Sunday, February 10, 2013

Torta Gianduja (Flourless Chocolate Cake with Hazelnuts and Orange Peel)

Every good meal needs a showstopper for dessert, and this is particularly true for valentine's day.  That's where this cake fits the bill perfectly.  And since there is no icing or filling required, it is a real time-saver.

Torta Gianduja (john-do-yah) is a classic Italian cake.  It is light and airy, and moist and crunchy and fragrant with orange peel.  This cake needs no icing besides a light dusting of powdered sugar.  It can be served warm, room temperature or chilled with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a good cup of coffee or espresso.

This cake takes about 2 hours to prepare, from start to finish, but can easily be made ahead of time if you are in a hurry.

Torta Gianduja (Flourless Chocolate Cake with Hazelnuts and Orange Peel)
serves 8-10

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (filberts)
8 oz unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
finely grated zest of 1 orange
3 Tbsp Frangelico
5 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease a 8-inch spring from pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper.

Place Hazelnuts in a pie pan and toast at 350 F for 20 minutes until toasted and fragrant.  Cool.  Place toasted hazelnuts, 1/2 cup at a time, between 2 sheets of paper toweling and gently rub between your hands to remove papery hulls.  Grind Hazelnuts finely in a food processor.

In a large glass bowl, combine butter and chocolate, and microwave at 30 second increments stirring in between heating, until melted and smooth.  Add orange zest and Frangelico to chocolate and stir until well-blended.

In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar and beat until very light and fluffy.  Fold into chocolate mixture.

In yet another bowl, whip egg whites just until soft peaks form.  Fold into chocolate mixture in thirds.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake 40-50 minutes until top is crusted and a cake tester comes out with moist crumbs adhering to it.

Cool for one hour before removing from pan and placing on a serving platter.  Dust with powdered sugar.  Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

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