January 16, 2012

Plateful is One! And I Say Thank You With This Intensely Chocolaty Mini Hazelnut Brownie Cake!

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It has been one year ho! Quite the year indeed.

Full of surprises, full of promises, full of discoveries. And, dotted with beautiful memories all along. One full, charming year since the debut of Plateful. Yes, it is Plateful’s first birthday, er, anniversary—whatever.

The journey has been exhilarating, challenging, educational, to say the least. Somewhere along the route all this recipe sharing, prop hunting, styling and framing for photography, and the communal joy of connectivity gathered momentum and became my way of life. A guilty pleasure. All thanks to you.
I fell in love with this view of clouds, and I had to share it with you

It is amazing how fast time goes by. It was around this time a year back, on December 29, 2010 to be precise, that my blog went live with 5 delicious recipes and a welcome message. It was a means to an end to fill the void that came with unemployment and the gift of copious time attached to it. Little did I realize that I was embarking on a journey of self-discovery. Roughly 365 days and I still can’t believe that I’m doing this. How can I when I was always this shy person who was intimidated by public speaking, let alone felt comfortable with anyone invading my personal space? How can I fathom that today I’m baring my thoughts and soul to this world, one recipe at a time, that too using this viral medium—cyberspace—and enjoying every bit of it. Strange, but true. Surely, by no stretch of the imagination did I ever consider being the curator of a blog in a social platform with the immediacy of reaching a great audience beyond national borders, and moreover, to be able to cultivate a virtual community of readership. I haven’t quite got the hang of it. Nonetheless, today, this space is my alter ego—a friend when I need one, a genuine camaraderie when I yearn for companionship. I’m so grateful.

Going back, life was pretty solitary in the blogosphere at the beginning. I used to fret, fret, fret over the number of readers and languish over the lack of comments—duh. But luck was on my side and over the next few months the community began to grow, slowly but surely. Friendships were formed with each recipe I documented, each story I shared. Mind you, blogging has been sporadic most times—but, elevating to the core. I enjoy the nurture of creativity, sense of belonging, rich networking opportunity and the pride of achievement this space has bestowed upon me—it’s priceless. Like no other I’ve experienced before. Period.


Design was one interest I always wanted to pursue, and art was my passion right from childhood. Besides, I loved reading and writing, and always nurtured this silly dream of publishing—as if I had any skills in that department! Admittedly, I never really ventured into any of these interests, discounting the journals I kept—hidden away—when I was young, or the petty writing I did for magazines at school, or the pleasure of art—drawing, to be precise—I engaged in as a hobby until I walked down the aisle. Perhaps not surprisingly, these interests fueled what I am doing now—writing, food styling and photographing. Blogging has become a wonderful outlet for my latent passions, empowering me to hone these skills with each new post I share with this world. Well, you know, food blogging is so much more than just knowing how to cook delicious dishes—sometimes it's a struggle, other times easy as pie. But all the time alluring, thanks to you.
Ever since the inception of Plateful, I’ve turned into this styling enthusiast and photography freak. Really. Guess what gives me the most thrills, other than being behind the lens of course? Prop hunting! It might sound a bit cheesy, but rummaging through shops for suitable props gets my adrenaline going, overtime. Over the course of the year, I have come to appreciate photography like never before. With each passing day, I learned the significance of composition and lighting. Suddenly I was like bye-bye flash and hello there, sunlight! I submitted my photos for critiques and benefited from each feedback I received. I entered contests and was rewarded with quite a few recognitions. I was thrilled to be on the panel of judges for one of the most popular online food photography events—DMBLGiT (Does My Blog Look Good in This)—thanks to Nags, this past November. My December 2011 DMBLGiT win (thank you Arundhuti!) was like icing on the cake—a curtain call to end a terrific one-year milestone that started with my interest in the bewitching art of food photography and styling. And yet this's just a beginning. I’m self taught and still learning. Above all, I truly wish to enhance my skills as I continue this exciting journey.
Throughout, my handy Canon Powershot SX 200 IS has been a steady companion, sharing my little delights and woes. Don’t get me wrong, I do take pride in the fact that I was able to come this bit with a compact point and shoot camera—no tripod, no artificial lighting, or the much coveted D-SLR camera and Photoshop software. But, oh boy, I do fancy buying and shooting with a good SLR camera, and then tweaking my shots in Photoshop to add personality. Sigh. The web is a treasure trove of inspiration and I’m so inspired by quite a few blogs I’ve stumbled upon, as well as a few of the amazing talents behind the screen I've met and befriended on social network platforms like twitter and facebook.

