It might be day twenty of my advent posts but it is also the twentieth of the month which means it is time for the Cake Slice Bakers reveal. The four choices from Roger Pizey's World Class Cakes were a bit mixed this month. There was a coffee and walnut cake which the book says "every family has a recipe for this classic cake"... And I do, so not much of a challenge there.
There was a classic Gingerbread, again something for which I already have a fail safe recipe, admittedly without that very fancy iced doily effect but really, who has time for anything that fiddly in December?
The Carribean Coconut cake did sound rather nice but more of a summer cake in my opinion.
So that left a rather splendid Torta Gianduja... a flourless chocolate and hazelnut cake from Piedmont in Italy.
As I had to bring the dessert for our book club meeting this sounded perfect, which was lucky really. Mostly it was straightforward to make, easy to cook and once baked it was extremely easy to handle... it turned out of the tin easily and sliced like a dream. The only part of the recipe that didn't really work was mixing the cocoa powder with the water. It was meant to create a batter... mine was a very thick lumpy mess which I would never describe as a batter, despite adding extra water. I had to beat it into the melted chocolate to make a smooth mixture, but it was just a slight hiccup. .
Because the resulting cake was wonderful! It was rich and chocolately with a fudge like texture
I decorated mine with caramel dipped hazelnuts... each hazelnut was speared onto a cocktail stick before dipping into caramel, made by heating 100g caster sugar with a tablespoon of water, and then hardened by suspending from my unique device pictured below!
As there was caramel left over I stirred some more hazelnuts into it and poured the mixture onto baking parchment to harden. I then whizzed the mixture in the food processor to make a praline which I sprinkled on the top of the cake, although you could just use more ground hazelnuts to decorate.
I stirred a couple of spoonfuls of the hazelnut praline plus a tablespoon of Amaretto into some whipped cream to serve with the cake. I think the hazelnut cream was almost as popular as the cake... in fact I spotted one person just eating spoonfuls of the cream!
It was certainly a very popular book club dessert... and so good I made it again for my other book club's Christmas party!
Should you want to try it yourself ,it is definitely worth the effort, so this is my version:
You will need an 9" springform pan, greased and lined. Preheat the oven to 155 deg C (135 fan), 310 deg F
- 185g dark chocolate (70% cocoa)
- 165g soft unsalted butter
- 70g cocoa powder
- 60 - 100 ml hot water
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon Amaretto
- 300g soft brown sugar
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 265g ground hazelnuts
- pinch of salt
- Melt the chocolate with the butter in a heavy based pan over a very low heat (or if you prefer, in a bowl over a pan of simmering water)
- Mix the hot water with the cocoa pwder until you have a smooth batter (or a lump... see above) then add the vanilla and Amaretto
- Mix the cocoa batter into the chocolate mixture to form a smooth mixture (this required some heavy duty whisking to get it smooth)
- In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick. Stir into the chocolate mixture.
- Fold the ground hazelnuts into the mixture.
- In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until you have soft peaks but take care not to over whisk. Fold these into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes, until the edges are firm. It will still be slightly soft in the centre.
- Cool completely in the tin before turning out and then decorate the top with a sprinkling of icing sugar and some more ground hazelnuts or praline or caramel nuts... or any combination you feel like.
- Serve with hazelnut cream (see above) or just plain whipped cream.