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099

My ideal cake is this one: you throw everything in. Perhaps throw is the wrong word – lob? – and there are no fiddly processes, except for rubbing off the hazelnut skins with a tea towel (and this is more sweaty and irritating than fiddly) and hazelnuts and chocolate are really very good together, so it’s worth it.

This is an autumn cake – damp and soulful and lovely with a few late mulberries or some cooked and treacly damsons, as small as olives now. This might also be the time to get out some prunes and soak them in Armagnac (you could lob some into the cake itself). Nuts instead of flour here, which makes it gluten-free. I made the mistake the first time round of putting two tablespoons of spelt in, which was unnecessary and also catastrophic. The 2 tbs were my undoing. I made it for a party and no one would touch it. It was as if I’d announced that there was cat food in it. Instead of flour I now add cocoa powder, and everyone can breathe a sigh of relief. Except of course there’s sugar and butter and nuts and chocolate.

098

“Do you do anything gluten-free?” the lady asked. She was the carer for a much older lady who she’d just seated with difficulty at a nearby table. Rain drummed on the windows, a military tattoo in varying rhythms. I was sitting right by the till; it was a lovely cafe, full of rare teas and little glass milk bottles, and slightly ironic tea cosies. My head was next to the tips jar. My head was ‘tips jar adjacent’ as they say, and I could have lain it down directly on the counter and had a nap were it not for the pneumatic espresso machine and screaming milk being banged out on to waiting coffees nearby. When did milk become so loud?

The waitress had to shout above the roar of the foam, “Plum and polenta!” She pointed to some sandy mounds under a glass dome. The lady looked at them blankly and then back at the waitress. “You don’t do anything like a baked potato?” There was a moment between them where they both seemed at a loss. “Coq au Vin?” the waitress said eventually. “Is that gluten-free?” “Yes.”

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It struck me that the term ‘gluten-free’ had got in the way of this exchange. As if this was what you had to say these days, in these sorts of places. I don’t know why this made me feel sad. I felt sorry for the baked potato. And I’m not sure I want to live in a gluten-free world. I love flourless cakes – cakes made with nuts, for example – because their flourlessness is often germane to the cake’s identity; they were born flourless. But a baked potato isn’t any more gluten-free than my trousers. It was a baked potato first. This is a cake first (or torte…). Enjoy it. I hope there will always be a place for it in our post gluten world.

Chocolate and hazelnut torte

Adapted from and inspired by Emma Gardner’s beautiful blog, Poires au Chocolat

This cake is rather drum-like in appearance, and has less of the fallen soufflé effect common in the flourless. However, its surface does eventually crack reassuringly. I have no idea how the cold-eggs-straight-from-the-fridge idea works, but the proof is in the eating. Keep the cake wrapped in greaseproof paper for up to three days, if you can, to let the flavours develop and deepen. It gets better.

75g whole hazelnuts

2 tbs cocoa powder

170g good dark chocolate (60 – 70% cocoa solids) broken into chunks

140g unsalted butter, slightly softened

150g light brown sugar

Big pinch of fine sea salt

4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin and line with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground. – See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.3zwFHVRy.dpuf Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until nuts are brown and fragrant and the skins are starting to peel away from the nuts. Remove from oven and place the nuts in a clean dish towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts ‘steam’ for about five minutes and then rub the nuts to remove the skins. Let cool.

Put the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the nuts are brown and fragrant and the skins are starting to peel away. Keep an eye on them – they burn easily. Remove from the oven and put the nuts in a clean tea towel. Roll up the towel and let the nuts ‘steam’ for about five minutes and then rub the nuts to remove the skins. Think of someone you hate. Let them cool.

To make the ground hazelnuts: once the hazelnuts have completely cooled, throw them in a food processor, along with the cocoa, and process until they are finely ground. Alternatively, put them in a coffee grinder and do them in batches.

Put a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Add the chocolate pieces and let them melt without stirring. When they look as though they’re almost there, take the bowl off the heat, stir, and add the hopefully rather soft butter, the sugar and salt. Whisk until it’s all of uniform smoothness. It will have lightened a little.

Add the first egg, beat until incorporated, then add the next, and keep going until all four eggs are in and then add the vanilla extract. Whip the mixture on high for 1-2 minutes until it’s stiff and becoming paler. Add the ground hazelnuts and cocoa powder and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Bake for 28-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake brings out a few sticky crumbs.

Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. It will rise and then fall gradually, leaving a higher rim of cake around the sides and there will also be some cracking. Wrap in foil or greaseproof paper for up to three days before eating. The flavours become more wickedly intense with time.

