Welcome to June, or The Month Of The Dessert. 20 of the food holidays are desserts only, leaving us no choice for substitutions. Actually, it’s going to be that way for the entire summer. Roughly half of the food holidays over the next three months center around desserts. This is going to be the toughest stretch of our challenge, I think. But…we’ve come this far, so we must soldier on. June 1 kicks things off with National Hazelnut Cake Day.
Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, are most widely produced in Turkey – 75% of the world’s production originates there. In the United States, 99% of hazelnuts are grown right here in Oregon and Washington. That makes us the Istanbul of the West, I suppose. The prevalence of hazelnuts pretty much everywhere was one of the things that stood out to me when I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1994. Hazelnuts, which come from the hazel tree, have been around for thousands of years; an archaeological dig in Scotland in 1995 unearthed a pit full of hazelnut shells that were carbon-dated and found to be 9000 years old! They grew in popularity during the 1940s, when wartime rationing made cocoa scarce. Italian pastry maker Pietro Ferrero introduced what became known as Nutella, a hazelnut-chocolate spread that stretched the limited supply of chocolate by taking advantage of the plentiful hazelnuts in the Piedmont region of Italy. Nutella was imported to the U.S. in 1983 (seems like it’s been around longer than that!) and found a new legion of American fans.
With so many cakes looming on the horizon, we’ve decided to cut down portion sizes whenever possible. Our ingenious solution? Cupcakes! They are officially defined as “a small cake” so we aren’t breaking any rules. (An alternate definition is “an attractive woman” which I find both hilarious and outdated). It was simple enough to find a recipe for hazelnut cupcakes. This one uses both Nutella and Frangelico, so it’s an automatic win-win already. I spent a good portion of the afternoon whipping these up; we’ve got plans this evening and had to make sure we got our challenge in before we left – we probably won’t be back until after midnight!
The verdict? Pretty damn good! First time I’ve made cupcakes from scratch, too.
- A spoonful (or a cup) of Nutella: Chocolate Cake with Nutella Chocolate Ganache and Nutella Buttercream (aspoonfulofsugarbaking.wordpress.com)
- Fruit Cake Recipe With Fig Hazelnut & Ale (greatbritishchefs.com)
- Hazelnut, White Chocolate, and Pumpkin Cheesecake (spoonful.com)