I want to dedicate this post to all of you—my most wonderful community of family, friends, long-term visitors and new ones on board—whose constant support is of great value to me, to Plateful. I’m forever touched by the beauty of your words; overwhelmed by the love and generosity you show me. Each note I receive for the recipes you try, the photos you like, or even a scribble to say hello—it gives me joy, it means a ton. It is my confidence booster, I must add. YOU are what makes Plateful. You are my strength and inspiration. Without you, this journey is incomplete, this victory hollow. I know I can never thank you enough for enriching my world and sharing a bit of yours with me. Still, my heartfelt thanks for being such a positive influence in my life.

As I begin a new year, I don’t have much in terms of future aspirations. But eventually, I do hope to streamline this space—set parameters for my posting schedules, work on the much delayed “about” section, organize and update my recipe list. Yes, I do hope to bring some structure to this personal canvas and make it a lovely spot in terms of design, recipes, photography and writing. A space I’d love to create, a space you’d love to visit and linger. 
Now, this special occasion deserves a lovely bouquet, a gift certificate for something special, or at least an invitation to dinner. But alas, I only have this simple dessert to share with you today. As a token of my appreciation. I hope you like it.

For all fans of brownies and cakes, I have this treat for you. It is deep, dark, dense and very, very chocolaty—mini brownie cakes with a chewy crust and flecks of hazelnut! Oh, and dressed up with this absolutely delish milk chocolate ganache, smooth chocolate pearls and chocolate hearts. Serve it with plenty of berries and who could ask for more in one small plateful!

This one is super, super easy and you can make it in a snap. A treat for serious chocoholics!
The original recipe calls for baking in muffin pan. The choice of doing them in two small spring-form cake pans was entirely mine. However, if you don’t have small spring-form pans, use muffin pans. All ingredients are mixed in a single bowl—see, I told you it’s easy. 
Now for a couple of notes to help your brownie making go without a hitch. The most important point to note is the baking time—you really don’t want brownies to be over baked and dry. A good brownie should have a nice, moist center. That is, when you insert a wooden skewer or toothpick you need some moist crumbs on it. You don't want the skewer to come out clean, which means it's over baked. So err on the conservative side with timing, and check after 10 minutes of baking, as most ovens behave differently. Also remember, the better quality of the chocolate you use, the better the end result. I used Lindt 85% cocoa dark chocolate for the cake—it's very rich and intense without being too sweet, is low carb and has a hint of bitter aftertaste. If you are not a fan of bitter dark chocolate, I'd recommend going for 70% cocoa, or even 50% cocoa depending on your preference for sweetness.

Without further ado, here’s the recipe:
Intensely Chocolaty Hazelnut Brownie Cake
Adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly Madeleines, Muffins & More

Ingredients
Makes 2 mini cakes, or 8 medium muffins
Prep time: 15 min, cooking time: 20 min

80g butter, chopped
150g good quality dark eating chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt Excellence)
1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract/essence
2/3 cup (100g) plain flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
50g dark eating chocolate, chopped, extra
¼ cup (30g) hazelnuts, chopped coarsely


Directions

Preheat oven to 2000C/1800C fan–assisted. Grease two small spring-form pans, or eight holes of a 12-hole medium (80ml) muffin pan; line bases with rounds of baking parchment.

To roast hazelnuts, place on an oven tray at 1800C for about 5 minutes, or until browned lightly. Turn out onto a clean tea towel and rub the warm nuts in the towel. Discard the skin that comes off and then coarsely chop them. Set aside.

Combine butter, chocolate and sugar in medium heavy-based saucepan; stir over low heat until smooth. If you are using a microwave, like I did, place butter, chocolate and sugar in a large microwave safe bowl and cook, uncovered, on high (100%) for 2 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.

Transfer mixture to large bowl; stir in egg, extract, sifted flour and cocoa, then extra chocolate and hazelnut. Spoon mixture into prepared pans and gently spread level using a palette knife.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, but is not wet. Start checking on it after 10 minutes of baking—you really don’t want them to be over baked. If they do, they will dry out, toughen and become tasteless as they cool. The center should be nice and moist. Now stand in pan for 5 minutes before turning onto wire rack to cool.

Serve with chocolate ganache (recipe below) or ice-cream, and plenty of fresh berries.

