This Hazelnut flourless chocolate cake is rich and chocolatey with a little nuttiness from the hazelnuts and just a hint of brightness from lemon zest! A silky ganache on top makes it truly decadent.
Now this is the first cake in what I am calling my Chocolate Birthday Week. If I have to have my 23rd birthday during Quarantine, then it is going to be filled with CHOCOLATE!
Haha! Ok you caught me. I was born in the early 80’s and that is all I’m going to say on my age. Long live neon, leg warmers, and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing! ?
This cake is also known as torta caprese, which is traditionally made with almond flour, but I love the swap for hazelnuts here. It gives it another dimension because the hazelnuts stand up to the chocolate and fight for their moment in the spotlight.
I developed this hazelnut flourless chocolate cake for Chef Marc Forgione’s latest restaurant adventure: Peasant. Though there I serve it warm from the wood-burning oven and topped with fior di latte gelato and a fountain of Frangelico chocolate sauce.
While I was researching and testing for Peasant and another NYC Italian restaurant that never opened, I did a deep dive into Italian desserts and discovered several things.
One is that the Italians LOVE their separated egg foam cakes. If a cake or cookie can be leavened by eggs they are going to do it. Bonus points if there is an opportunity to beat both the whites and the yolks separately.
Millions of bowls, spatulas, whisks, and beads of sweat later, I bring you the fruits of my labor.
Hazelnut Flourless Chocolate Cake
For the Cake:
- 140 g Butter
- 140 g Dark Chocolate
- 2 g Salt
- 12 g Cocoa powder
- 60 g Egg yolks
- 165 g Sugar (divided)
- 1 ea Lemon zested
- 140 g Hazelnut flour
- 12 g Vanilla extract
- 90 g Egg whites
For the Ganache:
- 105 g Dark Chocolate
- 20 g Light corn syrup
- ½ t Salt
- 105 g Cream
- 10 g Frangelico (You can use Bourbon or vanilla extract to taste instead)
For the cake:
- Preheat oven to 325°F
- Line 10” cake pan with parchment, spray with nonstick spray and coat with cornstarch. Tap out excess cornstarch.
- Melt chocolate, butter, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl placed over a simmering pot of water and stir occasionally until melted. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Cool slightly.
- Zest the lemon into approximately half the sugar.
- Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Be careful not to overwhip. Remove from the bowl and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer whip the yolks and the sugar with with zest until considerably lightened and tripled in volume. With the mixer running, pour in the chocolate mixture in a steady stream and beat until combined. Add the zest and extract and beat until combined.
- Fold in the egg whites and pour into prepared pan.
- Bake 325°F for 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
- Cool in pan before unmolding. I like to refrigerate it just for extra insurance.
- Unmold by running a small offset spatula around the edges and then turning it over on a cutting board. I just hit the whole thing really hard and it falls out. Remove the parchment from the bottom and then place on desired plate or cake stand.
- Dust with 10 or cover in Frangelico ganache
For the Ganache:
- Combine chocolate, corn syrup and salt in a bowl.
- Heat cream to a boil and pour over chocolate. Allow to sit for 2 minutes before whisking to emulsify. Whisk in Frangelico.
- Pour over cake and refrigerate to set.
You can use any pan between a 8 inch and a 10 inch. It will just change the thickness and baking time slightly. In the photos I used an 8 inch because that is all I have.
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