Chocolate, hazelnuts, coffee and caramel - need I say more?
This hazelnut cake has a slightly chewy, meringue-like texture to it, and although I folded dark melted dark chocolate throughout the cake mix, the cake itself isn't too rich at all. The toffee-coated hazelnuts, propped on the top like little jewels, add a bit of fun texture to the cake, which I think makes it come alive.
For something different, this cake would be equally delicious with two a vanilla-hazelnut sponges with a drizzle of hazelnut liqueur, then the mocha buttercream. Watch this space - I might just try this another time!
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake with Mocha Buttercream and Toffee Hazelnuts
Recipe adapted from BBC Goodfood's "Mocha Hazelnut Cake"
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
150g good quality dark chocolate, broken in small pieces
175g butter, softened
175g raw caster sugar
5 eggs, lightly beaten
100g ground hazelnuts
100g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups icing sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
2/3 cup butter, softened
2 tablespoons espresso coffee (or a tablespoon instant coffee mixed with about 1 tablespoon hot water)
1/4 cup milk, approximately
20 hazelnuts, toasted and skin removed ( you will only need 12, but I allowed for a few that broke during the process!)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1. For the hazelnut cake, preheat oven to 180˚C, and lightly butter a 20cm springform tin. Line the base with baking paper.
2. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan filled with water (ensuring the water doesn't touch the bowl) and place over medium heat until chocolate melts. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a medium size mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together, until light and creamy. slowly add the eggs one at a time. The mixture will curdle slightly, bull will come together once you have added the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the chocolate into the mixture, then add the hazelnuts, then sift in the flour and baking powder.
3. Pour mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Remove from oven and allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack to cool.
4. To prepare the toffee-coated hazelnuts, first of all, place a tea towel on a bench top, and place a heavy chopping board on top of the tea towel and flushed with the edge of the bench top. Place baking paper, or newspaper on the floor directly below the chopping board (this will help to collect any strings of toffee as it cools).
5. Gently insert pointy end of a long toothpick into the side of each hazelnut - just enough so it holds. Prepare an ice water bath and set this aside.
6. In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water together. The sugar will start to dissolve, then become a clear syrup. Bring this to the boil and allow it to keep boiling, swirling the pan occasionally, until the syrup turns a medium amber colour. Plunge the pan into the ice bath and allow it to cool slightly until thickened. Test the caramel by dipping a skewer into the pan; if a thick drip slowly forms and holds once lifted, then the caramel is ready for dipping.
7. Dip each hazelnut into the caramel, turning slightly to coat each hazelnut well. Then secure the opposite end of the toothpick under the chopping board. A long, thing string will begin to form. Repeat process with remaining hazelnuts. Once they have set, gently remove the toothpick and place the hazelnuts onto some baking paper. Set aside ready for decorating. (The caramel can be re-heated if required, if it becomes too hard).
8. For the mocha buttercream, beat butter in a large bowl until creamy and pale. Sift in the icing sugar and cocoa powder. Add the brewed coffee and mix well until combined. Slowly pour in the milk until the icing is smooth. Decorate as desired.