Peeling a Pineapple and Jamie's way with Mint Sugar

Driving back from Tagaytay last weekend, C & I stopped by one of the many roadside stands to buy a pineapple. It’s hard to resist the pineapples in Tagaytay. Primarily because, well, they’re good, and secondly because you see fields of them everywhere, their wild crowns peeking out of the ground. This makes it especially hard to stop thinking about having one. So we stopped and I picked one out. C shot me a dubious look, “That’s really hard to peel.” The indignation! Did he think I could not peel a pineapple?! “I know how to peel a pineapple!” I shot back. Was he questioning my domestic-island-goddess capabilities?!

Back home found me peeling away, muttering over the pineapple, “I can peel you…I can peel you!” I held up the peeled and quartered pieces up to C, “See, there you go!” Domestic-island-goddess status restored.

Do you want to know a secret? That was the first time I ever peeled one! Hah!!! Sometimes, when skill fails, you just have to muster enough cheek to act like a domestic goddess. And sometimes it helps to have Saveur issue 96 where they teach you how to peel a pineapple.

My pineapple peeling redemption
(care of Saveur Magazine issue 96, page 79)

  • Slice of the pineapple's crown and then slice of about a half inch of the bottom, and then stand upright.
  • Trim the rind off by slicing the fruit’s exterior (don’t go deeper then ¼ inch). Follow the fruit’s shape when slicing.
  • Cut out any black “eyes” that remain.
  • Slice the pineapple into 4, lengthways.
  • Slice of the core end of each quarter.
  • At this point you can cut the quarters into cubes, or slice them again lengthways into thinner slices.


We usually just eat pineapple straight from the fridge…the slices icy cold and sweet. I wanted to try something new this time, and there was a Jamie Oliver recipe that intrigued me. I came upon it in The Accidental Foodie by Neale Whitaker, and had seen it on the internet a couple of times…enough to pique my interest. It’s blazingly simple and, I discovered after trying it, surprisingly good. It’s called, in adorable Jamie-fashion, Pukka Pineapple with Bashed-Up Mint Sugar. All you have to do is get your pineapple quarters (as above) and slice them lengthways as thin as you can manage. Lay them on a serving platter then get on with the bashing of your mint sugar (bash the sugar right before serving, so if you aren't going to serve it yet just set pineapple aside first). In a mortar and pestle, put some caster (superfine) sugar and some mint leaves (Jamie says 4 tablespoons sugar to a handful of fresh mint) and start bashing! Jamie suggests doing the bashing at the table to create a little “theatre”. Bash until sugar turns green and the mint scent wafts up…the smell is divine! Sprinkle mint-sugar on the pineapple slices and enjoy with some natural yogurt. This is one of those recipes that sound almost too simple that you can’t really see what the fuss is about…until you try it. The flavor pairing of the pineapple and the mint, with the added sweetness of the sugar, is just so very right. And with the arrival (finally!) of good, thick yogurt on my shores, the whole dessert leaves me gloriously content to the tips of my toes!

note: if you live in Manila and are looking for good, thick, creamy yogurt try Lemnos brand (natural/no flavor) sold in S&R at the Fort. I have also seen it in some Rustan’s Supermarket outlets. It is the thickest I’ve found, and, save flying to Greece to get the real thing, is enough to satisfy my cravings for Greek-style yogurt. It comes in a 2-kilo bucket but it is so worth it. I could have this for breakfast for days on end. It also makes the best raitas and tzazikis, and I can’t wait to try it in cakes. Eat it, cook with it, top it on anything…this yogurt rocks!

Coming Home

This is the time of year when I have some major deadlines. Crunch time.

I am finishing up a book and a few things that I was asked to contribute to another project. For one of the projects, I was asked several questions about my career, inspiration, etc. Funny thing. as I am sitting here I realize that my designs and perspective are evolving.

I started out designing quilts with bright fabrics and simple graphic designs. The books that I will be doing this year finally reflect what I love. Does that sound weird?? I think so. I will forever love clear, saturated, bright colors. I think that I started out that way because I'm not a painter and I don't care for [but respect] the traditional fabrics even though there are many beautiful ones on the market today. What I love even more [and have always loved] are the funky bohemian looks that come from Alexander Henry. I also love some of that vintage charm that permeates our industry. I also love anything cutsie with an Asian touch. Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, and Winnie The Pooh are very different in Asia. I also love Pucca and Kerokerokeroppi!