Whipped milk chocolate ganache

Ingredients

200g milk eating chocolate, chopped coarsely (I used Cadbury’s Diary Milk)
2 teaspoon caster sugar
10g butter
½ cup (125ml) double cream

To decorate
Chocolate pearls (I used Godiva milk chocolate)
Chocolate hearts (I used Dr. Oetker)
Directions

Place cream, sugar and chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and cook, uncovered, on high (100%) for 1 minute. Remove from oven and stir until smooth. Let cool completely. Beat the cooled mixture in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Spread the top of each cake with a thick layer of chocolate ganache using a spatula to make simple swirls, or fit a large piping bag with a large fluted tube and pipe generous swirls. Decorate with little chocolate confections like chocolate pearls and hearts.
So here’s a special toast on completing one-derful year. Here’s to Plateful. Here’s to you. Here’s to many more wonderful years around food, photography and fond memories.

I stop with a beaming smile and heavy but happy heart.  

I’m tucking a big hug in here—can you feel it? You are golden!

84 comments:

  1. happy birthday to your lovely blog..wishing many more years of happy blogging ! the cake is awesome and so rich in chocolate. wish i could get a slice..

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    1. Thanks for the lovely wishes! Hope you are having a wonderful New Year.

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  2. congrats.....wishing you many more one-derful years of blogging.....u r simply awesome.....

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  3. Exotic & decadent way to celebrate your space turning one ! hearty Congratulations; Are you sure plateful is just a year old - so much dedication & passion in to the space I feel you are a veteran of sorts ! Much congratulations and sincerely hope & pray you carry on the great work to many more milestones ! Wishing you a joyous 2012 nash !

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    1. Girl, you are so generous with words! Thanks for the loveliness!

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  4. Oh dear... Congrats on ur achievement. That is a sinfully delicious cake and am drooling here. Looks gorgeous...

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  5. Congrats on the blog anniversary and here's wishing many more to come,hun! You've got me tempted with that choc cake this morning.

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  6. Congratulations dear on your blog anniversary, sure you have acheived a lot through your writing and photographs and that's definitely a killer brownie cake to celebrate.

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  7. congrats dear on ur blog anniversary......brownie looks superb and delicious........looking forward for more lovely recipes and pics.........

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  8. Congrats! Love your beautiful beautiful photos and fabulous recipes!

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  9. Brilliantly done with such sinful indulgence. Congrats on this wonderful achievements. Here's to many many years of successful blogging, baking, cooking and writing.

    Lots of love and always,
    Anu

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  10. Congratulations & wishes fr a lovely yr ahead...luvd ur pic & the cake is awesome...bookmarked .. :)

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  11. CONGRATS AND BEAUTIUL PRESENTATION OF BROWNIES.LOVE UR CLICKS

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  12. Congrats on ur first blog aznniversary wish many more years pass with ur amazing recipes and beautiful clicks.......

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  13. Happy Birthday Plateful..!!!
    Loved the cake recipe. The photos are just stunning :)

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  14. Congratulations dear on your blog's 1st anniversary, wishing you many many more to come! Lovely pics and delicious treat of the day :)

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  15. Congratulations on completing one year of Blogging. I sooo... love your blog and pictures. Thanks a ton for the dark Chocolate brownie treat, I love dark chocolate and will definitely bake this!

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  16. Happy 1st Birthday to your baby blog.
    Gorgeous clicks.

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  17. So sweet of you to bake this for us. :D Where do you stay? :P
    Congratulations on your blogiversary! ;) Big fan of your photographs
    -
    Kavi (Edible Entertainment)

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  18. Congrats on ur blog anniversary dear, happy birthday to Plateful, cake looks absolutely stunning and highly irresistible.

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  19. Sorry Nash that I couldnt come all these weeks visiting your blog, I was realy busy in my life..

    Happy birthday Plateful! Never stop blogging Nash, u v got a great talent for details and an eye for beauty. u r blog is one of those who should get an award for excellency. ( I mean it!)

    Lovely hazelnut brownie cake. looks decadent and yummy! =)

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  20. Hey, i use a Cannon powershot SX 110 IS. Its a pretty good camera as point and shoots go. Hearty Congratulations on the blog anniversary. You are doing an amazing job and are a source of inspiration. Keep going with the amazing photos and decadent recipes. Loved the ganache peaks on the brownie cake.

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  21. wow...What a lovely pictures and lovely cake..congrats dear..

    Aarthi
    http://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.com/

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  22. You are so talented Nashira! Congratulations for completing one year of beautiful and inspirational blogging. It is a pleasure to come her and indulge in your lovely space.

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  23. Happy Blog Anniversary!
    The chocolate cake looks heavenly!

