I have an abundance of fresh hazelnuts from the farmers market. We have three vendors now at the market selling hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds and chestnuts. It is very exciting that we can now get an array of fresh nuts. The difference in flavour and texture is so so different from the stale and sometimes rancid ones available from the supermarket. I am celebrating our locally grown hazelnuts in this recipe, the freshness shines through and compliments the dark, rich, dense chocolate.
CHOCOLATE AND HAZELNUT TORTE
200g dark chocolate, chopped
3 large free-range eggs
110g unsalted butter, diced
150g caster sugar
90g/ ground hazelnuts
60g self-raising flour
3 tbsp orange liqueur
freshly whipped cream, to serve
For the chocolate icing
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped
60g unsalted butter, diced
1 Tbsp orange liqueur (optional)
10-12 whole or coarsely crushed hazelnuts for garnish
Preheat the oven to 190C. Prepare a 23cm cake tin by lining it with non-stick baking parchment and greasing the sides.
Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, ensuring the bowl doesn't touch the water.
Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, placing each into separate bowls.
As the chocolate melts, stir it gently with a wooden spoon, until the last lumps have disappeared. Once the chocolate has melted, remove it from the heat and beat the butter into the chocolate, bit by bit, until all the butter is incorporated.
Add the sugar to the bowl with the egg yolks and whisk together with an electric whisk until pale, thick and fluffy.
Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture with a metal spoon. Add the ground hazelnuts and the flour to the mixture and gently fold in. Finally, add the orange liqueur.
Using an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form (ensure the beaters are scrupulously clean and dry).
Stir a spoonful of egg white into the chocolate batter mixture until completely incorporated, then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the cake mixture with a metal spoon.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over the top surface.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, until firm to the touch. (It will still be moist in the centre so the usual skewer test won't work.)
When the cake is cooked, remove and cool for 5-10 minutes, then turn out onto a cake rack to finish cooling. (At this stage, you can wrap the cake in foil or cling film and keep for up to three days, before glazing and eating.) When cool, remove the cake from the tin and place on a serving plate.
To make the icing, place the chocolate into a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water and allow it to slowly melt. Don't allow the water to touch the bottom of the bowl.
Just before all the chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the heat and beat in the butter bit by bit with a wooden spoon. Add the liqueur, if using.
Leave the icing to cool for 5-10 minutes, until it begins to thicken, but is still runny. Spread the glaze over the cake and down the sides, using a palette knife. Decorate the top with the whole hazelnuts before the glaze sets.
Serve with some freshly whipped cream.