70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of smoked sea salt flakesPreheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground.Place a mixer bowl (or another bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pan of barely simmering water. Chop the chocolate up and tip into the bowl. Stir occasionally as it melts. Meanwhile weigh out the brown sugar and salt and cut the butter into cubes – it should be starting to soften, not squishy. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and stir until it’s smooth. Place on the mixer (with the whisk attached) and add the sugar, salt and butter. Whisk on medium until the ingredients have fully combined and the mixture has lightened a little. Scrape the sides down then add the first egg. Whip until combined, then add the next egg. Repeat until they’re all combined then add the vanilla and whip for 1-2 minutes on high until stiff and pale.Add the ground hazelnuts and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt over the top. Bake for 28-35 minutes – a tester should still bring up a few sticky crumbs. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool fully in the tin. Wrap in kitchen foil and leave for at least one day and up to three before serving. Lovely with a big spoonful of whipped cream or crème fraîche.
– See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.nKxGe4qV.dpuf
70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract – See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.nKxGe4qV.dpuf
70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract – See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.nKxGe4qV.dpuf
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Smoked Salt
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of smoked sea salt flakesPreheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground.Place a mixer bowl (or another bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pan of barely simmering water. Chop the chocolate up and tip into the bowl. Stir occasionally as it melts. Meanwhile weigh out the brown sugar and salt and cut the butter into cubes – it should be starting to soften, not squishy. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and stir until it’s smooth. Place on the mixer (with the whisk attached) and add the sugar, salt and butter. Whisk on medium until the ingredients have fully combined and the mixture has lightened a little. Scrape the sides down then add the first egg. Whip until combined, then add the next egg. Repeat until they’re all combined then add the vanilla and whip for 1-2 minutes on high until stiff and pale.Add the ground hazelnuts and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt over the top. Bake for 28-35 minutes – a tester should still bring up a few sticky crumbs. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool fully in the tin. Wrap in kitchen foil and leave for at least one day and up to three before serving. Lovely with a big spoonful of whipped cream or crème fraîche.(Serves 10-12) – See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.nKxGe4qV.dpuf
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Smoked Salt
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of smoked sea salt flakesPreheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground.Place a mixer bowl (or another bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pan of barely simmering water. Chop the chocolate up and tip into the bowl. Stir occasionally as it melts. Meanwhile weigh out the brown sugar and salt and cut the butter into cubes – it should be starting to soften, not squishy. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and stir until it’s smooth. Place on the mixer (with the whisk attached) and add the sugar, salt and butter. Whisk on medium until the ingredients have fully combined and the mixture has lightened a little. Scrape the sides down then add the first egg. Whip until combined, then add the next egg. Repeat until they’re all combined then add the vanilla and whip for 1-2 minutes on high until stiff and pale.Add the ground hazelnuts and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt over the top. Bake for 28-35 minutes – a tester should still bring up a few sticky crumbs. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool fully in the tin. Wrap in kitchen foil and leave for at least one day and up to three before serving. Lovely with a big spoonful of whipped cream or crème fraîche.(Serves 10-12) – See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.nKxGe4qV.dpuf

