Chocolate Hazelnut Cake (Torta alla Gianduia)

Flourless chocolate hazelnut cake – this Italian cake originates in Piedmont, a region in North-Western Italy known for its hazelnuts. This gluten-free cake is a chocolate lovers dream dessert

Christmas is now less than two weeks away and if you’re anything like me and want to be organised regarding food this cake will be perfect for an alternative pudding this Christmas Day.

As much as Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, I’m not the greatest fan of traditional Christmas food. I don’t have the typical Christmas roast dinner as I’m vegetarian and because I’ve never enjoyed mince pies, Christmas cake or pudding that means Christmas Day dessert is usually a creation involving chocolate in some form or another.

Some years we have a yule log, however this year we fancied a change and decided on this classic Piedmontese cake, Torta alla Gianduia.

This torte is simply divine and it has an incredible soft, truffle cake texture that’s simply too hard to resist.

Because this cake is flourless that means it’s suitable for anyone following a gluten-free diet. I was a bit skeptical making this cake, it was one of the first times I’d baked a flourless cake but I was extremely happy with how it turned out! My sister who usually dislikes gluten-free bakes even said this was the only gluten-free cake she has ever liked.

The texture is mousse-like and beautifully light and fluffy – it really does melt-in-your-mouth. You’ll have the urge to eat slice after slice of this cake just like I did!

You know this cake is good because it rivals my favourite chocolate fudge cake. I used Nigella Lawson’s recipe from How To Be A Domestic Goddess, but I used the dark chocolate ganache recipe from SWEET by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. The ganache is rich, glossy, silky and has all the qualities a good chocolate ganache should have.

This cake is made differently to the usual cake recipes I make and I love that I’ve discovered a brilliant gluten-free chocolate dessert. I know this cake will most definitely be appearing on our table on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, but I also know it’ll be a year-round favourite for parties and other celebrations.

Serve this showstopper cake with pouring/whipped cream or ice cream. I always serve chocolate bakes with fresh raspberries, but you can also eat it with different berries on the side. If you want you can garnish the top of the cake with extra hazelnuts, chopped or whole.

Torta alla Gianduia is a big hit with my taste testers and I’m sure it will be with yours too! If you adore the combination of chocolate and hazelnuts, then this is the cake recipe for you.

(Serves 10-12)

Ingredients:

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake:

6 large free-range eggs (whites and yolks separated), at room temperature

Small pinch of salt

125g butter (salted or unsalted)

400g chocolate hazelnut spread

1 tablespoon frangelico, rum or water

100g ground hazelnuts (can be substituted with ground almonds)

100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Dark Chocolate Ganache:

200g dark chocolate, chopped into 2cm pieces

200ml double cream

1 tablespoon golden syrup

1 tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted)

Method:

  1. To make the cake: Preheat oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / 350°F / Gas Mark 4. Line a 23cm / 9-inch springform cake tin with parchment paper and grease well with extra butter. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites and a pinch of salt until stiff but not dry. In another bowl, beat together the softened butter, chocolate hazelnut spread and the frangelico, rum or water (just a tablespoon of whatever one you’re using) – I used water for a non alcoholic version.
  3. Now mix in the ground hazelnuts and the egg yolks. Fold in the melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with a large dollop of egg white – at this point you can beat the mixture as vigorously as you like. Gently fold in the remaining egg white a third at a time, continuing to fold until no egg white is visible in the cake mixture.
  4. Carefully transport the cake mixture into the cake tin, bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is beginning to come away from the sides and a cake tester when inserted into the centre of the cake comes out completely clean without any uncooked batter attached. Leave the cake to cool in the tin completely.
  5. To make the ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. Heat the cream and golden syrup in a small saucepan until bubbles just begin to appear on the surface and just before it starts to come up to the boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until mostly melted. Now add the butter and continue to stir until smooth. Directly place a piece of clingfilm on the top of the ganache and leave it at room temperature for about two hours until spreadable.
  6. Decorate the cake by covering the top and sides with the ganache. Decorate the cake with chopped, toasted hazelnuts and serve. Keep the cake stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Enjoy!

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