Thursday, January 26, 2012

Nine Months & Nutella

Every Friday I bake a cake. The weekends are when I always have friends and family stop by, so having a freshly baked cake is always a must. Also, my kids love waking up on Saturday morning and enjoying a good piece of cake- I love it too. Growing up, my mom always baked at least one cake for Shabbat. So, I've followed in her footsteps. Usually, I like to keep it simple- like an orange sponge cake or chocolate and vanilla marble cake, or an apple spice cake...It all depends on my mood and of course what I have in the house.
Last Friday I woke up with Nutella on my mind (perhaps it had to do with the fact that I am 9 months pregnant?) You have to understand. Nutella has played the role of peanut butter in my life. In fact, I actually never tasted peanut butter until I was 18 years old. We never had it in the house growing up. In place of PB&J sandwiches, my mom gave us Nutella. It wasn't a treat, it was a staple in our household, and it continues to be. But, Nutella cake? I was on a mission. Well, it didn't take too long for this mission to be accomplished. I had remembered seeing a Nutella cake in one of Nigella Lawson's cookbooks, and I found it in no time. "Torta Alla Gianduia" is the name she gives the cake, and let me tell you, she's a beauty. This is an amazing chocolate hazlenut cake that actually uses Nutella spread- rich and creamy, and also really gorgeous. If I ever thought a cake was sexy, this would be it. So, if you are in the mood to bake a cake, or perhaps you have a special occasion coming up (perfect for Valentine's Day- oy vey- this is a Kosher cooking blog!), give this recipe a go.

Torta Alla Gianduia-Chocolate Hazlenut Cake
Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson

For the cake:
6 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups Nutella spread
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts or almonds
4 ounces milk or bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled (you can melt in microwave, be careful not to burn)

For the topping:
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, peeled or unpeeled
1 cup Nutella spread

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan by greasing with spray and lining with parchment paper. (I use the pre-cut parchment paper rounds, they are available in 9-inch and 10-inch circles and make baking so much easier. Available at specialty baking stores or online on Amazon: )
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff and glossy. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks, butter, nutella, and water until smooth. Stir in the ground nuts and the cooled melted chocolate. Fold in the egg whites using a spatula. Don't be afraid of this step. Just keep folding with the spatula until the egg whites disappear into the chocolate. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake, uncovered for 40 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away at the sides. Let the cake cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the hazelnuts. Place a large pan over medium-high heat, and once the pan is hot, add the hazelnuts. Toast about 1-2 minutes per side, shaking the pan often. They burn quickly, so be careful. Remove from the pan, and set aside. If you used unpeeled hazelnuts, the skins will easily come off if you simply rub the warm hazelnuts in between your hands. Once the cake is cool, remove the cake from the springform, as it should come out easily. Carefully peel away the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake, and place on a plate. Use a butter knife to spread the Nutella over the top of the cake, and place the hazelnuts over. Set it out on the counter, and see watch how quickly it will be devoured!

 Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff and glossy
 When the egg whites are ready, they should stick to the mixer and glisten
 Whisk the egg yolks, butter, Nutella and water by hand
 Stir in the ground nuts
 Stir in the melted chocolate
 Prepared pan: Spray with Pam and line with parchment round
 Add the egg whites
 Fold in the egg whites until they disappear into the chocolate
 Pour into the prepared pan
 Smooth the top with a spatula
 Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan
 Remove the cake from oven and let cool before topping
 Spread a thin layer of Nutella over the top and place the hazelnuts over

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