It’s probably because my roots are in Black Sea that I am crazy about hazelnuts. Out of all the nuts in the world, hazelnuts are by far my favourite. And I believe they make the best couple together with chocolate.
I looked for a long time a good chocolate and hazelnut cake recipe. I was looking for something where you could have a nice texture and could taste both chocolate and hazelnut well. Finally, I found this one within BBC food pages by the Hairy Bikers.
The original recipe calls for hazelnut liqueur or amaretto but since I didn’t have any of them available at home, I used orange juice.
The recipe does not use any flour, it is crushed hazelnuts that give the texture. There is also no leavening agent such as baking powder or baking soda, it is the whisked egg whites that give enough air to the cake to rise.
The original name of this cake is Torta Gianduia. Gianduia is a special hazelnut and chocolate spread originating from Piedmont region of Italy. Contemporary version is Nutella.
The cake has many steps to make, but all the steps are quite easy so it only takes time to make it but not really the biggest effort. Besides, it leaves a nice sweet taste in your mouth, but it is not heavy somehow. Plus, it is very elegant! So go to your kitchen now and start preparing the cake, you will find that the ingredients are also very easy to find!
(for a springform cake tin / cake mould of 23cm in diameter)
350 gr. blanched hazelnuts
200 gr. butter, plus a bit extra for greasing the mould
200 gr. dark chocolate (70% minimum), broken into small pieces
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites
200 gr. light brown sugar
3 tbsp / 45 ml. orange juice (or hazelnut or amaretto liqueur)
200 gr. chocolate and hazelnut spread (Nutella works the best of course..)
1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
2. Put the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast them in the middle rack of the oven for about 10 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Do not over-roast them. Take them out of the oven and let them cool for a few minutes.
3. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C. Prepare your cake mould by buttering. Set aside.
4. Take 200 gr of hazelnuts and put the rest aside. Put these 200 gr hazelnuts into a food processor.
5. In a mixing bowl, put egg yolks and light brown sugar and beat them until you get a light coloured creamy mixture.
6. In heat-proof bowl, put chocolate pieces and butter. Melt both partially in bain-marie style (on top of boiling water).
7. When half of the butter melts, take the bowl away from boiling water and melt the remaining chocolate and butter with the residual heat.
8. Add crushed hazelnuts to chocolate and whisk.
9. Add egg yolk / sugar mixture and whisk more. Put the chocolate mixture aside.
10. In a very clean mixing bowl with no grease left at all, put egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form.
11. Inside the chocolate mixture, pour orange juice (or liqueur if you used that instead). Whisk a bit to soften the mixture which is slightly harder by now.
12. Fold in beaten egg whites. First take a few spoons of the beaten egg whites, whisk a bit, then add the rest and fold using a rubber spatula.
13. Pour the cake batter into the mould. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the cake is firm, in the middle rack.
14. Cover the surface of the cake with hazelnut/chocolate spread.
15. Chop roughly the remaining 150 gr. hazelnuts you set aside in step 4 and spread on top of the cake for final decoration. Bon ap!