Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu Cake – Take Two

This is my second attempt at a Chocolate Hazelnut Tiramisu-styled Cake. While I had time to get all the ingredients the way I wanted them for this attempt, I had to slap it together right before work and you can see that sloppiness in each layer. While annoying, that's not too much of an issue as this was a test cake to make sure I got the flavors right. Pretty comes later. 

This time I put the Frangelico in the sponge cake instead of the filling to cut some of the taste of  alcohol.  Even though I used the same amount of the liquor, the taste of hazelnuts was stronger this way.  The filling had an additional 8 oz of cream cheese added (the final product will use mascarpone instead.  And yes, I do realize that I'll have to adjust the recipe for that).  There was only one person who preferred the fluffier earlier version of the filling so I think I got that where I want it.  There was twice the amount of the hazelnut chocolate ganache this time, but I think I'll add even more in the next cake.  I'll also let each layer of the ganache set up before adding the filling so that the cross-sections are neater.  I tripled the amount of espresso in the simple syrup, but I'll increase the the entire espresso simple syrup mixture by another 1/2 cup, as well as try to make sure I get an equal amount of the syrup on each layer of cake.  Most thought the espresso amount was better, but several people said that it still needed a little bit more.

Why am I stressing about this stupid cake?  This is my first pastry competition since I graduated from culinary school.  I've entered the Capital Confectioner's Cake & Sugar Art Show & Competition that takes place at the end of the month.  I didn't make the last two shows because of work conflicts and surgery, so I have no idea of what the competition will be like.  But I do know that it's getting larger every year, and this is also the first year with a special Showcake Competition (the theme is Music, which is appropriate for Austin).  I just wish I were good enough for that level of decorating; however, I know that I have a lot of training and practice to go through before I can even think of competing in that category. 

I'm excited about it, but also nervous as I'm no longer working in the culinary field.  In fact, I kinda feel like I've given up hope of ever working in the pastry field as well as letting my family and instructors down.  I'm also terrified of running into any of my classmates, who are probably much more successful than I am.  I'm such a wimp.  But at least I'm a wimp with great tasting cake.

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