Some other flourless cakes in my repertoire

Lemon and almond cake

Bitter chocolate olive oil cake

Chocolate marmalade slump cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Smoked Salt
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of smoked sea salt flakesPreheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground.Place a mixer bowl (or another bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pan of barely simmering water. Chop the chocolate up and tip into the bowl. Stir occasionally as it melts. Meanwhile weigh out the brown sugar and salt and cut the butter into cubes – it should be starting to soften, not squishy. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and stir until it’s smooth. Place on the mixer (with the whisk attached) and add the sugar, salt and butter. Whisk on medium until the ingredients have fully combined and the mixture has lightened a little. Scrape the sides down then add the first egg. Whip until combined, then add the next egg. Repeat until they’re all combined then add the vanilla and whip for 1-2 minutes on high until stiff and pale.Add the ground hazelnuts and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt over the top. Bake for 28-35 minutes – a tester should still bring up a few sticky crumbs. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool fully in the tin. Wrap in kitchen foil and leave for at least one day and up to three before serving. Lovely with a big spoonful of whipped cream or crème fraîche.(Serves 10-12) – See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.CDp8X22X.dpuf
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Smoked Salt
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of smoked sea salt flakesPreheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground.Place a mixer bowl (or another bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pan of barely simmering water. Chop the chocolate up and tip into the bowl. Stir occasionally as it melts. Meanwhile weigh out the brown sugar and salt and cut the butter into cubes – it should be starting to soften, not squishy. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and stir until it’s smooth. Place on the mixer (with the whisk attached) and add the sugar, salt and butter. Whisk on medium until the ingredients have fully combined and the mixture has lightened a little. Scrape the sides down then add the first egg. Whip until combined, then add the next egg. Repeat until they’re all combined then add the vanilla and whip for 1-2 minutes on high until stiff and pale.Add the ground hazelnuts and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt over the top. Bake for 28-35 minutes – a tester should still bring up a few sticky crumbs. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool fully in the tin. Wrap in kitchen foil and leave for at least one day and up to three before serving. Lovely with a big spoonful of whipped cream or crème fraîche.(Serves 10-12)
– See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.CDp8X22X.dpuf
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Smoked Salt
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of smoked sea salt flakesPreheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground.Place a mixer bowl (or another bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pan of barely simmering water. Chop the chocolate up and tip into the bowl. Stir occasionally as it melts. Meanwhile weigh out the brown sugar and salt and cut the butter into cubes – it should be starting to soften, not squishy. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and stir until it’s smooth. Place on the mixer (with the whisk attached) and add the sugar, salt and butter. Whisk on medium until the ingredients have fully combined and the mixture has lightened a little. Scrape the sides down then add the first egg. Whip until combined, then add the next egg. Repeat until they’re all combined then add the vanilla and whip for 1-2 minutes on high until stiff and pale.Add the ground hazelnuts and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt over the top. Bake for 28-35 minutes – a tester should still bring up a few sticky crumbs. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool fully in the tin. Wrap in kitchen foil and leave for at least one day and up to three before serving. Lovely with a big spoonful of whipped cream or crème fraîche.(Serves 10-12)
– See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.CDp8X22X.dpuf
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Smoked Salt
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of smoked sea salt flakesPreheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground.Place a mixer bowl (or another bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pan of barely simmering water. Chop the chocolate up and tip into the bowl. Stir occasionally as it melts. Meanwhile weigh out the brown sugar and salt and cut the butter into cubes – it should be starting to soften, not squishy. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and stir until it’s smooth. Place on the mixer (with the whisk attached) and add the sugar, salt and butter. Whisk on medium until the ingredients have fully combined and the mixture has lightened a little. Scrape the sides down then add the first egg. Whip until combined, then add the next egg. Repeat until they’re all combined then add the vanilla and whip for 1-2 minutes on high until stiff and pale.Add the ground hazelnuts and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt over the top. Bake for 28-35 minutes – a tester should still bring up a few sticky crumbs. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool fully in the tin. Wrap in kitchen foil and leave for at least one day and up to three before serving. Lovely with a big spoonful of whipped cream or crème fraîche.(Serves 10-12)
– See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.CDp8X22X.dpuf
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Smoked Salt
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of smoked sea salt flakesPreheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground.Place a mixer bowl (or another bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pan of barely simmering water. Chop the chocolate up and tip into the bowl. Stir occasionally as it melts. Meanwhile weigh out the brown sugar and salt and cut the butter into cubes – it should be starting to soften, not squishy. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and stir until it’s smooth. Place on the mixer (with the whisk attached) and add the sugar, salt and butter. Whisk on medium until the ingredients have fully combined and the mixture has lightened a little. Scrape the sides down then add the first egg. Whip until combined, then add the next egg. Repeat until they’re all combined then add the vanilla and whip for 1-2 minutes on high until stiff and pale.Add the ground hazelnuts and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt over the top. Bake for 28-35 minutes – a tester should still bring up a few sticky crumbs. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool fully in the tin. Wrap in kitchen foil and leave for at least one day and up to three before serving. Lovely with a big spoonful of whipped cream or crème fraîche.(Serves 10-12)
– See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.CDp8X22X.dpuf
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Smoked Salt
(adapted from Alice Medrich’s Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)70g whole hazelnuts
30g plain flour
170g dark chocolate (I used 85%)
140g unsalted butter, slightly softened
150g light brown sugar
big pinch of fine sea salt
4 large cold eggs (from the fridge)
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of smoked sea salt flakesPreheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly butter an 8″ springform or loose-based tin. Place the hazelnuts on a small tray in the oven and toast for a few minutes until they start to smell and darken slightly. If they have skins, rub as much as you can off with a tea towel. Put into a food processor with the flour and blast until they are finely ground.Place a mixer bowl (or another bowl if using a hand mixer) over a pan of barely simmering water. Chop the chocolate up and tip into the bowl. Stir occasionally as it melts. Meanwhile weigh out the brown sugar and salt and cut the butter into cubes – it should be starting to soften, not squishy. When the chocolate has nearly melted, take it off the heat and stir until it’s smooth. Place on the mixer (with the whisk attached) and add the sugar, salt and butter. Whisk on medium until the ingredients have fully combined and the mixture has lightened a little. Scrape the sides down then add the first egg. Whip until combined, then add the next egg. Repeat until they’re all combined then add the vanilla and whip for 1-2 minutes on high until stiff and pale.Add the ground hazelnuts and fold in. Scoop into the pan and level out. Sprinkle the smoked sea salt over the top. Bake for 28-35 minutes – a tester should still bring up a few sticky crumbs. Place on a wire rack and leave to cool fully in the tin. Wrap in kitchen foil and leave for at least one day and up to three before serving. Lovely with a big spoonful of whipped cream or crème fraîche.(Serves 10-12)
– See more at: http://www.poiresauchocolat.net/2012/11/chocolate-hazelnut-torte-with-smoked.html#sthash.CDp8X22X.dpuf
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