Categories
Baking Chocolate Food General Recipes

The Hazelnuttiest Cake in the World

My very first post on this blog was about a Nutella cake. While baking that cake, I used a recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book, ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’, as a guide. I really liked that cake, as is evident from my post about it, but there was one thing about it that bothered me. I didn’t like the fact that the cake called for Nutella, which is after all a processed food from the supermarket. I’d rather make a cake from scratch, or as close to from scratch as is possible for someone who lives in a little apartment in a big city. That way, I have a little more control over what goes into it. Last week, I tried making a more ‘wholesome’ and ‘homemade’ option as it were, based off a recipe from ‘Baking Illustrated’.

How did it turn out you ask? Well see for yourself:

Recipe for Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Truly, I liked the taste of this cake even better than my earlier attempt; the big bonus of this new recipe is that the cake turns out even more hazelnutty, which is GOOD, because hazelnuts are heavenly 🙂

If you want to make this cake too, here’s what you will need:

Equipment:

A 23 cm or 9 inch spring-form pan, two large bowls, two smaller bowls, a hand-held or stand-alone mixer or a whisk, a food-processor or mortar and pestle, and a tea towel.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

6 free range eggs (I insist on free-range after seeing some horrific videos of how chicks and hens are treated in “egg factories”.

A pinch of salt

1 stick of unsalted butter 

200 g hazelnuts

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

175 g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)

For the Icing:

150 ml heavy cream or whipping cream

150 g good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), chopped

2-3 Tablespoons fo Frangelico

A pinch of Salt

2 handfuls of hazelnuts 

A half cup or so of dark chocolate flakes (you can make these by using a paring knife or a vegetable peeler on some dark chocolate).

Preparing the Ingredients:

To begin with, I made sure to lay all the ingredients out on my dining table. When you’re baking, unless the recipe otherwise specifies, it is best to use all ingredients at room temperature. Next, I turned on the oven and preheated it to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Preparing the hazelnuts: I toasted the nuts (both those you need for the cake and those you need for decorating the top of the cake) in the oven at 350 Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes, tossing them once or twice in-between. Once they were lightly browned and I could smell the delicious hazelnutty aroma, I took them out of the oven and let them cool for a bit. Then, I placed them in a tea-towel and rubbed the nuts against each other until their skins peeled off.

Next, I put 200 g of the toasted and skinned nuts in a food processor, along with 2 tablespoons of flour and 1/4 cup of sugar and processed them till fine (you could also use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle).

Preparing the chocolate: I melted the chocolate in a microwave, taking care to use a low heat setting, so as not to burn the chocolate.

Preparing the eggs: I separated the egg yolks from the whites, placing 5 egg whites in a large bowl and 6 egg yolks in a smaller bowl. (You can throw away the extra egg white or use it in a face or hair mask.)

Some people think separating the egg white and yolk and beating them separately is a waste of time, but it isn’t if your recipe does not call for baking powder/soda. This is because all the air in your cake will have to come from the egg whites, since there is no chemical raising agent added to the cake.

I was now ready to begin! What follows are step-by-step instructions to re-create the rich nutty cake I made today! Enjoy!

Method:

1. Place the butter in a large bowl and beat until fluffy. Next, add the remaining three-quarters of sugar, one-quarter at a time, until creamy and almost white. Now add the egg yolks two tablespoons at a time, beating well throughout. Next, add the melted chocolate (which would have cooled a bit by now) and beat the mixture until the chocolate is blended in. Then, gently stir in the hazelnut meal that you have already prepared in the food processor.

2. Now we beat the egg whites; this is the slightly tricky part of the recipe. Add a pinch of salt to the whites and then beat them until they are ‘stiff but not dry”. What this means is that you want to be able to make the foamy whites rise to a peak with your finger.

How to properly beat egg whites
Stiff egg-whites
Another way to test this is to take a clean dry egg and try to float it on top of the egg-white foam. If it sinks you’re not done. If it floats completely you’ve overdone it. If it sinks just a quarter of an inch, well you’re egg-whites are perfect then! Make sure the bowl and the whisk you use are perfectly clean, i.e. they are free from oil and water.