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  24. Congrats Dear Keep Rocking !! Cake looks very beautiful fanastic work !! loved it !!

    Ongoing Event - CC-Chocolate Fest

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  25. Happy Blog Anniversary!! cake looks awesome and your clicks are too beautiful!! keep up your great work!!

    Spicy Treats
    OnGoing Event ~ Dish It Out-Brinjal n Garlic

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  26. Congratulations on turning one.On your b'day Plateful I just want to say, that I am a big fan of your beautiful pictures and delicious recipes.The brownie looks sinfully delicious so fit for the celebration.

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  27. awesome , cute clicks :)

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  28. Looks delicious. Would love for you to share your pictures with us over at foodepix.com.

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  29. congrats babe! much more fanfare and many more to go...keep well; stay happy!

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  30. Happy Blog Anniversary...cake looks awesome...superb clicks..

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  31. Oh Nashi, what a milestone! This deserves a warm, tight celebratory hug, and plenty of finger foods..if only we can have a virtual party, eh? It has been a good year knowing you too, all thanks to Plateful:-)

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  32. Congrats on the milestone -- i can definitely see more in the future :)

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  33. Happy anniversary to your wonderful blog Nashira ..wishing you many many more years of wonderful and successful blogging..keep rocking always!!!!
    loved the hazel nut brownies so very much..awesome clicks dear!!!!!!

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  34. Congrats...!!
    lovely clicks...

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  35. Congrats on turning one Nashi....just back from a short break so decided to check out your blog....very impressive I must say....never knew you were so much into cooking....food looks scrumptious (pics convey a lot!!!) n am eager to try out your recipes especially Rogan Josh as it is a hot favorite in my house n also because I am yet to find a recipe that churns out the dish almost close to the one served in restaurants back home....anyways wishing you success always n keep it coming dear!!!

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  36. Very yummy chocolate cake and superb photography.

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  37. Happy b'day to plateful dear Nashira..like this sweet and decadent cake I wish you many more sweet blogging years to come. I am so glad to have found you and your beautiful space Nash..can't wait to see what else you come up with in this new year.

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  38. Happy bday to Plateful!!! Wishing u many more years of wonderful blogging!!! :) and the cake looks so divine..Marvelous presentation...
    Prathima Rao
    prats Corner

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  39. Happy Blogiversary and to many more! That cake looks amazing.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  40. Congrats, and great going!!! Looking forward to many many more recipes, pics and thoughts on this wonderful space of yours!!!

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  41. Happy birthday plateful!! Awesome pics as usual...the cake looks OMG!

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  42. congrats on your mile stone..the brownie looks very tempting!!
    Erivum Puliyum

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  43. Congratulations, and thanks for the brownie to celebrate!!
    I hope this new blogging year it will be even better than the first. I will be here to see it!!
    Kisses, and happy birthday!!

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  44. Congrats on the first year of blogging.Hope this new year will get more better and successful for you. First time here and I am loving your photographs. Great job with that!

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  45. Congrats dear on ur blogs anniversary...and Thank you for starting a masterpiece which makes me say "WOW" everytime I linger around here...Excellent work and do continue it with this enthusiasm...
    Accepted ur brownies and they are superb...Awesome clicks...:)...
    Hey thanks for ur lovely words which inspire me every time I click...

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  46. Happy blog anniversary!....ur pictures are always stunning!...perfect way to celebrate with a yummy brownie!

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  47. happy blog birthday! :) it's awesome to know you!

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  48. Happy Anniversary Plateful...Nice recipe and perfectly baked for the celebration.Exotic !

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  49. A hearty congrats on the milestone & im awed at how much u have accomplished in such a short time! What a beautiful post. the brownie cake with ganache topping is PERFECT for this very special occasion... looks decadent. I guess blogosphere has given all of us the opportunity to put away our inhibitions & express. Love love love ur pics & im amazed u get such perfect clicks with a point & shoot! the possibilities if u were given a DSLR!! :) Cheers!

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  50. Congratulations on your 1st blog anniversary! Looking forward to more wonderful post and stunning photos from you. Awesome cake!

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  51. A very happy b'day to your blog dear. A lovely wonderful post and eye catching pics.

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  52. Helooooo Lovely Nashi...
    Congrats a bunch! you have done wonderful job the whole 365 days!
    I read this whole year recap & pleasure here..seems cool, I wish you will stay happy & your blog grow more awesome! Lotssssss of wishes & thanks for sharing these awesome clicks,,I want a piece of cake now...!!!

    p.s.you know mery nephew ka nam Nasir hy or me usko pyar say Nashi kehti hun! & whenever I call him..I think about you sweety pie,,
    Love ~

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  53. happy blog anniversery!!! as usual too lovely clicks..keep it up nashi

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  54. congrats n super yummy awesome cake... love to have one slice atleast..

