Just in case you haven’t eaten enough dessert over the past two weeks, here’s another of those wonderful flourless chocolate confections – the combination of toasted hazelnuts and chocolate creates an absolutely heavenly cake with just the right amount of nuttiness; one of my favorites and totally worthy of a mention here.
This cake freezes well or keeps in the fridge for about 4 days but bring it back to room temperature before serving. I decorated it with home made hazelnut praline and a scattering of edible gold dust for a festive look but you can use chopped roasted hazelnuts or just leave it plain.
Serve with or without a dollop of whipped cream on the side.
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT TORTE
Ingredients for the torte:
6 oz (170g) of best quality chopped bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (or chocolate chips such as Ghirardelli)
4 oz (114g) of whole hazelnuts
2/3 cup (11 tablespoons), plus 3 more tablespoons of fine white sugar
4 oz (114g) of unsalted butter at room temp
5 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon of salt
Ingredients for the glaze:
6 oz (170g) of best quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup (118ml) of heavy (double) whipping cream
Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Butter a 9 inch (23cm) spring-form cake pan and line the base with a round of baking parchment. Butter the parchment and dust the inside of the pan with a little flour, knocking out any excess.
Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t come into contact with the water (Use a Pyrex glass pan so you can see what’s going on here). Stir until smooth, then cool.
Meanwhile, spread the hazelnuts in a shallow roasting pan and toast in the middle of the oven until they turn golden – about 7-10 minutes. Wrap them in a cloth and rub the skins off as much as possible. Don’t worry about any remaining stubborn bits of skin. Cool them completely.
Transfer the nuts to a food processor and add 3 tablespoons of sugar – grind until fine.
In a large bowl, beat together the softened butter with the remaining sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the salt, vanilla and melted chocolate. Finally beat in the hazelnut mixture and combine everything well.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks. Using a large metal spoon, gently fold about a quarter of the whites into the cake mixture to lighten it, then continue with the remaining whites using a gentle cutting motion until everything is well blended.
Spread the batter evenly into the spring-form pan and bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with just a few crumbs sticking to it.
Cool completely in the pan on a rack then invert onto a serving plate – peel off the parchment.
Make the glaze:
Put the chocolate into a small metal bowl. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan and pour over the chocolate; stir until completely smooth and allow it to thicken for about 20 minutes.
Spread the glaze over the top and sides of the torte and garnish with chopped hazelnuts. Allow to stand at room temperature for about 2 hours until the glaze is set. Keep cool and covered loosely or freeze. Be sure to bring it back to room temp before eating.
Happy New Year!