I am very taken these days with this sort of torte that is traditionally made with almond or hazelnut flour (Torta de Naranja for example). They save me the trouble of having to adapt them to be gluten-free and they are so00000 very fancy! This cake has an intense, pure hazelnut flavour that I absolutely adore.
The recipe that I started with made way too much cake, even for a party of 10 people. I ended up with three cakes (8, 9 and 10 inches), two of which I layered and iced with chocolate coffee buttercream and served after Easter dinner. My husband and I devoured the third layer without icing for tea on Monday. Eating the extra cake was no hardship, but I have reduced the recipe here, because I found that I could barely fit the batter in my largest mixing bowls!
Also, the buttercream icing was the last thing that I made at the end of a long two days of cooking in preparation for the Easter meal. By that point, I was getting tired and I found myself unable to face the double boiler rigmarole that the recipe I was using suggested. So, I used a simpler buttercream recipe from a totally different cookbook. This recipe also included chocolate which turned out to be very, very good with the hazelnut cake.
HAZELNUT TORTE WITH CHOCOLATE COFFEE BUTTERCREAM
For the cake…
- 2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 cups hazelnuts
- 8 large eggs separated and brought to room temperature
- 1 and 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- pinch of salt
For the icing and topping…
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 egg yolks 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 1/4 cup ground hazelnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread the 3 cups of hazelnuts out on a baking sheet and toast them in the hot oven for 12-15 minutes. Allow the hazelnuts to cool a bit, then rub them vigorously between your hands. The skins will mostly fall off. Grind the toasted hazelnuts into a fine flour.
- Butter two 9 inch springform pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the paper as well and dust everything with some flour (I used rice flour). You can also use 8 or 10 inch pans if that is what you have. If you don’t have two the same size you can disguise that later with icing!
- Process the ground hazelnuts and cocoa powder in a food processor until they are totally combined.
- In a large, clean bowl beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer on high-speed for 3 to 4 minutes. This may seem like a long time, but if you keep at it the egg yolks transform into a thick pale yellow mixture! At that point, gradually beat in the sugar. Once all of the sugar is in beat it for another 4 or 5 minutes. It will be very thick and again it will seem like a long time, but when the sugar breaks down it the consistency will transform again and you will see smooth ripples forming.
- In a separate large clean bowl, using a clean whisk or electric mixer, beat the egg whites until they are stiff but not dry.
- Fold half of the cocoa hazelnut mixture into the egg yolk sugar mixture. Stir until just combined.
- Gently fold one third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten the batter.
- Gently fold in the other half of the cocoa hazelnut mixture followed by the remaining egg whites. Try not to over mix the batter as it will make the egg whites fall.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 40-45 minutes in the middle of your oven. You will know that the cakes are done when they pull away from the sides of the pan and the centers spring back when lightly touched. Allow the cakes to cool for 15 minutes before releasing them from their pans. If they tear a bit you can hide it later with icing!
- While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the buttercream. Heat the chocolate, water and espresso powder in a small sauce pan over low heat, until the chocolate melts. Set the mixture aside to cool.
- Beat the butter until it is light and fluffy. Beat the egg yolks into the butter one at a time. Beat the cooled chocolate mixture into the butter and yolks, followed by the confectioners sugar. Refrigerate the icing so that it will be thick enough to spread when the cakes are cool.
- When the cakes have cooled, place one of them on a serving platter and ice it lavishly with the buttercream. Stack the second layer of cake on top of that and ice the whole thing with a thick layer of buttercream. Sprinkle ground hazelnuts on the top and sides of the cake. The cake can be refrigerated if you make it in advance, just bring it to room temperature for 15 minutes before serving.