With thanks to Catherine B for prompting me to finally type this out. My one single written-out copy was getting pretty beat up and was the only place I had this with all its updates and notes. And so:
My personal version to add to all the other ones floating around out there. I promise you it is well worth the effort.
Take a 9″ springform pan and cover the bottom with parchment paper and butter the bottom and sides. Or just the sides, but then you’re going to have to peel it off really, really carefully. You can buy it in 9″ rounds or, I often just put the pan bottom against the paper and cut around it to fit. A little too big is better than a little too small. I do *not* just tuck a length of it between the pan and the sides and snap it in because I don’t want to damage how they fit together–learned that the hard way a goodly while ago.
Set the oven to 325 (my old oven) or 350 (my new oven, which by all evidence as well as expectation is far more accurate.) My pans are a bit on the dark side and are nonstick– a gift from my late friend Don, delivered by him and his son Cliff, and I think of them every time I use them.
10 oz really good dark chocolate. If you have a Trader Joe’s store handy, that would be 22 squares from one of their Pound Plus (500g) bars. I use their brown-label bittersweet but their red-label extra bittersweet would be really good, too.
6 eggs, separated
1/2 lb hazelnuts and
1/4 lb hazelnuts, roasted and the skins rubbed off as much as possible. Blessings on Trader Joe’s for selling toasted unsalted ones now with most of the skins off.
1 c sugar
1 c powdered sugar
2 tbl (or tsp, I won’t tell) sugar
1/4 good cocoa. I use Bergenfield Colonial Rosewood. Don’t use one that’s dutched. The dutching process generally speaking is a cover-up for inferior beans, according to a lecture my husband attended given by Mr. Scharffenberger of Scharffenberger Chocolate (which more recently has been bought out by Hershey) and it removes the flavinoids that justify the cocoa.
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c butter or, if you prefer, coconut oil. For good or bad you will taste the coconut if you do, though, just be forewarned.
2 tsp bourbon vanilla, the best variety for using with chocolate.
And now you:
In the Cuisinart: pulse 1/2 lb hazelnuts. Once it’s at the nut meal stage add the 1/4 c cocoa and the 1/2 tsp salt. Whirr till almost nut butter, or less far along if you want a more rustic texture to the finished cake. Scoop this out of the Cuisinart and set aside.
Next in the Cuisinart: make the hazelnut paste. Pulse the other 1/4 lb hazelnuts till quite fine. Important note: start ONLY with the hazelnuts, because if you try to grind whole hazelnuts with egg yolks you may well destroy your motor. Once the nuts are nearing the nut butter stage it’s not a problem. Okay, so: now add the 6 egg yolks and the 1 c confectioner’s sugar and whirr till it’s pretty smooth.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave in a container not much bigger than it; I do one minute, stir, then ten seconds more, sometimes twenty. Stir a lot to make it smooth. Chocolate burns very easily, better to stir more than heat more.
Meantime, in the KitchenAid or whatever mixer you may have, beat the six egg whites, adding the two tbl sugar gradually after it starts getting frothy. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat the 3/4 c butter, 1 c sugar, and the 2 tsp bourbon vanilla till light. In my KitchenAid mixer I now change the beater from the wire whisk-type beater to the heavier white beater (not the bread dough hook). Spatula in the melted chocolate, beat some more. Then the hazelnut/cocoa mixture. Beat. Then the hazelnut paste with the egg yolks.
Then by hand carefully work in those egg whites, starting with a large spoon. If you squish some of the whites into those last stubborn hazelnut globs through your fingers you’ll be in good company. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake 45 minutes, to as much as 50 minutes if you’re baking at the lower temperature.
Cool, unsnap the pan sides and remove, put a flat plate on top of the cake, flip it over, peel the parchment off, put another flat plate there and flip it over again so the top is back at the top and the cake is on a serving plate: tadaah!
Refrigerate, especially if the hazelnut-and-cocoa mixture was whirred only to the gritty stage–it’ll help hold it together as you slice.
Allergy notes: powdered sugar almost always comes with a bit of starch to keep it powdery, usually cornstarch but you can get it with tapioca starch instead at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and various health food stores if this is to be served to someone with a corn allergy. Coconut oil substitutes straight across very well for butter for the dairy allergic. This recipe is definitely gluten-free to the best of my knowledge, since wheat comes nowhere near it. Freezes beautifully, including in individual slices separated by two layers of wax paper if you so choose. Makes a great breakfast.
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