Sunday, December 5, 2010

Torta Alla Gianduia (Chocolate Hazelnut Cake)

A dear friend was coming over last weekend for an early birthday dinner, and when asked what type of dessert she would like her reply was chocolate, chocolate, and chocolate.  No problem!

I found this recipe in Nigella's How To Be a Domestic Goddess and it sounded perfect.  Not only does it have two full bars of bittersweet chocolate in it, but it has Nutella in it as well.  Nutella has to be one of my favorite things in the world.  I could (and have) eat it directly out of the jar with a spoon.  There are also ground hazelnuts in the cake and whole toasted hazelnuts on top.  So yeah, not exactly good for the waistline.

This cake, while easy to make, did take some time, but it was worth it since the birthday girl loved every bite. We also made up some Frangelico-spiked whipped cream which in my opinion is a necessity for this dense rich cake.  In all honesty though, this isn't something I would make again.  Mike likened it to a truffle in cake form, and while I like truffles this was a bit much.  I generally don't care for flourless cakes, and I felt a bit like I had a rock in my stomach after eating it, which isn't really what anyone is looking for from a dessert.  It's pretty though isn't it?

for the cake:
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
  • 14 ounces nutella
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico or rum or water (we used Frangelico, of course)
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts, scant
  • 4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted

for the icing:

  • 4 ounces hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Frangelico or rum or water (Frangelico)
  • 4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350-degrees.
Prepare a 9-inch springform pan: grease and line with parchment.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and nutella, then add Frangelico, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with a dollop of egg white before gently folding in the rest of the egg whites a third at a time. Pour into the prepared pan and cook for 40 minutes or until the sides come away from the pan and then cool on the rack.
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan until the aroma wafts up and they begin to brown. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add the cream, liquer or water, and chopped chocolate and heat gently. Once the chocolate is melted, take the pan off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency for icing just the top of the cake.
Ice the top of the cake and then dot heavily with roasted hazelnuts.

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