Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cocolat: Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

I have this problem.  See, I can never keep myself from buying a cookbook if it is full of pictures of chocolate cakes.  It's like a disease.  I HAVE to have the cookbook if it causes drool to spill down my chin.  And then I inevitably spend more time drooling over it than actually cooking from it.

I made an effort to break the cycle.  Well, at least break the cycle of not using my cookbooks to cook from.  This recipe came from a rather luscious chocolate cookbook from none other than Alice Medrich, and the resulting practically-flourless cake was absolutely divine.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte
From Cocolat by Alice Medrich

6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs, separated
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup (2 ounces) ground toasted hazelnuts
¼ cup (1 ounce) all-purpose flour
⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
12 plain hazelnuts, chopped, for decoration

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Line the bottom of an 8x3-inch round cake pan or springform pan with a circle of parchment or waxed paper.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a small bowl placed in a barely simmering water bath on low heat, stirring occasionally until completely melted.  Remove from heat.  Or, microwave on MEDIUM (50%) for about 2 minutes.  Stir until smooth and completely melted.

Beat egg yolks with ½ cup of sugar until pale and thick.  Stir in warm chocolate mixture, ground nuts, and flour.  Set aside.

Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually sprinkle in remaining ¼ cup sugar, beating at high speed until stiff but not dry.  Fold one-fourth of whites into chocolate batter to lighten it.  Quickly fold in remaining whites.  Turn mixture into prepared pan and smooth top if necessary.  Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or wooden skewer plunged into center of torte shows moist crumbs.

Cool torte completely in pan on a rack.  It will have risen and then fallen in the center, leaving a higher rim of cake around the sides and possibly some cracking.  Level and unmold torte onto an 8-inch corrugated cake circle.  Torte may be completed to this point, wrapped and kept at room temperature up to 3 days in advance.  Or freeze for up to 3 months.  Let come to room temperature before glazing.

Glaze with Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze.  Decorate with chopped hazelnuts.  Do not refrigerate.

Makes 10 to 12 servings

Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into pieces
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Place chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a small bowl.  Melt gently in a water bath over low heat, stirring frequently until almost completely melted.  Do not overheat the glaze; there is no need to warm it above 120°F.  Remove glaze from the water bath and set aside to finish melting, stirring once or twice until glaze is perfectly smooth.  Or, melt in a microwave on MEDIUM (50%) for about 2 minutes.  Stir mixture gently with a spatula or wooden spoon until completely smooth; do not whisk or beat.

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