I baked this because I really wanted to eat a chocolate cake. A pretty sound reason if you ask me. Light chocolate sponge topped off with layers of chocolate ganache with lots of hazelnuts throughout and sweet sticky hazelnuts on top. Mmmmmm. I shared it with people at work, so that I didn’t eat the whole thing. Because I could have. It went down pretty well if I do say so myself. It involved a slightly different to normal method of making a sponge, whisking egg whites until stiff (which always makes me sigh a little bit when I see that in a recipe), melting chocolate (but that’s always fun) and making ganache, but it is definitely worth it and this is what you’ll get…
Here’s what you’ll need and how to do it (including a few little tips)…
For the cake:
- 70g whole hazelnuts
- 175g dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
- 175g butter, diced
- 4 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 40g plain flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
For the ganache:
- 150ml cream
- 225g dark chocolate (at least 70%), chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- Recipe said 1 tbsp cognac, but I didn’t have any so used brandy instead
For the topping:
- 50g sugar
- 2 tbsp butter
- 100g roasted whole hazelnuts (I used pre-chopped ones)
How to bake it:
- Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F/Gas 6 and lightly grease the cake tin. The recipe said to use a 10″ cake tin, but I used an 8″ one (square shaped and loose bottomed… what a rebel).
- Lightly toast the 70g of whole hazelnuts in a frying pan (no oil needed) until you can smell them and set aside to cool. Grind them down until finely ground (I didn’t have a snazzy food processor so used ones of those things called a knife, and chopped them).
- To make the cake, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Remove the chocolate from the heat and stir in the butter.
- Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla together until the mixture is very creamy. I used a hand-held electric whisk.
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they are stiff (egg whites are the divas of the baking world and will need to be mixed in a glass or stainless steel bowl not a plastic one. Never a plastic one for egg whites). Again, the electric whisk was handy here.
- Mix together the flour, salt, hazelnuts you have just roasted and the baking powder.
- Fold the melted chocolate into the egg yolk mixture, then add the flour mixture and beaten egg whites, and carefully fold them in.
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean). Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin.
- For the ganache, put the cream into a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Boil it for one minute then remove it from the heat.
- Add the chopped chocolate and stir until it has melted. Stir in the butter and cognac/brandy and leave it to cool and thicken. Whisk the ganache lightly.
- Once the cake is cool take it out of the tin and spread the ganache all over the top and the sides. (I improvised with my own cake decorating turntable – although it didn’t turn – and kept the cake on the bottom of the cake tin, having removed the sides of the tin, and balanced it on a largeish plastic container so that it was raised, which made it easier to spread the ganache around it. You’ll need to taste the ganache throughout this process, just to make sure it’s okay of course.)
- For the topping, put the sugar in a pan and melt it over a low heat, without stirring. Add the butter and stir until it is a light brown colour. Add the hazelnuts, stir briefly and scatter all over the top of the cake. Leave to cool completely.
- EAT IT! With cream or ice-cream for extra yumminess.
(recipe courtesy of Cake Decorating, issue number 25)