Devil’s Food with Hazelnut Crunch Cake

Just in case you’ve forgotten, here is where we last left off:

Inspiration for recipes on The Misanthropic Hostess come from all over the place.  Sometimes I’m attracted to a new idea, ingredients or technique I haven’t worked with.  Other posts are inspired by memorable meals and childhood favorites.  And then, sometimes, I try a recipe for this singular reason: get in my belly!  This is one of those recipes.  Bon Appetit has this new thing going on where they offer additional recipes via mobile/tablet interface that don’t appear in the print magazine or, as far as I’ve seen, Epicurious.  They show you the picture and then send you to the mobile.  Such a tease.  Anyhow, this is one of those recipes.

Who doesn’t love chocolate and coffee together?

A single recipe makes three eight-inch cakes.

The crumb is pretty fine and loose.  If you are going whole-hog and decide to frost these babies, I suggest freezing them first.

While I liked the frosting included in this recipe, I still haven’t found the perfect chocolate frosting.  Good thing I like research.

Here is what makes this recipe special.  That hazelnut crunch pictured above?  It finds its way into each layer of the cake.  It’s like a little crunchy Nutella surprise!

Remember to leave some for the top.

Now, who needs a glass of milk?

The only suggestion I have is to maybe chop the hazelnut crunch to a finer grain for the middle cake layers.  As you can see from the piece below, the generous chunks sort of got in the way of the layer-flow.

This is a great special occasion cake indeed! And no TD, no peppercorns.

If you like this, you might like these

Chocolate Love Cake

Chewy Chocolate Cookies


I discovered this new dude name Phillip Phillips.  Guess who doesn’t watch American Idol?

Devil’s Food Cake with Hazelnut Crunch

Bon Appetit, September 2012

Devil’s Food Cake


  • 2 1/3 C cake flour
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Vahlrona)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 1 C hot coffee
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 C sugar
  • 1 C (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz semi-or-bittersweet chocolate, melted, cooled slightly


  1. Grease 3 8″ cake pans, line bottoms with parchment.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Sift cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder into a medium bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl (better yet, if you have it, use a multi-cup pyrex liquid measuring cup), dissolve espresso into hot coffee, whisk-in buttermilk, set aside.
  5. In a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer), beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy (5ish minutes), scraping-down bowl as needed.  Add eggs one-at-a-time, beating in between additions. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla.  Beat on high speed until doubled in volume and very fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape bottom of bowl well making sure all ingredients are incorporated.  Beat 1 more minute.
  6. With mixer on low, beat in flour and coffee mixtures in alternating pattern, starting and ending with flour.
  7. Divide evenly among pans.
  8. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean (about 20 minutes).  Transfer to wire racks, let cake cool in pans for 30 minutes.
  9. Invert cakes onto racks, peel off parchment and let cool completely.  I like to do this step in advance, wrap each cake tightly in plastic wrap and then freeze.  These cakes will be much easier if frosted while frozen.



  • 8 oz milk chocolate, chopped
  • 8 oz semi-or-bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 1/2 TBS light corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 C (2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces.


  1. Combine both chocolates and corn syrup in medium bowl.
  2. Bring cream to barely a boil in a small saucepan; pour over chocolate mixture.  Let sit for 2 minutes. Whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is completely combined.
  3. Using a standing or electric mixer, beat chocolate mixture until cool, 5-6 minutes.
  4. Add-in butter a few pieces at a time, beating until incorporated between additions.  Continue to beat until thick and lightened in color (between 5-15 minutes).  If kitchen is hot or frosting feels thin, refrigerate.

Hazelnut Crunch

Hazelnut crunch


  • Level-off cakes using a serrated knife.  Place 1 cake layer on a large plate or stand.
  • Using an offset spatula, spread about 1 cup frosting on bottom layer.  Spring 1/2 cup hazelnut crunch over frosting.  Place second layer over crunch.  Repeat.
  • Top third layer with frosting and decorate as desired.  Finish with hazelnut crunch.
  • Chill until frosting is set (3-4 hours).


TJT #5

A shoe haiku for you.


Peep toe is good but

Kitchen Goddess is thinking

Heel even better

Shoes by Stuart Weitzman. Cat, most certainly, by the devil.

Immediately after chewing on my heel, she moved on to my suit coat folded over the back of a chair in the kitchen.