Don't get me wrong, I still love brights. I also love the dramatic designs of Tricia Guild. If my co-inhabitants were neat and dainty, and promised to not launch themselves off of my furniture ever again, I'd love a bold black and white tufted sofa or a deep fuschia or kelly green and chocolate interior room. Alas, it doesn't look as though it will happen anytime soon.

I was interviewed recently and my answers surprised the interviewer a bit. I don't have any quilts hanging in my home and I don't wear a lot of handmade knitwear. I think that it is the process that I love. I usually have so many things going on in my head that I am amazed that it hasn't exploded ... yet. My living room is painted in "parisien taupe" and I have these fabulous black and white photographs that were taken by my brother Robert and his friend Pete. Pretty blah for one who designs in vivid colors, huh? The interveiwer said that she was shocked when she saw my knit projects for my upcoming booklet, iKnit. I think that she was expecting fuschia purses and chartreuse scarves. Instead, my first knit collection is fairly sedate but still exciting compared to my initial designs in the quilt industry.

I can't wait to show you iKnit. It should be available anyday.

Geera Pork and Chadon Beni Sauce

It’s always a pleasure to meet and fall in love with a new herb. The smelling…the tasting. Running your hands through its leaves then holding them up to your face and inhaling deeply, filling your lungs with the scent of your new herby love. Scouring cookbooks, magazines, and the internet for information. Trying it in new recipes and discovering new flavor combinations. Seeing how it fits with this food or that ingredient. A blissful journey filled with surprises.

That’s how I felt the first time I met culantro. I already loved cilantro, but culantro was so much more. Its flavor and scent were more intense. In fact, when you cook with it, the ghost of its scent lingers everywhere. You can read about culantro and my discovery of it here. I first used it in a Vietnamese style soup. Then C added it in a typical local salad of tomatoes, onions, and bagoong (shrimp paste). In both cases this wonderful herb performed outstandingly. After these more Asian-inspired dishes, I wanted to try something from where culantro originated – the West Indies. I had never cooked anything from the Caribbean and this was too good an opportunity to pass up, so I look over my March 2006 issue of Saveur where I found a lot of culantro-info in a feature on Trinidad.

Perusing the article (and getting swept away in my desire to visit Carnival!) and all the recipes included, a recipe for a dish called Geera Pork kept tugging at me in that insistent “Make me!” way that some recipes have. The recipe sounded tempting enough, using culantro, garlic, parsley, thyme, spring onions, allspice, cumin, and garam masala. So Geera Pork it was! I changed the quantities somewhat to suit what I had, as well as up the quantity of certain flavors. I also used pork steak instead of pork loin (more fat…heehee).

Geera Pork (Curried Pork)
(adapted from Saveur March 2006, page 73)

  • 500 grams pork steak, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 ½ tablespoons chopped culantro
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ tablespoon ground allspice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Salt
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala dissolved in ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 sili labuyo (bird’s eye chilli) – original recipe called for scotch bonnet or jabanero

- Place garlic, spring onions, culantro, parsley, thyme, and 1/8 cup water in a food processor, or the bowl of an immersion blender, and process until mixture is smooth.
- Transfer to a bowl and add the pork, allspice, pepper, and salt to taste. Toss to coat well, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to cook the pork, heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add the garam masal mixture (carefully!) and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
- Add pork and stir to coat well. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until pork is almost cooked, about 20 minutes.
- Toss in chilies and cumin and give it a stir. Cover and simmer until pork is tender, about 45 minutes to an hour. Uncover and cook until liquid has reduced to a thick paste. Add salt to taste if needed.
- Garnish with more chopped culantro.

In Trinidad, this is usually sold on the streets in small cups and eaten with Buss-Up-Shut, a Trinidad version of roti. Buss-Up-Shut takes its name from its appearance – looking like a “busted-up shirt”…now how adorable is that? Despite its cute name, I didn’t have time to make the Buss-Up-Shut, so instead ate it in a bowl lined with roti. It was definitely a new flavor for me! Well, actually more like a new dimension to an old flavor. It had the taste of the curries I’ve had before, but with a sharp new note…green and bright and strong…the culantro making its presence felt. C, who chose to eat it with rice, also liked it, saying that it “tastes like curry…but different”. It’s the same feeling you get when you travel to a new place and sense something familiar along with the exotic.