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  55. Congrats on hitting milestone...wish u r space many rocking years....Nash u rock...cake makes me die for...

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  56. Congrats Nash! wishes for many more years! cake looks luscious, wouldn't mind a one fat slice! first pic is awesome!!

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  57. I AM LATE! SO SO SO Sorry babe.
    Wish your blog a VERY VERY HAPPY 1st Birthday. Your work is filled with inspiration and motivation. You are a true friend and I am so glad to find you. I wish you many many many zillion years of success and happiness. You are so talented sweetie ..keep rocking and keep shining :)

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  58. Wishing you a very happy 1 year blogaversary, and looking forward to another beautiful and delicious year!

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  59. Wishing you a very happy blog anniversary n awesome chocolate cake.

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  60. Happy 1st Blogiversary Nash!!!! What a gorgeous cake and amazing photography... I can't get enough of it even I'm looking at them for the past minutes! Keep up the great work because we love your posts very much and enjoy reading them... Congrats! :-)

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  61. happy bloggoversary....wish i cud have one bite of that yummy cake.

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  62. congrats on achieving this milestone nash and may u have many many more. i love hazelnut and although not at all a choc fan, the combination is deadly n perfect :)

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  63. Happy First Blogaversary plateful and best wishes for many more.
    The cake looks superb, I don't care for milk chocolate, actually love that Lindt 85% cocoa chocolate. Hazelnuts are good too. The photographs are exquisite. Excellent baking here.

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  64. beautiful post congrats on the blog anniversary
    cheers Akheela

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  65. Congrats Nashi............Cake looks awesome..........

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  66. Guess I'm quite late in wishing u a very happy 1st blogo-anniversary! And I'm sure you will keep rocking with your beautiful work & tempting treats!!

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  67. Oh God Nashi..I dont know how I missed out on wishing your blog a very happy birthday !!! Here's to many many many number of years of blogging, gorgeous pictures and mind blowing recipes !

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  68. Thanks so much amazing people for the lovely notes and vote of support, means a lot to me! ♥

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  69. Happy Blog Anniversary and wishing u many many more!It definitely is a treat to us, having u around:) Hugs.

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  70. Happy blog-iversary!lovely pics and beautiful treat to our tummies and eyes!

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  71. First of all,Many Congratulations to you!:-) You have been thanking all of us,but thanks to you too,I am so sure that your blog - the recipes and photographs,are an inspiration to many.So,good for us that you are on our blogosphere!:-)
    I did read the post,the introduction,it all makes so much of sense,it is touching.Issues that all bloggers face,specially beginners,but they tend to melt away as we make friends and get their much needed support.
    The brownie recipe gets bookmarked,without saying!:) I cannot put into words how much I love brownies.In fact,I just baked some with white chocolate a couple of days back

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  72. Hearty Congrats, Nashira - Wish you many more years of delighting us with your recipes and fantastic photography :) hugs, priya

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  73. First time here dear, I am wordless after reading your post and am still drooling over those pictures, love them, you have such a lovely space, your happy follower, do stop by my space sometime..

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  74. Congrats Nashi on your blog Anniversary! Really happy for you. Just enjoy reading all your posts. And admire your dedication. You are an inspiration to bloggers. That's a yummy treat to celebrate.
    Best wishes!!!

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  75. Congrats!! for ur milestone. All the pictures are good. Best wishes for upcoming posts............

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  76. Hey Nashira :).. i m sooooo glad i dropped into ur blog!! i was like awestruck with the posts of your first page itself.. i simply fellin love with ur blog ;)... i m ever so glad to follow ur blog and happy bday to ur blog too :) :)...

    if time permits do check my small world of cooking space too...http://neetzkitchen.blogspot.com/
    I would love to have you among my friends list too.. Do add urself :) :)

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  77. Wow...... What a delicious cake is this! The existing Intensely Chocolaty Mini Hazelnut Brownie Cake is really looking awesome and full of taste. As the concept and design of this cake are really looking wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

    scrapbook supplies

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  78. Congrats on the win, Nash! I knew this would be one of the winners when I saw it.:)

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A million thank you's for stopping by, taking the time to connect, and coming back to visit again. I genuinely appreciate each of your kind thoughts, lovely words, love and support. Happy, happy to hear from you, and hope to see you again!

♥ Nashi