National Hazelnut Cake Day
This cake is pretty time-consuming and does take the better part of day but mostly because you are waiting for each component (ganache, cake, and caramel) to cool. I’ve put in the instructions in order of when things should be done – since the ganache needs the most time to cool, it should be done first. However, even though it takes several hours to make, the end result is beautiful and absolutely delicious. I brought the cake into work and had a co-worker down on her knees thanking me for bringing it in. Maybe the cake is a little extravagant for just bringing into work, so my suggestion is to save it for a special occasion!
Caramel-Cloaked Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups whipping cream, divided
2 cups hazelnuts (about 10 oz.)
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoons fine dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cheesecake pan with removable rim and set aside.
- Place nuts on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the oven, shaking pan occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes and remove loose skins. Set aside 8 nuts and process the remaining nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
- In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, combine the chocolate and 1 cup whipping cream. Cook over medium-low heat until melted and smooth, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, stirring occasionally, about 2 1/2 hours.
- In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar with an electric hand mixer until very thick, about 4 minutes. Stir in ground hazelnuts, bread crumbs, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
- In a separate medium bowl, with clean beaters, beat egg whites on high-speed until they hold soft peaks. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Add half the whites to nut mixture and stir to blend well. Gently fold in remaining whites until well combined. Spread batter level in the prepared cheesecake pan.
- Bake cake until golden brown and springs back in the center when lightly pressed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove the rim and let cool on a rack about 45 minutes.
- Once cake has cooled completely, split cake in half horizontally using a long, serrated knife. Gently slide a baking sheet or plate under the top cake layer to lift it off; set aside. Spread bottom cake layer evenly with chocolate ganache. Replace the top layer, cut side down, on top of the ganache. Set aside while you make the caramel sauce.
- In a 3-quart heavy saucepan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, remaining 1 cup of whipping cream, butter, and salt. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until mixture reaches 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 12 to 14 minutes. Pour into a medium glass bowl and stir occasionally until mixture cools to 150 degrees F on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. Once cool, stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Set cake on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour about 1 1/2 cups warm caramel sauce over the cake so the entire cake is covered. Arrange the reserved hazelnuts evenly around the top edge of the cake. Let stand until caramel stops dripping, about 30 minutes.
- The remaining warm caramel sauce can be served alongside the cake slices.