Sunday, July 29, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Cakes with Chocolate French Butter Cream and it's Gluten Free

Many years ago back when I worked in an office I used to pop into a little boutique store that made a delicious hazelnut chocolate cake on the premises. I used to walk half way across the city some lunchtimes in the hope that it would be on the menu.

Oh how exciting it would be if I opened the door and the delicious smell of just baked chocolate cake greeted me.

Funnily enough my work moved offices to just around the corner of the store at about the same time the store changed owners and sadly the hazelnut chocolate cake was removed from the menu.

That was a long time ago now and I have tried a few chocolate hazelnut cake recipes over the years and found them sadly lacking, mostly over moist and bordering on gluggy.

So I decided to come up with my own recipe. It's definitely not the same cake but it is delicious with a chewy just moist enough texture and lovely robust hazelnut flavor. Also it is gluten free which I know is a big plus for many of you.

and y'all know I just love to make my cakes mini at any opportunity. I received this fabulous Baker's Secret Loose Base Dessert Pan from Kitchenware Direct which I have been coveting for a while and with the ingenious pop out bottoms it was perfect for making these mini cakes. Plus dishwasher safe. I can't ever love that enough.

I paired the cakes with a french chocolate butter cream because, well, it is pretty delicious plus I always despair of the amount of egg yolks I waste and this was a perfect opportunity to use up a couple.

Then I played around with a few decorative toppings......... macarons,


then macarons plus raspberries.

They were all equally delicious :)

I had the gold mini macaron shells left over from a party we had on the weekend and I filled them with a little of the excess butter cream. If you don't  happen to have a batch of mini macarons just lying about you can use something else - I thought a lindt ball or ferrero rocher might look good. Otherwise if your looking for a recipe for macarons CLICK HERE.

If your don't feel like whipping up a batch of butter cream the cakes are actually quite nice on their own, served with a little cream or with a warm chocolate ganache.

The ones in the pictures are about 4cm high and they look lovely, but I recommend for sensible eating you should probably make them about half the size. If the smaller sized cakes are not quite enough you can always have another serve.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cakes (Gluten Free)
makes 12 cakes 2cm (0.8") high or 6 cakes 4cm (1.6") high (the ones in the pictures are 4cm high). I used large eggs.

4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups hazelnut meal (ground hazelnuts)
1 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup cocoa (unsweetened) sifted

Preheat oven to 140 C (280 F).

Lightly spray loose base dessert pan with cooking spray or oil.

In a large clean bowl whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Mix in 1/4 cup sugar and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Scrape down the sides as required and continue adding sugar approximately 1/4 cup at a time until the sugar is all added and dissolved. The mixture will appear stiff, white and smooth.

Add the hazelnut meal and the cocoa and fold in until just combined.

Divide the mixture between the 12 cups in the tray filling them just under 1/2 full and smooth the tops as much as possible with the back of a spoon.

Ooops that's a bit messy - this is what the mixture will look like before baking. 
Fill the individual cups a bit less than shown to make 12 cakes from the mixture.

Bake for 35 minutes, the tops of the cakes should be hard when gently tapped.

*If you choose to make 6 high cakes instead divide the mixture between 6 of the cups and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and using a thin blade knife gently run the knife around each cake to release from the side of the loose base dessert pan. The cake is a bit sticky so do not worry if they do not release cleanly. Be very careful with the knife so you do not scratch the baking pan.

Carefully pop each of the cakes out of the tray by putting your fingers underneath the tray and pushing the loose bottom up.

The tray will still be hot at this stage so be very careful and use a tea towel or other protection to hold it.

Pop the cake onto a plate and using the thin blade knife slide the cake off the loose base, it should release easily.

Allow to cool to room temperature and decorate with swirls or dots of chocolate french butter cream (recipe below) and decoration of choice.

Undecorated cakes can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 days in an airtight container. Cakes decorated with butter cream can be stored in the fridge for 3 days in an airtight container, remove from fridge at least 10 minutes before serving. Cakes decorated with fruit are best served immediately.

Chocolate French Butter Cream makes enough to generously top 12 cakes. Recipe can be halved.

Heating the sugar syrup to 118C (245 F) apparently heats the eggs sufficiently to kill any potential salmonella bacteria. The butter cream recipe will still work if you just warm the water and sugar to make a syrup but you can not be assured that the eggs will have been sufficiently heated to reduce the possible health risk.

4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
250 grams (8 7/8 oz) unsalted butter cut into small cubes
150 grams (5 1/4 oz)dark chocolate melted and cooled slightly

Place water and sugar in a saucepan and heat until the syrup reaches 118C (245 F), brush down the sides of the pan as necessary with a brush to stop crystallization.

Just before the syrup reaches the required temperature Place the egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer and using whisk attachment beat until slightly bubbly and frothy.

If you have a shield for your mixer ensure it is in place. Continue to whip the egg yolks at high speed while you carefully pour in the hot sugar syrup in a slow stream.

Keep whipping the egg yolk and sugar syrup until the mixture becomes very light and fluffy has increased in volume and cooled down. The outside of the bowl should feel comfortable to touch, around room temperature. (If the mixture is too hot you will melt the butter at the next step).

With the mixer still on high speed add the butter a few cubes at a time until it has all been incorporated. 

Add the cooled chocolate and mix until well combined.

Items decorated with french butter cream should be kept refrigerated and removed from fridge 10 - 15 minutes prior to serving. consume within 3 days.

disclosure I received the Baker's Secret pan from Kitchenware direct. No financial compensation was provided and the words and ideas used in this post are my own.