I still had culantro left after this, and I had to use it up fast, so I decided to make Chadon Beni Sauce, another recipe from the same article. Chadon Beni Sauce is basically culantro sauce and is used to make lots of curries in Trinidad and around. I cleaned and chopped my remaining culantro and ended up with 1 cup. To this I added 3 chopped spring onions, ½ a sili labuyo (bird’s eye chilli), and two cloves of peeled garlic. I blitzed the whole lot with my immersion blender until it formed a rough paste, and seasoned to taste with salt. I put this in a ziplock bag and popped it in the freezer for future use. Perhaps for Chicken Pelau, another Trinidadian dish. I’m not over with the Caribbean just yet.

As this entry really centered on my discovery of, and subsequent captivation with, this delicious herb culantro, I am submitting it to this weekend’s round of Weekend Herb Blogging (my first time to join!). This event was started by the fantastic Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen and is hosted this week by Anna of Anna’s Cool Finds.

Weekend Escape - Tagaytay

Every city girl needs an escape. It doesn’t always have to involve a plane ride or a visa…a quick car ride away from the city smog will suffice. Although jetting off to an exotic, far-off locale would be wonderful, sometimes it’s just not plausible. So you are stuck either dreaming of distant lands, or grabbing your backpack and trying to rediscover familiar terrain closer to home. I choose action over inaction…so C and I did just that.

We spent a fun and relaxing weekend outside Manila’s hubbub, in the city of Tagaytay. Tagaytay is set upon a ridge overlooking Taal Lake and Taal Volcano, a volcano nestled in the middle of the lake. The views are great, and the air clean (compared to Manila) and pleasantly cool. I, and probably most of the city of Manila, have no doubt been there a ton of times, but it is still a nice place to go. Aside from the views and escaping the city heat, you’ve got restaurants to visit, roadside stalls filled with fruits and flowers, and small farms selling organic herbs and vegetables.

We set off early Saturday morning to get there in time for one of my favorite breakfasts in Tagaytay – Humphrey’s Muesli at Breakfast at Antonio’s. I know, strange to travel so far for something quite ordinary…but I love its milky simplicity and that is all the reason I need. We also visited Manos Greek Taverna, a cozy Greek restaurant we had been to before. Manos is a charming Greek man and he uses a lot of products his mother (c’mon, you’ve gotta love this guy) sends him from Greece…including his own olive oil produced by his olive trees back home! I had the Chicken ala Corfu which was redolent with cinnamon and cloves, its flavor sweet and sour care of a veritable mountain of raisins and the juice of calamansi. Although there is no sugar added, the raisins make this dish very sweet…for someone like me it’s great, but if you are not into sweet in your savories give this one a pass. Instead, have what C did: Psari Skaras, a grilled tilapia marinated and basted (by Manos himself!) with a mix of olive oil, calamansi & lemon, and oregano from Greece. Sounds simple, but it was amazingly delicious! It was a tilapia that tasted of Greece...that is the best way I can describe it. Manos' grilled items are his specialties.

We also had our fill of the local specialties like tawilis (a small freshwater sardine found only in Taal Lake…nowhere else in the world!) and bulalo (bone marrow soup). We warmed ourselves with steaming coffee overlooking the lake and caldera. We browsed through little antique shops and bought local coffee beans and homemade bread. We bought fruits from roadside stalls…sweet-smelling pineapples that seem to grow wild along the countryside.

On our way back home we discovered a small garden called Jardinero’s (which means gardener’s), growing and selling its organic produce. Their bounty included various salad greens (including arugula, hooray!), flat leaf parsley, kohlrabi, squash, baby carrots, rosemary, different kinds of mint, rau rǎm (or Vietnamese coriander), chives, tarragon, cilantro, oregano, spinach, and more that I am sure I’m forgetting. Everything freshly picked as you buy them. They also sell native tomatoes, onions, and ginger. They even had cinnamon bark which they get from the province of Nueva Ecija. As if things couldn’t be more perfect, on top of all these fresh vegetables, they also sold chicharon! Out of place yes, but maybe a sign telling me to return? I guess it is sufficiently clear that I was quite pleased to come upon them!

