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.
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 you’ve 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.