8 Mar 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut torte

I am in love with hazelnuts. I think its because they taste so nutty when toasted, quite unlike other nuts. When foodie got me a big box of these nuts, I spent months looking for the perfect recipe where the flavor of hazelnuts stands out. This torte seemed perfect – a moist sinful chocolate cake with whole caramelized hazelnuts on top. The chocolate cake is dense yet light and the hazelnuts are beautifully caramelized and crunchy. Goodness in every bite!

Having never made a torte before and being a complete novice at using eggs in baking (being a vegetarian and doing only eggless baking for the greater part of my life) I was a little bit intimidated with this recipe. A torte is like a cake but is based on nuts and eggs rather than flour. This means that you have to melt the chocolate and butter together and then add in the eggs (rather like a brownie). However, the catch is that the eggs need to be separated and the egg whites whipped. My main challenge has always been separating the whites without getting any of the yolk in it (c’mon I have not had any practice whatsoever in the last 23 years!). If you do happen to get some yolk in, the whites just won’t become stiff. Also, it’s good to add a pinch of salt just to help it stiffen up a little bit. Once soft peaks are formed, add in sugar little by little and keep beating until you are able to do the “standing on your head test.” Tilt the bowl completely (180 degree turn) over your head and the beaten whites should not move! 

Also, one good idea while grounding nuts is to toss in a tablespoon of flour along with one cup of nuts. This keeps them fluffy.
Once the chocolate is melted and the egg whites have been beaten with the sugar all you need to do is mix the yolk and sugar together. Then fold in the chocolate and butter into the egg yolks and then fold in the stiff egg whites. I even added some ground nuts to this mix. After this, all you need to do is bake until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
I made this cake even more decadent by simply melting some chocolate and pouring it over the cake before adding the caramelized hazelnuts.

Next time, I would like to do this differently:
1)        I would add more toasted ground or chopped hazelnuts to the cake batter.
2)     For the topping, I would chop the hazelnuts in half as some people do not like the heady taste of whole nuts.
3)     Instead of making a sugar syrup, I would caramelize some sugar using just a splash of water (instead of the amount I used this time) so that it turns completely brown. Then I would toss the hazelnuts in it and allow them to cool and become praline like. I would use this to top the torte.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte
Adapted from Femina magazine
Total time: 1 hour 20 mins
Serves 4 – 6 depending on your serving size


For the torte:
85 gms dark chocolate
85 gms butter
1 tbsp flour
A pinch of salt
2 eggs, separated
75 gms castor sugar (you can use powdered sugar as well)
½ tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp ground hazelnuts (I would add more next time)

For the topping:
100 gms sugar
50 ml water
100 gms hazelnuts

1)      Preheat the oven to 180 C and grease and dust a 6 inch cake tin.
2)      Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler and set aside.
3)      Sift the flour. Toss with the ground nuts and keep aside.
4)      Beat the egg yolks with half the sugar. Add the vanilla essence and whisk it mixture.
5)      In another bowl, beat the egg whites (adding a pinch of salt) until soft peaks start to form. Gradually add the remaining sugar, beating all the while until stiff.
6)      Fold the chocolate and butter into the egg yolks along with the flour and nut mixture. Then fold in the egg whites.
7)      Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for 30 mins or until the cake springs from the sides of the pan and a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
8)      Remove from the oven. Demould when cool.
9)      Melt some chocolate (approx. 50 gms) and spread it over the torte.
10 )For the topping, dissolve the sugar in water over low heat, stirring continuously. When its golden brown, remove from flame, toss hazelnuts and spread over the torte. 

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