3. Once the egg whites are ready, add a dollop of the egg-white-foam to the mixture from step 1 and mix it in. Next, very gently and with a light hand, fold in the rest of the foam. This is important; don’t be rough at this stage; because we want to preserve the airy-ness and lightness of the foam. Here is a video that shows you how to do it:

4. When you’re done folding the foam in, pour the batter in a greased and floured 9 inch or 23 cm springform pan.

Delicious Hazelnut Cake

5. Slide the pan into the oven and set the timer for 50 minutes. I would go and check on the cake toward the tail-end of this period, say around 45 minutes in. The cake is done when you can insert a tooth-pick gently into the cake, about halfway between the centre and the edge of the cake, and it comes out clean when you pull it out.

6. When it’s done, take the cake out and cool it on a cooling rack. Once it has cooled remove the sides of the pan.

(At this stage of the process, I already noticed one thing that was better about this cake when compared to my earlier Gianduja cake. The surface of this cake was smoother; there were no cracks on this cake at all. Also, it was more evenly baked. (The small nick visible in the picture was made by me with a knife, it wasn’t a crack on the surface.)

Hazelnut cake

7. Now the cake is ready and it’s time to make the icing! Heat 150 ml of cream and 150 g of chopped chocolate in a saucepan over low heat. Once it’s melted, add a pinch of salt and the Frangelico. Mix and let the ganache sit on the counter and cool for a bit. In the meantime, take the 2 handfuls of hazelnuts you toasted earlier, and crush them in a mortar or pestle or processor. I like to crush them into small chunks, you can choose to crush them more finely, or coarsely, whatever works for you.

8. Once cooled a bit, pour the ganache over the cake and spread it evenly over it, using an icing spatula or a large, broad knife.

Icing a Hazelnut cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache
I couldn’t glaze the cake until the day after I baked it because I had errands to run. Mysteriously, more than a quarter of the cake just disappeared overnight, so I ended up glazing the left-over part of the cake 😛
Next, garnish the cake with crushed hazelnuts and dark chocolate flakes and serve with a shot of Frangelico 🙂

Rich, hazelnut cake served with Frangelico
This rich hazelnut cake tastes best when served with Frangelico
Also, a little tip, if you’re going to store the cake for a while, make sure to heat it up quickly in the microwave when you take it out of the fridge. Just heat for 20-30 seconds on a low setting; both the cake and the icing taste waaay nicer that way.

Mmm this cake was utterly delicious, it’s totally worth the effort of baking it, I promise!

Chocolatey Hazelnut Cake
Eating my Delicious Hazelnut Cake 🙂
Categories
Baking Chocolate Food Recipes

Flourless Gianduja Cake (a.k.a. the best Nutella cake in the Universe)

Ever since I returned from India last week I have been feeling sickish intermittently. I woke up this morning feeling more drained than usual, so in an effort to cheer myself up I decided to bake.

I walked over to the neighborhood Public Library, which, by the way, happens to be 2 minutes away from my apartment, and checked out Nigella Lawson’s “How to be a Domestic Goddess”. I browsed through the book and when I came upon her recipe for “Torta Alla Gianduja”, well I was quite excited to say the least. You see, I have loved Nutella for most of my adult life with an unhealthy, even disturbing fervour and devotion. (I would have loved it as a child, but I grew up in India at a time when “foreign products” were difficult to come by. My parents brought me chocolate from all over the world because they traveled quite a bit, but for some reason they never did buy me nutella. Even peanut butter I only chanced upon when my American cousins brought a jar with them on their visit to India. (Needless to say I was smitten, but that ramble is for another blog-post.))

Back to the recipe, the Nutella cake seemed fairly simple to make- so I decided to give it a try. I modified the recipe a bit, and the icing I used (the recipe for which can be found in my next post) was quite different from the one Nigella recommended. You can find her original recipe here:

What follows is a blow-by-blow account of how the experiment went, complete with amateur pictures taken with my iPhone.

