I Almost Forgot… How Could I Forget?

December 2010

With Brazil on the brain, I almost forgot to mention my send off:  my work holiday party!  My great bosses held the second ever holiday party on December 4th, so I would be able to attend before packing my backpack and boarding a plane.  Luckily for them (and me), the earlier date also meant I was able to do a lot of the party planning!  It was a geeked out party with a super finale.  We all had a very memorable time (well, all of us except “Justie,” who is still piecing a lot of that night back together again with our help)!

There was delicious food catered by Coca Cafe and plenty of drinks.

There was a magnetic force to stir, not shake, the cocktails which required measurements to be made and remade and remade many times.

So much science!

There were even more good times with work friends.

There were babies, wives, husbands, beaus and belles…all the “SigFigs!”

Then there was the entertainment portion of the evening which included a math competition.  It’s true.  Math can be entertaining!

There was a lego frenzy:  two Erics strategically pitted against each other.

There was a rivalry that met on Gingerbread Lane, and a record was broken.

There were a few holiday winners, but only one was truly dressed for the occasion and rewarded accordingly with bling.

Then there was a long awaited and well appreciated super hero!  He may not have been the hero we deserved, but he was the hero we needed!

Lastly, there was cake!

Chocolate, Chocohazelnut Holiday Party Cake

Cake Ingredients

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ½  cups pure cane sugar
2 teaspoons water at room temperature
4 teaspoons instant espresso
6 large, local, free-range eggs, at room temperature
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup unsifted, unsweetened natural cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 cup Agave syrup
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

Whipped Topping Ingredients

1 Quart Organic Heavy Whipping Cream, chilled
1 jar organic chocolate hazelnut butter
Cocoa powder for dusting

For the Cake

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly coat the pan with melted butter or oil and fit with parchment paper to extend up both long sides of the pan.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high heat until light-almost white- in color, 4-5 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

In a small bowl, stir together the water and espresso powder until smooth.  Crack the eggs into the bowl and beat to blend.

With the mixer on medium, add the egg mixture, about 2 Tablespoons at a time, allowing each addition to fully incorporate before adding the next.  About halfway through mixing, scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

Dry Ingredients:  Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Wet Ingredients:  In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk and Agave syrup.

With the mixer running on the lowest speed, alternate adding 1/3 of the dry and wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Scrape down the bowl and mix by hand if necessary.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer to a rack and allow to cool completely before removing the parchment.

For the Whipped Topping

Use a hand mixer to blend the whipping cream and hazelnut spread on medium-high until peaks begin to form.

Assembly

Cut the cake in half.  Cover one layer of the cake with the whipped topping.

Add the second layer.  Ice the sides and top generously with the whipped topping.

Dust with cocoa powder to garnish.

Transport to work holiday party and enjoy after an evening of antics!

That’s the bottom of the jar folks, and the end of this holiday tale.

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