It's that special time of the year .. Diwali is here!! Walk around any Indian city, town or village, you just can't miss the spirit of bonhomie and excitement that overtakes all of India. A time when all of India is lit up with lamps and lights to welcome the Goddess of prosperity in all aspects of our lives. A time when you reach out with the warmest wishes not only to your friends and family but even to random strangers that pass you by.
It is also a time when all kinds of deliciousness is being rustled up in kitchens across India, to be shared with family and friends. In the ideal world, you would want to make all that deliciousness in your kitchen. In the modern, practical world, you may outsource all that deliciousness, from people who are more adept than you. What remains important is that your home remains welcoming and warm to all!!
But that doesn't mean I can't bake a cake and share it with you this Diwali. And it's not just any cake, it is the most decadent and luscious chocolate cake that I've ever baked. Perfect for any celebration!!
This is a flour-less, chocolate and hazelnut cake that I had seen the 'Hairy Bikers' bake in Italy when they baked their way through Europe. I have never worked with hazelnuts before and wasn't sure how they tasted or for that matter, how they paired with chocolate. This cake explains and justifies why chocolate and hazelnuts are one of the most favoured and celebrated food pairings.
There is nothing complicated with the recipe. The cake will not rise much as there is no baking powder used. Instead it rises on account of the eggs used and how well you whisk those egg whites. Do be prepared for the top to sink a bit when you take it out of the oven.
The flavours of the toasted hazelnuts melded with the dark chocolate results in a dense, luscious chocolate cake where the taste and sensuality of chocolate is heightened without being overpowering. Even better, there is no cloying after taste and a small piece of this rich cake goes a long way.
The cake works well on its own but to finish it off for presentation, I added a small layer of my tried-and-tested frosting on the top of the cake. This is not an everyday cake but a cake for a celebration!!
This festive season, I wish you love, luck, happiness and prosperity in all aspects of your life. Wishing you a very happy and blessed Diwali, from my home to yours!!
Flourless Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake
- 100 gms whole blanched hazelnuts
- 100 butter, plus extra for greasing
- 100 gms dark chocolate, chopped roughly
- 3 medium eggs, separated
- 100 gms caster sugar (I used Demerara sugar)
- 1.5 tablespoons orange liqueur (You can use orange juice, hazelnut liqueur, amaretto liqueur or coffee liqueur)
- 40 mls water
- 1 tablespoon Demerara sugar
- 60 gms unsalted butter
- 100 gms dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur or any other option that you may have used in the cake (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven at 200 deg C.
- Put the hazelnuts on a roasting tray and roast them in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes. Shake the pan around, halfway through. Roast them until they are golden brown. Watch carefully so that they don't burn. Remove and cool for a few minutes.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 180 deg C. Butter a 8-inch spring form cake tin and line the base with parchment paper.
- Place the roasted, cooled down hazelnuts in a food processor and blend them until they are finely ground.
- Gently melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over gently simmering water. Once melted, remove from heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Add the ground hazelnuts to the chocolate mixture and let it come to room temperature.
- Beat the egg yolks and sugar together with an electric whisk until pale and creamy. Stir it into the cooled down chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.
- Wash and dry the beaters of the electric whisk well.
- In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Stir in the orange liqueur into the chocolate mixture. Add a couple of tablespoonful of the whisked egg whites and stir until thoroughly combined, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is well-risen and firm. If you feel the cake is beginning to brown too fast (as it happened with me) on the top, cover it with a foil for the rest of the baking time.
- Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the tin for 30 minutes. After that, you can remove the cake from its pan and let it cool completely
- For the frosting: Put the butter, sugar and water in a saucepan on low heat until the butter is completely melted.
- Once bubbling, take the saucepan off the heat and add the chopped dark chocolate. The heat from the mixture will be enough to melt the chocolate.
Do not stir the mixture with a spoon but rather swirl the pan around to help the chocolate melt.
Once melted, whisk the mixture until smooth and glossy. At this stage, it will be very liquid.
Leave the mixture for about an hour. It will thicken as it cools down. This suits us just fine as the cake has to cool completely before we use this frosting.
- Once the cake is cold, spread the frosting on the top of cake and serve.