Easy and elegant gluten-free hazelnut torte, with fresh whipped cream and chocolate ganache. Jump to the recipe, here, or read on and get the recipe at the bottom of this post.
One of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to host more dinner parties… and a couple of weeks ago, I held my first one. I cook for my friends quite a bit (as you may have gathered from the title of this blog), but this dinner definitely took things up a notch. A four course meal, with a French theme: Roasted Pear and Gorgonzola Salad, followed by French Onion Soup, Fish en Papillote, crusty french bread with herb butter…
It was as casual as a multi-course dinner like this could be, but still the most formal event I’ve ever put on. The food was decadent, no question about it, but the richest part by far was sitting down at the end of it (knowing all of the courses had made it to the table without incident, and that everyone’s bellies were full and happy), and getting to laugh, and drink wine, and catch up with people I don’t get to see anywhere near often enough. Oh, and eat cake.
Last, but by no means least, on our menu was this hazelnut torte, lavishly garnished with a generous dollop of fresh whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate ganache. This may have been my favorite part of the entire meal. The combination of light and rich, sweet and dark, creamy and crunchy… I’m pretty sure I went deaf when I took a bite, because all the conversation faded into the background and all I could think about was my next forkful.
All on its own, without the whipped cream and ganache, this cake is incredibly simple and unassuming — basically just hazelnuts, eggs, and sugar — but somehow those simple ingredients become so much more than that. It’s like a beautiful woman, who’s beautiful without even trying to be. You might think her plain at first, but you would be mistaken.
And of course, when she does get dressed up… well.
Typically, a torte is a layered dessert, but I prefer this cake in a single layer. I also prefer the word “torte” to “cake”, because it helps conjure just how decadent a treat this really is. (Don’t be deterred by the gluten-free title, either — I know some people think that means something inherent to flavor or texture is missing, but I promise, this cake lacks nothing.)
If you wish, you can layer the two cakes with whipped cream in between, or do as I do and serve them individually. Either way, you won’t be disappointed.
- 12 ounces (by weight, or about 2½ cups) hazelnuts, roasted and skinned, plus more for garnish*
- 2 tsp. Baking powder
- 6 large eggs, separated, plus 1 whole egg
- ½ cup + 2 TBSP granulated sugar, plus more for coating the pan
- 2 TBSP frangelico liqour (or other flavored liqour, such as amaratto or kahlua, or you can leave it out and use 1-2 tsp. Vanilla extract instead)
- 1 cup heavy cream, or double cream
- 1-2 TBSP granulated sugar, to taste
- 1 tsp. good quality pure vanilla extract
- 3 oz. (by weight, or about ½ cup) dark chocolate, chopped or in chip form
- ¾ cup heavy cream, or double cream
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease either two 9 inch pans, or one 9 inch springofrm pan, and add a couple TBSP of granulated sugar. Roll the pan(s) around, so that the sugar coats the bottom and sides evenly. Tap out any excess sugar.
- In a food processor, pulse together the hazelnuts and baking powder until the nuts are very finely ground. Do not over-blend them, or they'll turn into nut-butter. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the egg whites. Once they start to become frothy, gradually add the 2 TBSP granulated sugar, and continue mixing until they have reached medium-stiff peaks.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and whole egg with the remaining ½ cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the liquor (or vanilla extract) and ground hazelnut mixture, and stir until fully combined.
- Using a flexible rubber spatula, fold ⅓ of the eggwhites into the hazelnut and egg yolk mixture. Repeat until all of the eggwhites are incorporated, folding gently until there are no lumps or streaks of eggwhites remaining in the batter.
- Pour into the prepared pan(s), and place on the center rack of the preheated oven. Bake for about 30 minutes (if using two 9-inch pans) or for 50-60 minutes (if using one 9-inch springform pan), or until the edges of the cake start to pull away from the sides of the pan, and the center of the cake bounces back every so slightly when gently touched.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely. If using two cake pans, you can serve each cake individually, or stack them to create a layered dessert. If you made one 9-inch springform pan, you can cut the cake horizontally into two layers (or three thin layers) and fill with whipped cream.
- Cake can be made in advance, cooled, wrapped in plastic, and kept at room temperature for up to three days. Serve cake with whipped cream, chocolate ganache, and a handful of freshly chopped hazelnuts on top.
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, and whisk (or beat with a hand or stand mixer, or put in a jar and shake) until light and fluffy. Do not over-mix. (Make this right when you are ready to serve.)
- Place the chocolate in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until steaming (do not let it boil). Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and stir until completely smooth and shiny. Ganache can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to the expiration date of the cream. It will become thick like frosting once cooled, and can be rewarmed over low heat, or in ten-second increments in the microwave, until fluid again.
A torte is typically a layered dessert, but I prefer to serve this cake in a single layer. You can do as I do, or layer the cakes with whipped cream in between (just be sure to do this right before serving, so the whipped cream is fresh).
Recipe only slightly adapted from this Hungarian Hazelnut Torte from AllRecipes.com