4.18.2015

Hazelnut Chocolate Heaven - or - A Torta Grows Up

This is a recipe that I have been tinkering with for a while now, and I am pretty happy with how it has come out. Happy enough to share it!

Recipe evolution is a lot faster than human evolution (I even question whether or not some humans have evolved at all...)

I love the creative process - it's like science.

Had my high school science experiments resulted in cake, I might have been been the next Einstein.

This isn't Nathan Myrhvold science, however. It's just basic recipe tinkering.

It won't win me a prize or an international award. (Don't you think there should be a Nobel Piece Prize for the best slice of cake?)

It all started with a simple nut cake - or torta. The kind you get in a small town in Italy, the kind someone's nonna makes.

Ground hazelnuts. Eggs. Sugar. The original was moist, nutty and almost perfect. It needed something. Or, rather, I wanted it to grow up and be something better.

I added a ganache glaze. It was well received. One friend said that it was the best thing I had ever made. I disagreed... Like most parents for their children, I had higher aspirations for my nutty offspring.

I added cocoa powder to the batter and it is pretty darned good, if I do say so myself. And, it's gluten-free, and easily made dairy-free by skipping the ganache.

~ David

Torta di Nocciole e Cioccolato

1 scant cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
7 ounces hazelnuts, roasted, skins removed and finely ground
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 large egg whites
6 ounces chocolate - 54% cacao
6 tablespoons cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment. Set aside.

Using a handheld mixer, cream the sugar and egg yolks until very pale and thick. Add the cocoa powder and carefully mix into the eggs. Next, add the ground nuts.The batter will be very thick. If it is so thick that you worry youve done something wrong, you haven't!

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using the handheld mixer with clean beaters, beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form.

Using a spatula, stir in a third of the whites to loosen the thick batter. It will still be mercilessly thick. Gently as possible, fold in the remaining whites. Scrape into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. Let cool on a rack.

When cool, run a thin spatula around the edge and remove cake from the pan. Set it right side up on a platter. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate in the cream, stirring until smooth. Pour over the top of the cake and let cool before slicing.


Serves 8-10.


38 comments:

  1. Yum, this looks great David!!

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  2. Oh you have no idea how much I love, love, love this cake, David! I'm a hazelnut lover (do we even need to mention chocolate?) so this is something I absolutely have to make! The only problem is I will have to wait for my daughter to be away for a while since she is severely allergic to all tree nuts :( She just so happens to be going to the other side of the country for uni in August, so I'm literally putting this on my calendar for when I get back! :)

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    1. Thanks, Christina! August isn't so far away, unless you're waiting for hazelnuts and chocolate! I assure you, it's worth the wait.

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  3. Nutty cakes are probably my favourites as they're generally much more moist than flour-based ones. And hazelnuts! One of my favourite nuts.

    Ganache or no ganache, this sure is one fine cake.

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    1. I agree, John... And I love this cake with and without the ganache, but the ganache is pretty nice.

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  4. Oh David, This cake looks and sounds luscious!! Love the addition of cocoa! What could be better than nuts and chocolate? Not much! I would really love to give this one a try! Have a great weekend!

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    1. Kathy - in one of the scientific tests, I added more cocoa and it changed the texture of the cake too much. This is really once case where less is definitely more! Thanks for your kind comment!

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  5. Oh my! David, I am swooning over this cake of yours! Love it! And I love your line 'Had my high school science experiments resulted in cake, I might have been been the next Einstein.' : )

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    1. Well, maybe not Einstein, Liz.... but maybe the next Alton Brown! Glad you like this cake.

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  6. This is the best,chocolaty-dreamy good cake ever....so beautiful,elegant and with ground hazelnuts and topped with a dark chocolate ganache....pure bliss in every slice of cake...thanks for ever inspiring...Have A Good Day! :-)

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    1. Thank you so much, Rakesh and Swikruti! Your comments always make my day so much better!

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  7. This looks wonderful! If you're a time-pressed slob like me, how much hazelnut flour could I use instead of grinding my own hazelnuts? You can tell me if that simply won't do... or if I use the same volume as the nuts themselves. Also, have you considered topping it with a nutella ganache? Too much?

