A Chocoholic’s Dream: Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

By Mardi Michels

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Nutella. I was 11 years old when I discovered it for the first time at our local Italian deli. The chocolate spread, with a hint of toasted hazelnuts, tasted quite sophisticated to my young palate.

While I still have that sweet tooth, these days I’m more interested in satisfying my cravings with something like flourless chocolate cake. This cake has long been one of my favourite desserts and I have wonderful memories of my mum’s version. Over the past few years, I’ve made a number of flourless cakes and this one – combining my favourite childhood flavours of chocolate and hazelnuts – is one of the most popular. It’s light, not overly dense and fudgy, and sophisticated in its simplicity. Enjoy it plain or dress it up with a little fruit coulis, whipped cream or ice cream.

This cake is a crowd-pleaser that’s also perfect for a romantic dîner à deux. In fact, a colleague asked me to bake one for Valentine’s Day dessert for his sweetheart. It’s that good.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake, Courtesy of Mardi Michels, eatlivetravelwrite.com, Toronto

Rich, moist and incredibly delicious, it’s hard to believe this heavenly dessert is made without a hint of flour.

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Serves: 8-10

6 oz (170 g) dark chocolate (64 or 70%), roughly chopped
4 oz (115 g) butter, chopped
6 eggs, separated
3 oz (75 g) granulated sugar
4.5 oz (130 g) hazelnut meal (ground hazelnuts)
whipped cream, to serve

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180ºC). Grease 8-inch (2 L) springform pan.
2. Combine chocolate and butter on top of double-boiler over barely simmering water. Stir until melted and combined. Remove from heat; cool slightly.
3. In medium bowl, use electric mixer to beat egg whites until glossy and soft peaks form. Set aside.
4. In separate bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick, creamy and light in colour.
5. Using rubber spatula, stir chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture.
6. Add hazelnut meal to chocolate mixture, gently folding until the hazelnut meal is completely combined.
7. Stir egg whites into chocolate mixture one-third at a time, gently folding until no more streaks of white show.
8. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until skewer inserted into middle of cake comes out mostly clean with some crumbs clinging.
9. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove side from pan and cool cake completely on cake rack. Serve with whipped cream.

Tip: This cake keeps well overnight, at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap or foil.

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Mardi Michels teaches French and cooking to elementary school boys. She writes eat. live. travel. write, a blog about culinary adventures near and far. She was a founding member of Food Bloggers of Canada, is a Food Revolution Day Ambassador for Toronto, contributes to JamieOliver.com and hosts adult cooking and baking classes in Toronto.