Hooray!! MCATs are over, finally. Unfortunately I have to wait 30 days to find out my score, but I’m really hoping that I won’t have to take those ever again. Now that I’m done with MCATs and work, I have complete and total freedom!!!!..for about 12 more days before I leave for school. But let’s not think about that!!
Here’s the wonderful chocolate hazelnut flourless chocolate cake I made for when my brother was still here. I used Kate Zuckerman’s Chocolate Bete Noir recipe, and replaced a lot of the butter for praline paste. It was my first time using praline paste, (and it won’t be my last, the can of it that I have is huge! Watch for how I use the remaining amount next!) but I love love love it. Chocolate hazelnut along with chocolate mint are my favorite combinations ever, so, naturally I needed to put this paste into a neverending-chocolate cake.
I haven’t made too many flourless cakes, but I knew I didn’t want one that was too overwhelming, or with a texture that seems like the cake is underbaked. I wanted a cake with a light, almost mousse-like texture. But without having to whip egg whites and yolks separately. I’m demanding, what can I say.
Fortunately, Kate’s cake was exactly that! So simple, without making you struggle to finish a slice. She does have an extra step where you boil the sugar into a simple syrup, which I don’t usually see in flourless cake recipes. But it’s a great idea, because it ensures that your final product is silky smooth, and no gritty crystals to speak of upon reserving after refrigeration.
I really like this best when it is served room temperature, so that when you put a bite in your mouth, it almost melts away. That being said, it lasts forever in the refrigerator (ours almost two weeks…not because we didn’t like it, but we were 3 people with a lot of other desserts to eat too!). Just make sure to take it out 10-15 minutes before you want to serve it (Or you can serve it chilled for the firm, fudgelike experience). I only ask that you serve it with lightly sweetened whipped cream that has some Frangelico added to it. It transforms the cake into pure heaven.
Gianduja Bête Noir
Adapted from Kate Zuckerman’s “The Sweet Life”
Makes 10-12 servings
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
9 oz. dark bittersweet chocolate
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
2oz butter, at room temperature
5oz hazelnut praline paste, like this
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Put sugar in a medium-sized saucepan and add 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium- high heat. Once the mixture has come to a boil, remove the pan from the heat. Let the syrup rest for 10 minutes.
2. Chop the chocolate into 1/2-inch pieces and place in a medium bowl. Pour about half of the hot syrup over the chocolate and begin whisking the mixture gently. Add the remaining syrup and whisk until you have a shiny, thick chocolate sauce, about 2 minutes. (The chocolate will seize a bit when you first add the syrup, but as you add more of the syrup the cocoa particles and sugar will dissolve, making the mixture smooth again.)
3. Add the eggs and yolk one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the salt – and the vanilla extract. Mix together the butter and hazelnut paste so the paste is thinned out, and add the mixture, one tablespoon at a time, whisking until all the butter/paste is incorporated and the batter is shiny and somewhat viscous.
4. At this point, you can proceed with baking the cake, or you can refrigerate the batter for up to 3 days. If you refrigerate the batter, you will need to let it sit out until it comes to room temperature.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and even out the surface with a spatula. Bake until the center of the cake is set and the top has cracked and developed a glossy, thin crust, around 40 minutes. If the center seems jiggly, bake for another 10 minutes or so.
6. Remove from the oven and cool for 1 hour before serving. Serve with Frangelico whipped cream.