Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Hazelnut Chocolate Cake #recipe by @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE B: Who doesn’t love flourless chocolate cake, so dense, so rich? (Well, okay, anyone allergic to nuts. Sorry. I’ll trade you my sweet potatoes for your cake.)

I made this in early April, when many of us were baking for comfort, and I’ll tell you, though I am proudly People of the Pie, I’m loving my flirtation with the Clan of the Cake. I’d make this again in a heartbeat, if I could find the hazelnuts.

Okay, not a heartbeat—it does take some time. But it’s worth it. We use Scharffen Berger chocolate for most of our baking, but Ghirardelli, Valrhona, or any good quality baking chocolate will do nicely. Melt in a double-boiler or a small saucepan over low, stirring constantly.

One caution: Don’t put this cake in the fridge. I didn’t—I’m smarter than that—but because I’d put it on a large cake platter, it wouldn’t fit in the microwave. (You know, away from prying paws.) So I put it in the laundry room and closed the door. The unheated laundry room with no crawlspace or insulation underneath the floor. We had a cold snap that night and while the cake didn’t freeze, it got so cold that the fats in the ganache separated and hardened, creating unsightly butter lines. Oh, no! The taste was unaffected, but that’s why there’s no photo of a slice and a fork, which I’d planned to take the next day.

Oops. Guess I’d better make it again, just to be sure, right?

Send hazelnuts.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Adapted from the Williams Sonoma blog

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups ground skinned hazelnuts, ground blanched almonds or ground pecans
3/4 cup salted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
All-purpose flour for dusting
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup sugar
6 extra-large eggs, separated, at room temperature

For the ganache:

1 cup heavy cream
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Cool slightly, then rub in a rough towel to remove the skins. Grind in a small food processor.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch round springform pan with 3-inch sides. Line bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust with flour.

Melt the 8 ounces of chocolate, stirring, until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

In a bowl, using an electric mixer on high, beat the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the chocolate and the nuts.

Clean the beaters. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high until stiff and glossy but not dry, about 4-5 minutes. Use a spatula to gently but thoroughly fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top with the spatula.

Bake the cake until the top puffs, about 50 minutes; do not overbake. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the pan sides. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely, then peel off the parchment.

While the cake is cooling, make the ganache. In a small saucepan over medium heat, gently warm the cream until small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Remove from the heat. Add the 10 ounces of chopped chocolate and stir gently until melted and smooth.
Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Use a rubber or silicon spatula to spread the warm ganache over the top and sides. Let stand until the ganache sets before serving. Makes one 10-inch cake.

From the cover of THE SOLACE OF BAY LEAVES, Spice Shop Mystery #5 (Seventh St. Books), coming July 21, 2020 in e-book and audio, in paperback October 20: 

Pepper Reece never expected to find solace in bay leaves. 

But when her life fell apart at forty and she bought the venerable-but-rundown Spice Shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, her days took a tasty turn. Now she’s savoring the prospect of a flavorful fall and a busy holiday cooking season, until danger bubbles to the surface ... 

Between managing her shop, worrying about her staff, and navigating a delicious new relationship, Pepper’s firing on all burners. But when her childhood friend Maddie is shot and gravely wounded, the incident is quickly tied to an unsolved murder that left another close friend a widow. 

Convinced that the secret to both crimes lies in the history of a once-beloved building, Pepper uses her local-girl contacts and her talent for asking questions to unearth startling links between the past and present—links that suggest her childhood friend may not have been the Golden Girl she appeared to be. Pepper is forced to face her own regrets and unsavory emotions, if she wants to save Maddie’s life—and her own. 

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories.  Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. That flourless cake looks so good, Leslie, and thanks for the tip about the effects of cold temperatures on the cake.

    A chocolate-hazelnut combo is one of my faves. I freely admit that I ate a chocolate-hazelnut croissant this morning for breakfast (a rare treat).

  2. I imagine you could use almond flour for this? I could really use a piece of this right now!

    1. Sure -- the recipe calls for hazelnuts, almonds, or pecans. I'd grind your own almonds, though, rather than use almond flour.

  3. Flourless chocolate cake is wicked good stuff!
    @Peg Almond flour might work, but it would be pretty fine.

  4. Oh my goodness! The only thing this cake is missing is a sin tax. It sounds lucious.

    1. We have no sales or sin taxes in Montana, so eat up!

  5. Leslie, that cake looks scrumptious to me, so thanks for the recipe and the tips! Like Grace, (who is indeed lucky to have eaten that croissant!) chocolate-hazelnut combo is a favorite for me too. Last night my husband brought me some Ferrero Rocher chocolates, which certainly brightened my mood after a long, tedious day! Yay for chocolate!

    1. Chocolate is proof that there is a God! Glad your hunny's gift hit the spot!