I feel beholden to this simple flourless cake. The moment I posted the recipe on the blog, back in June 2011, I knew something in my short-lived blogger life had changed. Comments started trickling in, and that trickle soon became a torrent! It seems that this traditional cake from Piemonte speaks a language that everybody is fluent in: chocolate. But to call this a chocolate cake doesn’t really do it justice. There is so much more to it than that. What makes this indulgent cake so alluring is the addition of Frangelico and coffee-spiked cocoa paste. This blissful blend somehow ‘chocifies’ the chocolate: it is chocolate to the power of 10. So if you love a gentle, sweet, milk-chocolate cake, torta gianduja is not for you. But if you are a true believer, a proud chocolate addict, read on …
- 150 g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 160 g dark 70% chocolate, broken into pieces, or dark chocolate chips
- pinch of salt flakes
- 2½ tbsp hot espresso coffee
- 2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp Frangelico or rum
- 4 eggs
- 250 g brown sugar
- 1 cup (100 g) hazelnut meal
- 1 handful roasted, roughly chopped hazelnuts
- whipped cream and fresh berries, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Cooling time 1 hour
Preheat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Grease and line a 24 cm round cake tin with baking paper. (You could also use a smaller tin, in which case the cake will be higher.)
Melt the butter, chocolate and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water). When melted, remove from the heat.
Whisk together the hot coffee and cocoa powder in a bowl until there are no lumps. Stir in the vanilla and Frangelico or rum, then add to the melted chocolate and mix to combine.
Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the brown sugar and beat with a whisk or hand-held electric beaters until creamy.
Pour into the chocolate mixture, then stir in the hazelnut meal and chopped hazelnuts. Pour the batter into the tin. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until the edges are firm and the surface is cracked but feels soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 1 hour, then gently turn out the cake and sit it on a cake stand.
Dust with cocoa powder and serve with whipped cream and your favourite berries.
• This cake tastes even better the next day. If making a day ahead, store it in its tin at room temperature, and garnish with cocoa powder, berries and cream just before serving.
Recipe and image from Silvia's Cucina, Silvia Colloca (Penguin, $39.99 pbk)