Nutella Chocolate Cake with Nutella Icing

So when I said that there would be stress-baking this week, I wasn't kidding.

I had an oral final exam yesterday for Russian (which I thought went swimmingly, hooray), so while I was supposed to be preparing my monologue about two characters from Bulgakov's Master and Margarita, which we've been translating this quarter, I was obviously procrastinating.  When I procrastinate, I obsessively check and re-check my favorite food blogs - and upon the discovery that they haven't posted anything new in the last five minutes, I revert to Smitten Kitchen and press the "Surprise Me!" button over and over and over again... And since I do this fairly often, I tend to run into certain recipes several times.  When I came across the everyday chocolate cake post yesterday, for maybe the fourth time, I wondered, could I make this a Nutella cake by swapping out the butter for Nutella?  I mean, it sort of has the consistency of softened butter... Yeah, I like Nutella.  

Later that night, instead of studying for my biology exam today, I decided to satisfy my curiosity about this Nutella-butter business... And watch claymation Christmas specials.  I substituted Nutella for butter one-to-one; but upon creaming the Nutella with the brown sugar (I also omitted the granulated sugar to account for the extra Nutella sweetness), I realized the texture wasn't quite right. I then added half the amount of butter from the original recipe, and thereby obtained optimal creaminess.  But oh, I couldn't stop there.  If I could make a simple chocolate cake Nutella-y, why not make a simple icing a little Nutalla-y?  

Oh my goodness.

I don't think I need to tell you how good Nutella, heavy cream, and confectioners' sugar are together.  Plus cake.  

Update December 19: After fiddling with the amount of butter, I found that using a full 1/2 cup of butter and Nutella yields a lovely batter.  Furthermore, I adjusted the oven temperature and cooking time, since my original trial was a little underdone in the middle.  I may attempt to test a temperature somewhere in the middle later on, but for now here's the updated version.

Nutella Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the Nutella, butter, and brown sugar until smooth, 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the egg, then the buttermilk and vanilla.  Sift in the remaining ingredients (flour through salt) and stir until barely combined, mixing as little as possible.  Pour batter into a prepared loaf pan and bake at 375°F for ~50 minutes until a knife (or toothpick) comes out cleanly.  Now, jump on that Nutella icing:

2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons Nutella
~2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a microwave-safe bowl with high sides, microwave the Nutella for 10 seconds until soft.  Stir in the heavy cream until thoroughly combined, then whisk in the confectioners' sugar.  These measurements aren't terribly exact, so adjust them as necessary.  Pour the icing over the hot cake, and let it cool to room temperature before serving.

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