A short while after, we stopped by the stall of Toscana Farms where I bought gorgeous red capsicums which I will roast and make into a salad. As I was waiting for the lady to prepare my change I noticed a small potted thyme plant. I had been looking for thyme everywhere, and all of my usual sources have been without for a while now, so I snapped it up. Never mind that I live in a flat with no balcony or plant box. At worst, I will at least have some thyme for a couple of dishes. And who knows, perhaps it will survive…sigh, I can dream

And dream I did as I dozed off in the warm afternoon sun that streamed through the car windows as C drove us back. We wandered, meandered, ate, napped, explored, shopped, relaxed, enjoyed…what’s not to love about weekends like these? A short and sweet getaway to recoup from a busy week past and help prepare for the one ahead!

Kumquat Marmalade

It’s hard not to stop by a fruit stand filled with gorgeously colored gems, even if I am in a hurry. My first impulse is always to stop and touch and smell, admiring the lot and making small talk with the purveyor. That day we were in a mad rush to do one thing or the other, but as always, my eyes strayed to the colorful display. The man at the stall, seeing my eyes wander over his merchandise, quickly plucked what looked to me like a tiny orange, and placed it in my hands. “Kim kyat” he said. I assume it to be the little sister of the popular kyat-kyat (Mandarin orange). I look questioningly at him and he motions for me to bite. I raise my eyebrows, “Skin too?” He nods.

I am never one to say no to free food, so I take a bite. Definitely citrus. Even the skin has the distinct taste of citrus rind but…it’s…sweet! I take another, and yet another bite to verify this little observation. Yes, cute little citrus fruit with sweet edible skin! This is my lucky day! But we are in a hurry, so I have to leave the charming man and his delicious fruit. I vow to return though, because even as I am rushing off, there is only one word dancing in my mind, a word that sighed in my head the moment I tasted this fruit and its edible rind: marmalade.

When I get home I hunt for more info on kim kyat but I can’t find any. Hmmm. Searching, searching…little citrus fruit with sweet skin. Could this be a kumquat??? The name certainly sounds similar, and the pictures on the internet certainly look similar. I can’t be sure because I have never seen nor tasted a kumquat before. Yes, just like figs. I was again on the verge of adding another fruit to my stable. Hooray!

So I hurried back another day and got myself a kilo of the kim kyats/kumquats. I let them decorate my dining table for a couple of days (they make a gorgeous centerpiece! just pile them on a white platter or stuff them into a clear glass jar) before finally attempting marmalade for the first time.

I have made jam before, but never marmalade. I seem to have fallen into a jam-making thrall. Honestly, I probably would have gotten to something marmalade-y at some point, but tasting those tiny orange fruits put it on the fast track. To me they just tasted of marmalade, as if it was their life’s wish. So I dutifully complied.

Being totally inexperienced in the marmalade department, I didn’t bother with pips and cheesecloth and whatsuch. I took my 1 kilo of fruit (minus a few that I ate) and boiled them for about an hour, in enough water so they could all float pretty much freely. I then sliced them up and discarded the pips. After which they weighed 550 grams. I tossed them in a pot with 500 grams sugar and heated it slowly until all the sugar melted, and then let it boil until set (used the saucer in the freezer test).

I think I may have overcooked this batch because the resulting marmalade was a tad too sticky, but what an interesting flavor! It was sweeter than most marmalades I’ve tried (I assume because the rind was sweeter) but still had a tiny bite of bitter that makes it a marmalade. I gave a bottle to my mom, who loved it, but said it was a bit too sweet owing to her being a solid, non-sweet, rind’s-the-best-part, marmalade lover. I had some over a calamansi muffin my best friend K brought me back from a trip to Boracay (pictured above). And I’m sure it will be sublime on some warm toast with lots of butter.

Now I have a little stash of preserves and chutneys in my cupboard and like a besotted fool I peep at them randomly to cheer me up :) And they make great hostess gifts!

