I’ve never been big into sugary spreads slathered in between my sandwiches. In my personal opinion, jam tastes better with scones, honey better in porridge, peanut butter in muffins, and Nutella as a sneaky molten gooey centre in cakes.
The Sister’s mother-in-law to be was down in Sydney last weekend, and they had invited me over for dinner on Sunday. As a good guest must do, I decided to take over dessert, and decided I’d show off a little by making my own. I had been flipping through my cookbooks trying to get some inspiration, when I stumbled upon this Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake with Nutella Frosting in Bill Granger’s Bill’s Italian Food.
This is a rather time-consuming cake, as the cake has no flour but is made purely from ground roasted hazelnuts. I wasn’t sure if I could just buy hazelnut meal and just toast it off, so I decided to roast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan over low heat and rub off the papery skins (which always remind me of crunchy autumn leaves) with a clean tea towel before crushing them finely with a mortar and pestle. Considering this recipe called for three cups of roasted hazelnuts (two ground, one just roasted and peeled), it took a good hour or so. However it was a quiet Sunday morning for me, and I found the process quite therapeutic as baking is for me. If you don’t find baking relaxing and enjoyable, I’d recommend you try toasting hazelnut meal, or just buy a cake to save you the trouble…
You will need:
- 185g dark chocolate (preferably 70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped;
- 5 eggs, separated;
- 220g (1 cup) caster sugar;
- 280g (2 cups) roasted hazelnuts, very finely ground and 140g (1 cup) roasted and peeled;
- 180g (1 cup) Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread;
- 250g (1 cup) mascarpone cheese.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Lightly grease a 25cm springform cake tin and line with baking paper. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool.
Beat the egg yolks and half of the sugar until pale and frothy.
Fold into a bowl with the melted chocolate and ground hazelnuts.
The mixture will become quite stiff and dry, like a paste, but don’t worry about it as you will loosen it with the meringue later.
In a clean, dry bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Gradually add the other half of the caster sugar until very firm and glossy.
Stir a quarter of the whisked egg white into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, and then gently fold in the remainder. Ensure you use a folding motion rather than beating it in like with a regular cake; you want to maintain as much aeration as you can.
Tip into the prepared tin and bake for one hour, covering the cake loosely with foil if the top starts to brown too quickly.
Cool on a cake rack and remove the springform sides. The recipe says to turn it out onto a plate, but I found the top of the cake too delicate for me to tip upside down and wasn’t going to risk it. Luckily I didn’t, because once the cake cooled, the fragile top caved in:
There was a gap of air between the cake innards and the top of the cake due to me beating so much air into it, but I wasn’t too concerned with the earthquake effect on my cake, as I knew I’d be slathering over it a deliciously rich Nutella frosting…
To make this, it’s as simple as whisking together the Nutella and mascarpone until well-combined. Easy, huh?
Spread over the cake and scatter with the roasted and peeled whole hazelnuts before serving. If you had some difficulty in getting all of the skins off your hazelnuts, you can sneakily position the nuts one by one so the sides with the skins are facing down. No one will notice anyway, too distracted with how orgasmic this cake tastes. Sneaky sneaky.
Probably one of the easiest cakes I have ever made, although the prepping of hazelnuts does take a fair chunk out of your day. The rewards you reap are more than worth it though. Every person that tasted this baby raved and ranted on about it. I had one girlfriend ask me if it was “Ferrero cake”, as with the hand-ground roast hazelnuts, the texture was still quite deliciously crunchy.
Enjoy….very much in moderation 😉
And if you love baking as much as I do…you know you will do the right thing by checking out the Cake, Bake & Sweets Show coming to Sydney for the first time next weekend! A foodie’s paradise event packed full of celebrity demos, competitions, classes and interactive workshops, all at Sydney Showground, Olympic Park from March 21-23. Shop for fondant cutters, get your books signed by the pastry-king himself Andriano Zumbo, ex-Masterchef contestants including Kylie Millar and Julia Taylor, or if The Great Australian Bake-Off was more your thing, 2013 winner Nancy Ho will be there too.
There are FREE classroom demos, or if you’re more looking for some intensive skills, there are hands-on cake decorating workshops as well. Check out the full list of what’s happening over the course of the event here.
You can buy your tickets here, and you might even spot me among the crowd, snapping away on my camera 😉
If you would like to win two tickets to the event, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your full name to enter into a draw. The competition will close at 5.00pm Thursday 13 March 2014 and the winner announced on Friday morning’s review post.
Enjoy your week, lovelies! xx