What you will need:

Equipment:

A 23 cm spring-form pan, two large bowls, two smaller bowls, a hand-held or stand-alone mixer or a whisk, a food-processor or mortar and pestle, and a tea towel.

Ingredients:

6 free range eggs (I insist on free-range after seeing some horrific videos of how chicks and hens are treated in “egg factories”.

A pinch of salt

1 stick of salted butter (the recipe calls for unsalted butter, but I like a little bit more salt in my chocolate recipes than most, I find it balances the flavour well. In addition, salted butter is cheaper at the super-market by mine (for some mysterious reason). Therefore, I decided to use salted butter.)

1 375g jar of Nutella

1 Tbsp Jamaican Rum (the recipe calls for Frangelico, but my neighborhood LCBO (for my non-Ontario friends, this is the only store that sells alcohol in Ontario, apart from the beer store and a few random wine stores that sell only Canadian wine) (it’s weird I know!) didn’t have any.)

100 g Hazelnuts

100g Lindt dark chocolate ( with at least 70 % cocoa solids)

To begin with, I made sure to lay all the ingredients out on my dining table. When you’re baking, unless the recipe otherwise specifies, it is best to use all ingredients at room temperature. Next, I turned on the oven and preheated it to 375 degrees farenheit (that’s 180 celsius).

Preparing the hazelnuts: I toasted the nuts in the oven at 375 farenheit for about 10 minutes, tossing them once or twice in-between. Next, I let them cool a bit and then placed them in a tea-towel. Then I rubbed the nuts against the towel until their skins peeled off. Then, I put the nuts in a food processor (you could also use a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle) and processed them till fine.

Preparing the chocolate: I melted the chocolate over a double boiler (you can use a microwave, but be careful not to burn the chocolate then).

I was now ready to begin! What follows are step-by-step instructions to re-create the delish cake I made today! Enjoy!

The first step of the baking process involved separating the whites and yolks of 6 eggs. (Make sure to put the whites in a large bowl). Some people think separating the egg white and yolk and beating them separately is a waste of time. But it isn’t if your recipe does not call for baking powder/soda. Your cake will not rise properly if you don’t beat the whites properly in that cake.

After separating the whites and yolks, add the pinch of salt to the whites and then beat them until they are ‘stiff but not dry”. What this means is that you want to be able to make the foamy whites rise to a peak with your finger. Another way to test this is to take a clean dry egg and try to float it on top of the egg-white foam. If it sinks you’re not done. If it floats completely you’ve overdone it. If it sinks just a quarter of an inch- well you’re egg-whites are perfect then! Make sure the bowl and the whisk you use are perfectly clean- i.e. they are free from oil and water.

Stiff egg-white
Next, beat the Nutella and butter together, until they are well-mixed and creamy. Then add the rum. Beat. Next add egg yolks. Beat. Finally beat in the ground hazelnuts.

Nutella batter!
Then, fold in the dark chocolate. Next, add a dollop of the egg-white-foam and beat it in. Finally, slowly and gently fold in the rest of the foam. This is important- don’t be rough at this stage- because we want to preserve the airy-ness and lightness of the foam. Here is a video that shows you how to do it:

When you’re done folding the foam in, pour the batter in a greased and floured 23 inch springform pan.

Batter in the pan
Slide the pan into the oven and set the timer for 40 minutes. I would go and check on it towards the tail-end of this period. The cake is done when it starts separating from the sides of the tin. You can do the tooth-pick test to confirm (insert a toothpick gently in and see if it is clean when you pull it out).

When it’s done, take it out and cool it on a cooling rack. I don’t have one so I made a makeshift one:

My cake cooling!
And when it’s cooled remove the sides of the pan:

As you can see, I couldn
Now the cake is ready! I am off to go make some chocolate ganache to ice it with now. Yay! You can find the recipe for the icing in the next post. Also, a little tip- if you’re going to store the cake for a while, make sure to heat it up quickly in the microwave when you take it out of the fridge. Just heat for 20-30 seconds on low- both the cake and the icing taste waaay nicer that way.

Oh and by the way, since the cake is flour-less it’s gluten-free!