Vietnamese Style Bulalo (bone marrow)

Last Saturday I spent a wonderful lunch with an awesome bunch of food bloggers and friends in a ranch outside the city. The weather was absolutely perfect and the grounds were stunning. We had a five course meal prepared by a private chef in a fantastic setting. Best among all the elements though, was the fantastic camaraderie and great fun that we shared. From the time we set off in our little convoy of cars, until the time we drove back, sleepy and sated, the air was filled with laughter and good vibes. My fellow bloggers who were present have already written it up and you can read about our adventure here:
Tennis & Conversation
Our Awesome Planet
Rants & Raves

Another highlight of that afternoon was the owner’s herb garden, whose produce is used by the chef in the meals he prepares there (like ours!). Rows of sprightly, bright green aromatics were quite a sight for a tired city girl's eyes. And the smells! I needed only to run my fingers lightly on them and my whole hand smelled of rosemary or coriander. I bought a bunch of rosemary and oregano, but what keep pulling me towards it (whether by its scent or its looks, I do not know) was the Vietnamese coriander. It smelled like an almost violent cilantro...strong and assertive. It was the first time I had come across it and I was intrigued, so I took a bunch of that as well.

Back home I was a flurry of hunting down recipes for my new herb. This type of herb is used mostly in soups…and Vietnamese soups are something that I have never tried at home. Actually, I have never tried making Vietnamese anything! Luckily, I found a recipe for just such a soup (Bún Bò Huế) in my October 2006 issue of Saveur. I heavily adapted it though to suit what I had on hand (just half a kilo of beef shank and some bone with marrow), as well as the time I had to work with (not enough time to boil meats, then refrigerate, then slice, and all the rest). I ended up with something I like to think of as Vietnamese Nilaga, or, as below, Vietnamese Style Bulalo (bone marrow).

Vietnamese Style Bulalo (bone marrow)
(adapted from Bún Bò Huế recipe in Saveur October 2006 issue)

  • 2 tablespoons + 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 medium yellow onions (2 chopped and 1 sliced thinly)
  • ½ tablespoon annatto seeds (atsuete)
  • 500 grams boneless beef shank, cut into roughly 1 inch chunks
  • 2-3 1.5-inch pieces of bone with marrow (bulalo)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 ½ teaspoons fish sauce (patis)
  • 5 trimmed stalks of lemongrass (4 cut into 3-inch pieces and bruised, 1 minced)
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried chili flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (bagoong)
  • 150 grams Vietnamese egg noodles, boiled as per packaged directions
  • A large bunch of Vietnamese coriander or culantro, root end removed
  • 4 scallions, chopped

- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a stockpot then add chopped onions. Cook onions until slightly soft, around 2 minutes. Add annatto seeds and cook until onions are dark yellow, around 4-5 minutes.
- Season beef with salt and pepper and add to the pot, pushing the onions to one side. Sear for about 4-5 minutes. Add 2 ½ liters of water and bring to a boil. Skim off and discard scum that forms on top. Add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce, bruised lemongrass, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Lower heat and simmer until meat is tender.
- While your meat is simmering, get on with the chili mix. Place remaining oil, chili flakes, garlic, and minced lemongrass in a small pot and gently simmer until fragrant (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in remaining fish sauce and sugar. Set aside.
- When meat is tender add shrimp paste and chili mixture (to taste). Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. At the last moment toss in Vietnamese coriander and take off heat.
- Divide noodles into bowls (this will serve 2-3 people). Top each bowl with sliced onions and scallions. Pour the hot broth with some beef and bulalo into each bowl. Serve with remaining chili mix.

The hot, fortifying, meal-in-a-bowl came out better then I expected. This is one of those "hits-the-spot" soups. The broth was beefy and flavorful, the beef fork-tender, and the smells emanating from the kitchen were new and exotic…the smell of Vietnamese cooking! The marrow/bulalo was its usual unctuous and mind-melting self (I’m a BIG marrow fan, obviously), with a new dimension as it melded deliciously with the distinct flavors of the broth. C and I hunkered over our bowls; the only sound our contented slurping.

Looking at other resources, the herb I had looked different from the pictures of Vietnamese coriander on the internet. It actually appeared more like culantro, another cilantro/coriander relation, more aromatic than both Vietnamese coriander (which is actually milder) and cilantro. Upon further investigation, it seemed that the herb I had on hand was indeed culantro (I have amended the recipe above to include both). The March 2006 issue of Saveur featured it. Culantro is indigenous to the West Indies but is used all over, including Vietnam, where it is called ngo gai (as opposed to Vietnamese coriander which is referred to as rau rǎm) and is one of the standard herbs in pho and other soups. Whew! So I was not totally off-base when I used it! And more good news: As I have discovered it to be culantro, I now have a new bunch of recipes in which to use it…all hailing from Trinidad! Who knew you could go all around the world and never leave you kitchen?

