Hazelnut Crunch Cake with Mascarpone and Chocolate
- 1 box chocolate cake mix
- 1 cup (about 4 1/2-ounces) hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 (8-ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup cream
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour 2 (8-inch) cake pans. Prepare the cake mix according to package instructions. Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans and bake according to package instructions. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
For the Crunch:
Place the toasted nuts close together in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir the sugar mixture until dissolved. Bring to a boil and let cook until the sugar is light brown, about 8 minutes. Let the bubbles subside then pour the caramelized sugar over the nuts. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and let the sugar nut mixture cool until hard, about 30 minutes. When the sugar nut mixture is hard and cool, top with another piece of parchment paper and pound into small pieces, or place the sugar nut mixture on a cutting board and cut into small pieces. Set aside.
For the filling:
Put the mascarpone cheese, cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla into a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer whip the cream mixture to soft peaks. Fold the Crunch mixture into the whipped cream.
For the topping:
Place the chocolate, sugar and zest in a food processor. Process the mixture until the chocolate is finely ground.
To assemble the cake:
Put 1 cake on a serving plate. Top with 1-inch of the whipped cream crunch mixture. Top with the second layer of cake and continue frosting the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream crunch mixture. Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the ground chocolate. Serve.