So… about the title. I know, the word “mayonnaise” doesn’t exactly inspire confidence when applied to a cake recipe, but using mayonnaise in cakes is actually pretty common, and makes sense– after all, what is mayonnaise but oil, eggs, and a little acid? And when you’re trying to add richness to a cake without adding dairy (sour cream is my usual go-to for stuff like this), it sounds like a great option.
I made a huge batch of cupcakes– half chocolate, half yellow cake– for a joint birthday party this winter, and when I say “huge” I mean “100+ guests HUGE.” And one of the birthday girls was allergic to dairy, so rather than single her out by making her a few “special” cupcakes, I decided to make the chocolate cupcakes dairy-free in their entirety.
I do have a dairy-free chocolate cake recipe that I use for all of my standard chocolate cakes, but honestly, when it came to making several dozen cupcakes I decided that it would actually be easier (if not cheaper) to start with cake mix. Duncan Hines chocolate fudge cake mix is naturally dairy-free, it was on sale at the grocery store, and I didn’t have to worry about measuring out dry ingredients or buying expensive cocoa. Works for me! All I needed to do was doctor it up!
I’ll admit right now that I shamelessly stole the idea for this dish from a local restaurant’s seasonal sandwich, which combined sprouts, mustard, and hazelnuts in such a delicious way that I was inspired to make my own (non-vegetarian) version.
This side dish practically screams fall, and is hearty enough to use as a main dish for a light meal. The sprouts get almost sweet while roasting, while the hazelnuts add earthiness and crunch, the bacon adds salt and fat, and the mustard sauce is sharp and creamy at the same time. The flavors just blend together so well that I can’t believe I’d never heard of the combination before.
I can’t really put down quantities here, since I basically just threw things together until they looked about right. This is the kind of dish that will always be made “according to taste.” So here’s how:
1. Take a bunch of brussels sprouts and cut off the stems and outer leaves. If they’re particularly large, cut them in half.
2. Toss the sprouts in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees F for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender with crispy brown bits.
3. In the meantime, cut up several slices of bacon and fry until crispy. Remove the bacon bits to drain, dump out most of the grease, and toss a small handful of chopped hazelnuts into the pan. Toast them in the bacon grease for a few minutes, until they start to smell nutty.
4. Mix up some sharp mustard and some mayonnaise in a small bowl in about a 1:1 ratio.
5. Toss the sprouts, bacon, hazelnuts, and mustard sauce together and serve hot.