UPDATE 2/13 -- C made a very typical local salad of chopped tomatoes, onions, and shrimp paste (bagoong) to go with some fried fish last week. We chopped up some of the culantro and tossed it in the salad. Simple but amazingly flavorful and delicious!

Crazy Moments

Today I received a copy of my manuscript for review from Martingale & Co. [That Patchwork Place]. It's looking good!!! Sometimes these things don't actually feel real until someone else puts it all together. I did the writing but it only seems official after the publisher has put its mark on it.

This month, iKnit [Leisure Arts], will be available. I designed all of the projects in their premiere issue. It is an exciting project because the style and photography is much more cutting edge. I'll let you know when it's available.

Happy Nutella Day!

When I heard about World Nutella Day 2007 from Ms. Adventures in Italy I was beside myself. An ardent fan of the famed chocolate hazelnut spread, my first thought was a big, fat, "Finally!". I am in firm agreement that Nutella does derserve a day when everyone goes and pays it homage. Suffice to say I was definitely planning to participate and do my share of Nutella-worship.

I already had a recipe in mind. Since I got myself Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess many moons ago, her Torta alla Gianduja, or Nutella Cake, was bookmarked to be tried. Many recipes jumped ahead of the queue though, but it remained there, dancing in the back of my head, a sweet temptation. Well, today is the day to yield. Nutella lovers, today is YOUR day!

I followed the original recipe pretty much, except I used rum instead of Frangelico, although Nigella does mention that you can do this. And, I didn't toast the hazelnuts for the topping...they were already roasted and I was too lazy (sorry Nigella!).

Here's the recipe...

Nutella Cake
(from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess, page 172)

for the cake:

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 125 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 400 grams Nutella
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 100 grams ground hazelnuts
  • 100 grams dark chocolate, melted
  • for the icing:

  • 100 grams hazelnuts
  • 125 ml double cream
  • 1 tablespoon rum
  • 125 grams dark chocolate
  • - Preheat oven to 180C.
    - In the bowl of your mixer whip egg whites until stiff peaks form (yes! slowly getting over the egg white fear).
    - In another bowl beat butter and Nutella. Add rum, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate, then add a bit of the egg white (no need to be so gentle) just to lighten the mixture.
    - Fold in the rest of the egg whites, one third at a time.
    - Pour into a 23 cm greased and lined springform tin and bake for 40 minutes (sides should be coming away from pan). Cool in pan on a wire rack.
    - Prepare the icing. Place chocolate, cream, and rum in a saucepan over low heat until chocolate starts melting. Take off heat and whisk until it reaches a consistency suitable for icing your cake. - Unmold the cooled cake. Nigella advises to leave the cake on the base as the cake's "dampness" may make it difficult to move, but I let the parchment I lined it with do the job.
    - Pour ganache over the cake and top with whole hazelnuts.

    Doesn't it look like something you would want to come home to after a hard day? The Nutella-lover in me sure thinks so. I did come across some "bumps" in the form of a cracked top once the cake settled (help! suggestions anyone???), but the gloriously smooth ganache covered it all up! I don't know how this tastes though. It is presently sitting on its pink throne, untouched, waiting for me to (hopefully!) get this post out in time to make Nutella Day! I will add an update here as soon as we sample it :)

    So there you have it. My small contribution in honor of the wondrous substance that has seen me through many a bad day, and a ton of good ones too. Thank you Sara and Shelley for hosting such a fantastic event! And Happy Nutella day to one and all!!!

    My previous posts involving Nutella:
    Nutella as part of my childhood
    Those famous cupcakes!

    UPDATE 2/7 -- Tasting notes: We had some for dessert last night and it was delicious! Moist and dense and chocolate-y. It is a great chocolate cake to have in your chocolate cake stable, and it is surpringly easy to make. However, despite using a whole bottle of Nutella, the Nutella flavor was not as pronounced as I would have liked. I will try incorporating Nutella into the icing next time I make this (yes, there will definitely be a next time!) to up the Nutella quotient.