Oh, and speaking of shoes, October’s edition of Bon Appetit has an interview with Kate and Andy Spade.  Kate Spade in Bon Appetit!  Kate Spade in Bon Appetit!  Luckily the fact that she likes to serve meatloaf at dinner parties tempered my excitement enough that my head did not explode.  Really Ms. Spade?  Meatloaf?


I’m going to admit up front that I’m stretching what could be a single post into two.  But really, this first part should stand alone.  And, since Septemberish appears to have become the month of crunches (rainbow and cinnamon toast crunch crunch), why stop now?

We begin with good quality bittersweet chocolate.  And while it is gently melting with some butter, go ahead and bust out the…


Oh that’s right, I went there.  Nutella has made several appearances on this blog.  In fact, Nutella is to the Misanthropic Hostess what is Alec Baldwin is to hosting SNL; always a really good idea (the same could be said of Steve Martin and Christopher Walken).

Do you want to hear a confession?  Nutella is the singular foodstuff not allowed in our house on a casual basis.  I have pounds of varying varieties of chocolate stored in the pantry and at least three kinds of peanut butter in there as well.  No problemo.  However, introduce this little elliptical tub of chocolate hazelnut manna into our household and I swear, I can hear it whispering to me while I’m at work.  So, sadly, I’ve learned that I can only buy it when I have an immediate use for it.

Once the chocolate and butter are melted and combined, the nutella is added and the whole mess is whisked until smooth.

And here is where the crunch comes in.

Once the crispy rice is incorporated everything goes into the freezer for a pause.  Then, break the mass into smaller pieces and let your imagination run wild.  On top of ice cream?  Yes!  Yogurt?  Yup!  As a fancy add-in to granola?  You betcha!

My only suggestion is that you store the crunch in a sealed zip-lock in the fridge or freezer.  The recipe doesn’t include any stabilizers and so the melt-point is very low (read: if you store it in the pantry and think you’re going to be able to sneak bites here and there, think again, your chocolately fingertips will give you away).

While all the suggestions for use provided above are equally tantalizing, I had other plans for this crunch.  Here is a hint.

If you like this, you might like these

Nutella Cookies

The Bella Bar


Give this young lady a listen:

L.A. Girlfriend

Hazelnut Crunch

Bon Appetit, September 2012


  • 1/4 C  hazelnuts
  • 2 oz (about 1/3 C) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 TBS (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 C Nutella
  • 3 C toasted rice cereal
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line baking pan or a dish that will fit in your freezer with parchment.
  3. Spread hazelnuts out on sheet pan and toast until fragrant (6-8 minutes).
  4. Coursely chop nuts, set aside to let cool.
  5. Add chocolate and butter to medium heatproof bowl (or smaller heatproof pan).  Set over large saucepan of simmering water.  Heat mixture stirring often until butter and chocolate are melted and smooth.
  6. Remove bowl or smaller pan from over larger saucepan. Stir-in Nutella and then hazelnuts.  Fold-in rice cereal.
  7. Spread mixture into prepared parchment lined pan or dish, freeze until set, about 30 minutes.
  8. When set, break into smaller pieces with hands.  Crunch can be made in advance and store in the freezer in a airtight container.
  9. Try not to eat it all before using it on or with something.



Once upon a time someone (I don’t remember who) sent me a link to a Kate Spade sample sale.  I’m pretty sure this was back in the days of the infamous black nylon bag.  That link lead to my first Kate Spade handbag purchase.  Unfortunately for my (Kate Spade) wallet, the sample sale was just a gateway drug when it came to Ms. Spade.  I have since moved on to normal sales.  And, occasionally, full-priced purchases.  These little zebra beauties were one such purchase (in the interest of full disclosure, TD actually bought these.  For me.  Not him.  Seriously come on…we don’t even wear the same size).  At about two inches, the heel is a perfect height for trousers or shorter shirts with tights.  I also love the mid-century toe paired with the chunkier heel.  I think they kind of send the message that,’ yes, I’m ladylike but could run a 440 if needed.’  Nice.

Bernana [sic] Pudding

The Misanthropic Hostess is usually a one-woman endeavor.  Well, one woman and two kitchen gods.  But, it was Labor Day Weekend and the first (and last) weekend all summer TD and I had two days in the same place at the same time (yes, I know Labor Day Weekend is usually three days.  We got two…and were grateful for it).  There was general laziness with coffee drinking and paper reading.  There was some beach time and BBQ time.  And, per TD’s request, there was some joint-effort bernana pudding.  And by joint effort I mean, I barked-out instructions and took pictures while TD did all the hard work.

