Preparation time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes plus chilling
Difficulty: Easy - for beginners
Serves: 12 servings
â€¢2 cartons (15 ounces each) ricotta cheese
â€¢1-1/2 cups sugar
â€¢1 teaspoon vanilla extract
â€¢1 cup chopped Diamond of California® Pecans
â€¢1 milk chocolate candy bar (7 ounces), grated
â€¢2/3 cup shortening
â€¢1-2/3 cups sugar
â€¢1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
â€¢2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
â€¢2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
â€¢1 teaspoon salt
â€¢1-1/4 cups 2% milk
â€¢2 cups heavy whipping cream
â€¢1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
â€¢1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
â€¢Whole hazelnuts and chocolate curls, optional
â€¢For filling, in a small bowl, beat ricotta cheese and sugar until smooth; beat in vanilla. Fold in pecans and chocolate. Cover and refrigerate.
â€¢ In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating well after each addition.
â€¢ Pour into three waxed paper-lined 9-in. round baking pans. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
â€¢ Cut each cake in half. Place one bottom layer on a serving plate; spread with 1 cup filling. Repeat layers four times. Top with remaining cake. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
â€¢ In a large bowl, beat cream until thickened. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla; beat until stiff peaks form. Spread over top and sides of cake. Garnish with hazelnuts and chocolate curls if desired. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 12 servings.