We were invited to a Christmas Dessert Party at our friend Tom’s and of course we accepted. It is started to feel like Christmas even thought the days are unseasonably balmy. Anyway, it was an excuse for my daughter “the young baker” to test out another recipe from her favorite cookbook, The Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson
As she perused her book I told her to make it a little challenging, after all she was way past being daunted by cracking eggs and handling the vibration of the electric mixer. I knew it would come from the chocolate section (a given), and was happy she choose something I knew I would love but don’t possess the patience to make myself (too many steps for this One-bowl-And-It’s-Done-Girl!)
We had everything for her Torte in the pantry except for the hazelnuts, but when I went to the supermarket I couldn’t justify paying 3 times what every other variety of nut cost! I figured walnuts would work just as well, and in this case I was not wrong.
The other thing we changed in the recipe was adding a little more ground nuts to the body of the cake, and, using less nutella. That was for another practical reason: Ms. Lawson’s recipe called for 14 ozs of nutella but the standard jar in the US is 13 ozs, so went with that. I don’t believe in driving yourself mad following directions to the letter, and I’m trying to teach my daughter how not to get frustrated with recipes from cookbooks. That way she will learn how to relax when cooking and be more spontaneous.
Her cake was beautiful, and so delicious, I hated leaving it at Tom’s at the end of the evening.
6 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup soft butter (2 sticks, 8oz or 226 grams)
1 jar Nutella choc/hazelnut spread (the small jar in the US is 13oz and this will do fine)
1 tbs water
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs ground walnuts (I ground up some in my food processor. They can be rubble-like or fine in consistency)
4 oz bitter-sweet chocolate, melted (I a bar of Ghirardelli chocolate)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbs water
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup broken walnut pieces.
Equipment: one 9″ springform pan which has been buttered and parchment or wax paper has been buttered and laid in the bottom.
Preheat oven 350*
1 – Separate eggs, making sure to use a medium/large bowl for the whites. Whisk the whites until stiff (but less stiff than for a meringue). Set aside.
2 – Place butter and Nutella (use a small spatula to scrap out the last bits clinging to jar) in a large bowl and beat until well mixed.
3 – Add the ground walnuts, egg yolks and water to the mixture and blend well.
4 – Mix in the melted chocolate.
5 – Fold in the egg whites. Be gentle as you want to keep the mixture as airy as possible.
6 – Pour into your springform pan and place in preheated oven for about 40 minutes. (start checking after 35 minutes, and if the cake is pulling away from sides of pan or top looks brown, remove). Place pan on top of a wire rack to cool completely.
7 – While the cake is in the oven, melt the chocolate with the cream and water. When it has melted, use an electric whisk to beat until it is thick enough to spread onto the top of your cake (it does not have to be stiff). Set aside until the cake has cooled.
*if the icing refuses to thicken, add 1 tbs of confectioners sugar (icing sugar) to the mixture and that should do the trick* And on the other hand, if it gets too thick add a little water until it is a good consistency for spreading*
8 – Roast the walnuts: put medium saute pan on medium heat and add the walnut pieces. Cook, tossing occasionally until the walnuts start to pick up a little brown color in spots (6 to 8 minutes). Remove to a plate to cook completely.
9 – When cake has cooled, remove from pan very carefully and place onto a cake plate (or any flat board or plate). Spread with icing with a palette knife or spatula.
10 – Decorate with walnut pieces.
Serve alone or with a dollop of fresh cream.