TD’s love for banana pudding is such that I knew he wouldn’t complain when asked to whisk constantly for 15 minutes until the milk-sugar-egg custard reached the appropriate tempeture.

Constant whisking is the key.  A couple of years ago I attempted this recipe for a dinner party (we went Southern y’all) and no dice–the stuff didn’t set.

While TD was whisking,  I checked-in with the fluffy kitchen god from his spot atop the fridge.

After the custard comes up to temp and the butter is slowly added, the mixture will be rich and thick.  Don’t expect instant-pudding thick.  This recipe uses a little cornstarch, not gelatin as the thickener.

Into a bowl.

Cover with a round of parchment so the pudding doesn’t develop a skin.  Then into the fridge.  For at least a couple of hours, but over night is best.

Now, when TD says bernana pudding, he means pudding+vanilla wafers+bananas+whipped cream.  You could buy your wafers but we were feeling adventurous, so we made our own.

The dough will be incredibly sticky.  Piping the cookies on to a parchment-lined baking sheet is much easier than attempting to spoon them.

They’ll spread enough to erase the…err…pile look.

As you can see form the masculine model hands above, TD was the piper.  I gave him a couple of exemplars and then he went to town.  Apparently we have different interpretations of size.  My example is on the right.  If you decide to make your own wafers, go smaller.  They brown and dry-out much easier.  If you happen to be the planning kind, make them a week in advance and let them get a little stale–much better texture (I found this out on accident after storing the left-overs in the pantry and forgetting about them for a week).

Now, this part is optional and to be honest, TD and I decided we liked the whole concoction sans banana-liquor.  But, if you are so inclined, soak your cookies in either banana or other complimentarily-flavored alcohol of your choice.

Because of the size differential in the cookies, I chopped ours up before soaking.

While I was chopping and boozing up the wafers, TD was making the whipped cream.  I forgot to warn him about not letting the cream “break.”  No matter, it still tasted tasty.

You can’t have banana pudding without bananas.  A bath in lemon juice will help keep them from turning brown.

This recipe can be made in a large dish, trifle style or, as we did, single-style.  The composition starts in the top left and goes clockwise: a little smear of pudding to help things stick followed by a layer of cookie, a layer of bananas, another layer of pudding and topped-off with whipped cream.

The recipe will make 5-6 10 ounce individual ramekins or a regular 8X8 dish.

And that my friends, is what the end of summer tastes like.


The Roots.  TD was on the ones and twos.

Banana Pudding

adapted from Alton Brown

For Pudding


  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and chilled
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 45 vanilla wafers
  • 4 ounces banana liqueur
  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, very cold


  1. Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and salt in a 3-quart saucier. Add the eggs and egg yolk and whisk to combine. Add the milk and whisk until well combined, about 30 seconds. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 172 to 180 degrees F, approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. The mixture will begin to thicken and bubble around the edges.
  3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 piece at a time, being sure each piece is fully incorporated before adding the next. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Cover the surface of the pudding with a round piece of parchment and refrigerate until the pudding reaches 45 degrees F, approximately 2 hours.

For Wafers


  • 7 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 ounces vanilla sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk


  1. Position 1 oven rack in the top third of the oven and another in the bottom third. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and vanilla sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 1 minute. Add the egg and incorporate on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. Add the vanilla extract and milk and blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just to incorporate. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Scoop the batter into a pastry bag or large ziplock and snip and edge.  Pipe out batter in silver dollar-sized disks and place them on 2 parchment paper-lined half sheet pans, approximately 20-25 cookies per pan. Use the heel of your hand to slightly flatten each ball. Bake, 2 pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

To Construct Individual Puddings

  1. Lay the vanilla wafers on a half sheet pan. Slowly and evenly pour the banana liqueur over the cookies. Set aside for 10 minutes (skip this step if serving to children)
  2. Toss the banana slices with the lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Spread a small amount of pudding in the bottom of a 10 ounce glass, bowl or ramekin. Cover with a layer of vanilla wafers, followed by a layer of banana slices. Spoon 1/3 of the remaining pudding on top of the bananas and repeat, ending with a layer of pudding.
  4. Put the whipping cream in the bowl of a stand mixer, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and whisk just until stiff peaks form. Spoon the whipped cream over the cooled pudding and spread to cover completely. Top with any remaining soaked cookies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Snickerdoodles on steroids

True to the namesake of her bakery, Christina Tosi of Milkbar has a particular affinity for things cereal and cracker related.  Her cookbook contains several recipes for a category of concoctions she calls “the crunch.” Operationally defined, crunches are a an array of recipe add-ins whose primary ingredient is most often derived from snack foods including cereals, crackers, chips and pretzels.

