Flower and Sugar

Flourless Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

Happy World Neutella Day! Matt and I had some guests over for dinner recently and I made this cake for dessert. I chose it because I love neutella and the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts reminded me of it – that and who doesn’t like a layer of ganache on top of their cake? One person asked if I bought the cake, which I took to be a huge compliment for this recipe.

I have made other flourless cakes in the past which have all turned out great, but this one was nice with a crunch of hazelnuts and it was lighter than most flourless cakes with whipped egg whites folded in. I brought the egg whites to soft peaks by hand (with some help from Matt). I will not do that again – if you have a hand mixer, please use it for the egg whites with this recipe!

I was not able to find hazelnuts with the skins removed. What I did was roast them as the recipe calls for, then while they were still warm I rubbed them in a kitchen towel. It’s a little messy, but I think it worked well overall. I wasn’t able to remove all the skin and I think the cake still turned out just fine.

Just as a side note, this book is gorgeous. It has a lot of beautiful and unique treats that I can’t wait to make!

Recipe (From Bake and Decorate By Fiona Cairns)

For the cake

  • ½ oz skinned hazelnuts
  • 5 ½ oz 70% cacaco bittersweet chocolate chopped (I used a nice 4oz bar of bittersweet and 1 ½ oz of nice semisweet chocolate chips)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs separating the yolks from the whites

Preheat the oven to 350F. I sprayed an 8 inch cake pan with cooking spray and put a layer of parchment paper in the bottom and sprayed that with cooking spray. The bottom of the cake becomes the top when you remove it from the pan, so you really want to make sure it won’t stick.

Roast the hazelnuts in the oven for 5-10 minutes until you can just smell them. Watch them closely so they don’t burn. Let them cool a little (or remove the skins, see note above), then grind them finely in a food processor. Over a double boiler (or a heat proof bowl over a sauce pot of simmering water) melt the chocolate, sugar, and butter together. Remove from the heat and stir in the ground hazelnuts. While the chocolate mixture cools, beat the egg yolks. Next beat the egg yolk mixture into the chocolate mixture, being sure to incorporate quickly so you don’t get scrambled egg in your cake batter.

Beat the egg whites (I would highly recommend an electric hand mixer if you have one, but you can do this by hand. I did). Bring the egg whites to soft peaks. Mix a small amount of whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up then gently fold in the rest of the egg whites. It is ok the have small streaks of egg whites in the batter, you want to preserve the lightness of the egg whites in this otherwise very dense cake. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 20 minutes. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes then run a knife around the pan and let it cool completely. Carefully turn the cake out onto the cake stand or serving plate and remove the paper.

For the ganache

  • 3 ½ oz 70% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chopped (I used nice semisweet chocolate chips)
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • fresh fruit for garnish

Melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and butter in a double boiler stirring well as it melts. Let it cool a little to thicken then pour on the cake and spread over the top of the cake.

It’s very pretty if you line the top of the cake with fresh berries, but one of my guests did not care for berries so we had them on the side.

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