    Thanks for another amazing GF recipe. I'm about to make the second of your wonderful almond cakes soon... have the almond paste in the freezer awaiting grating etc. xo

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    1. I guess I would start with a cup of ground hazelnuts, Gaelen. I am weighing ingredients more and more because I find it more accurate. I have consider a nutella ganache - never too much, as far as I am concerned. :)

      Enjoy the almond cake! xox

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  8. Wow, wow! This looks absolutely amazing. Adding this to my list to make. Thank you, David, for your recipe tinkering. I fully support it!

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    1. I pretty much knew this recipe would catch your attention, Nicole! :) I love GF nut cakes, too!

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  9. This looks delicious! I really love the measuring cups and spoons as well -- lovely.

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    1. Thanks, Kirsten! The spoons and cups were Christmas gifts from Mark. I love them, too!

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  10. Delicious tinkering. Did you know that the original tinker-er was a metal worker who specialized in kitchen utensils. I don't think I made that up, but I might have. GREG

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    1. It sounds plausible. Now, Greg, if you were the original tinker-er, what would be the first gadget you would tink?

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  11. I'm Caitlin, Diana Peel's daughter, and this cake looks delicious! I'm going to bake it for my friend's 30th birthday party this Thursday. I'll have my mom tell you how it turns out!

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    1. Thanks, Caitlin! I hope you like it. It is really a nice GF option.

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  12. I must confess I had to reread your post a couple of times as I was just a little bit dazzled by your measuring cups and spoons... love love love and now I have to go back and have another look at that magnificent cake...

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    1. You are so sweet, Karen. Yes, I love those spoons and measures. I have so many fun ones that aren't accurate - but these are quite so, so I use them often. And you are kind to call my simple cake "magnificent" after all the beautiful creations you make! xo

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  13. Hehe, love the Nobel Piece Prize... which you could maybe win if you go on like this!

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    1. I have to say, Fiona, I thought that was pretty clever myself! :) I am excited to say that we have 4 or 5 Honors College students coming to Milano this summer to work with the International Traditional Knowledge Institute. If you see a gaggle of Americans that are really smart and interested in food, they may be mine!

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  14. David, a lovely "nutty cake" - which is something I always treasure! I see you are back to those cups measurements...I shall take you shopping for a wonderful metric scale, dear friend!
    Liebe Grüsse,
    Andrea

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    1. Oh, dear... I have a perfectly good scale with metric and ounces. It all depends on the recipe and how I make it. If I have time I convert to weights as well as measures... but most Americans don't have a scale and use cups. Glad you like the cake!

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  15. It simply doesn't get much better than chocolate and hazelnuts -- heaven, it is!

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    1. Yep, pure heaven, Valentina. I just wish it weren't so easy to make!

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  16. I just licked my computer monitor.

    How embarrassing.

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    1. Colette - you only need to be embarrassed if you think the screen licked you back. :)

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  17. Beautiful. This reminds me of the one I made many years ago - however, it is not gluten free. So many friends and family are going the gluten free way. This will be good to have on file. Thanks for sharing, David!

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    1. Tahnks, Cathleen! I really love gluten free recipes that don't require gluten free flours. They seem more "organic" in their creation. And they taste great, too. (It reminds me of when people substituted carob for chocolate. That was an awful phase!)

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  18. The chocolate/cocoa duo guarantees the best chocolate flavor imo, so it's no wonder you thought so too, haha! Love this combo, I will never ever tire of hazelnut chocolate cakes David. I used to make one by Alice Medrich, and it definitely is better with a glaze. Good call!

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    1. I just love nut cakes, and hazelnuts are a favorite. A good glaze can help almost any cake, Paula! I will have to look up Alice Medrich's recipe. Thanks!

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  19. Such a beautiful photos! And this tart with hazelnut and great amount of chocolate looks delicious!

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    1. Thanks, Termet - yes, hazelnut and chocolate are a favorite combination of mine, too.

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