Among these little nuggets of nirvana I discovered a formula for homemade cinnamon toast crunch, crunch.  Well, she had me at the first crunch.

The technique involves browning butter in the microwave.  ‘Go ahead she says, it’s easier than stovetop.’  Apparently not for my microwave.  Oh, I got brown butter.  I also got an appliance covered in a layer of butter so thick you could grease toast with it for years.  But, maybe your microwave is better behaved.

The next ingredient is white bread.  I can’t tell you how odd it was to walk down the bead aisle looking for plain white bread.  We don’t eat a lot of bread in our household.  Whenever I buy a loaf I have to keep it in the fridge because left in the pantry, it’ll go moldy before we even get halfway through.  Of course, the mold may have something to do with the fact that I buy fairly gross good-for-you grown up bread that doesn’t have a lot of preservatives.  So buying white bread was a bit of a wonder (uhm…see what I did there…wonder…bread).

Off with the crusts and into 1/2 inch pieces.

A gentle toss with the brown butter and a cinnamon sugar mix and it’s time to get toasty.

Out of the oven, this stuff is ridiculous.  Seriously…crunchy and buttery and cinnamony.

But wait.  Remember the mother snickerdoodle recipe from last week?  Well, Christina does encourage the reader to experiment.  So, what do you think might happen if we chopped up the cinnamon toast crunch crunch into smaller bits.

Then carefully folded them in to the snickerdoodle dough and rolled each ball of dough in cinnamon and sugar before baking?

You get a snickerdoodle on steroids my friends.

You know you want to make these.

If you like this, you might enjoy these

Brown butter chocolate chip cookies

Big sky buns


Lumineers.  What?  Everyone else is.

Snickerdoodles on Steroids

Adapted from Milk, Christina Tosi

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Crunch


  • 1/4 (100 g) white sandwich bread
  • 1/3 C (115g) brown butter (instructions below), just warm
  • 1/2 C (100g) sugar
  • 1/2 tsp (2g) kosher salt
  • 1 tsp (2g) ground cinnamon


  1. To brown butter.  Place 1/2 C unsalted butter in a microwave-safe dish.  Cover with a microwave-safe saucer and microwave on high for 3-5 minutes. The butter will melt and then start to pop.  If you are the TMH’s microwave, it’ll then explode leaving you with about 1/3 of a cup of browned butter.  Set butter aside to cool.
  2. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Tear or cube the bread into 1/2 inch pieces.  Put it in a bowl, douse with the brown butter and let soak for about a minute.
  4. Add the sugar, salt and cinnamon to the mix and toss well.  Spread the mixture on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
  5. Pull from oven and break-up with a spatula.  Bake an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Cool the cinnamon toast crunch crunch completely.  Chop into crumbs a little bigger than orzo.

For Cookies

  • Snickerdoodle dough
  • 1/2 recipe cinnamon toast crunch crunch
  • 1 C sugar combined with 1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Go here for the base snickerdoodle recipe and follow directions but swap-in 1/2 of the cinnamon toast crunch recipe for the birthday cake crumbs.
  2. When scooping dough, roll each ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture, set on parchment lined baking sheets and flatten a bit with the bottom of a cup (about 3″ diameter).
  3. Follow the remaining instructions for the sprinkle cookies.



Tom and Jerry Tuesday (TJT): #2

These are my favorite shoes.  They’ve been re-soled twice and are on their way to a third. I wear them that much!   They’ve been to multiple continents and still look pretty fantastic (unlike regular leather, there isn’t much you can do when tortie patent starts to go South…luckily these haven’t).  I’m actually not sure which season they are from–either fall 2007 or 2008 but I just bought their little sisters in the form of a pair of ballet flats.  J.Crew.  Of course!

I realize this picture isn’t very good but had to use it because you-know-who was posing.  What you can’t see is that I’m holding-off the other one with the hand that isn’t holding the camera. True to their Los Angeles roots, these felines can’t resist having their picture taken. Even when the camera isn’t aimed at them.