I’ve known my husband and his family for 30+ years and in all those decades there is a story about a cake that has been the heart of my career goals. Just to be clear, this is not the cake. This chocolate hazelnut cake is AWESOME and I’m very pleased with it, but it’s not the cake my husband wistfully remembers from his childhood. Today is my husband’s birthday and I had hoped to finally create his favorite cake for him, but he’s getting this one instead. I have never had the mythical cake, which is my excuse for not being able to recreate it. The joke in my house is that the day I am able to bake that one (hazelnut sponge with whipped cream and canned peaches) I can retire. So, maybe there is part of me that just isn’t ready to nail it.
Okay, let’s talk about this chocolate hazelnut cake. It was inspired by the aforementioned favorite of my husband and a flourless chocolate cake in the book, bake from scratch, by Brian Hart Hoffman. For those of you not familiar with this book or Brian, he is the talent behind @TheBakeFeed on Instagram. You should be following them and me for that matter! You can find my feed at @zoebakes where you can keep up with what I am working on every day and watch my video stories, which is my newest playground.
This is like the most elegant brownie-cake you’ve ever had. That really doesn’t do it justice, but you know that fudge texture of a perfectly baked brownie, where the top has a nice crust and the inside is smooth and rich. This is that, but even better and somehow lighter. I gilded the lily with the candied hazelnuts, because it is my favorite man’s birthday and he deserves to have all the fancy bits.
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake inspired by Bake from Scratch
3 ounces (85g) hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed, more for garnish
12 ounces (340g) bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) (170g) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
6 extra large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cocoa powder for pan and dusting the top
To make the cake:
Butter and line a 9-inch springform pan with buttered parchment
Preheat oven to 325°F
Pulverize the hazelnuts and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor until very fine.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter until smooth, allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
In a stand mixer, fitted with the whip, beat the eggs, remaining sugar, vanilla and salt, until very thick and light in color, about 6-8 minutes.
Slowly add the cooled chocolate to the egg mixture.
Fold in the hazelnuts and quickly pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes or until the top is crusty and the interior produces moist crumbs.
Allow to cool in pan until room temperature.
Once the cake is cool and cut the top with shatter and that is exactly what we’re going for. The top is crisp which is a beautiful contrast to the silky interior.