About a month ago, Jason went to watch a March Madness basketball game over at the house of the infamous Equivocal Epicurean commenter, JMan. Being alone with nothing to do on a Friday night, I made a chocolate hazelnut cake from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess, which I surprised him with when he came home. Just because. 🙂

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Torta alla Gianduia

6 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
14 oz Nutella (1 standard jar)
1 TB Frangelico, rum, or water
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts (I toasted and peeled* raw ones and then ground them up in my food processor)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (I did this over a double boiler)

Icing:

4 oz whole hazelnuts (toasted and peeled*)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 TB Frangelico, rum, or water
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Whisk the egg whites and salt in a large bowl until stiff but not dry. Be careful not to overbeat and stop as soon as when the whisk is turned upside down, the peaks don’t collapse.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together until combined. Then add Frangelico, egg yolks, and ground hazenluts. Fold in the melted chocolate and then mix in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites to lighten up the mixture. After this, fold in the rest of the egg whites a third at a time with a very light hand. Try to keep the batter as light as possible.

Pour the batter into a prepared 9″ springform pan and bake for 40 minutes or until the cake begins to come away at the sides. Let cool in pan on a rack.

For the icing, combine the heavy cream, Frangelico, and chocolate in a heavy bottomed pan. Mix the ingredients over gentle heat just until the chocolate is melted. Take the pan off the heat and whisk until it reaches the proper consistency to ice the cake.

Unmold the cooled cake carefully. It is a moist cake so leaving it on the base is a good idea to avoid breaking it. Ice the top with chocolate icing and dot it thickly with the cooled, toasted hazelnuts.

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Here are some modification I made to the recipe:

  • Instead of baking it in a 9″ spring form pan to make a one layer cake, I baked the cake in 4″ springform pans to make a mini layer cake.
  • I cooled the icing and whipped it to make a whipped ganache frosting versus a shiny ganache like the one that is shown in the cookbook.
  • I did not top the cake with whole hazelnuts and instead, made an icing with which I piped the lettering.

Happily, the cake was as rich as I had expected it to be and as soon as Jason got home, we shared a slice and a tall glass of milk. Does it get any better than that? 🙂

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