Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Italian Hazelnut Cake

Last week I ran in the hills behind my house.  It was a 14 mile run, which isn't too long when it's a distance you've worked up to.  But when it's a 14 mile run with constant elevation changes, it gets a whole lot harder.  Add 20 degree weather with snow blowing in your face, and it's downright miserable.

It's moments like that when I really want to give up, grab my cell and call the local taxi service to take me home. But just as I looked up from my plodding feet, I saw something standing alone in the woods, watching me from between the trees.

I saw my first moose in Vermont.

For all the moose crossing signs on the highway, you'd think they're everywhere, but they're not.  I've seen plenty of deer, wild turkeys, great blue herons, beavers, woodchucks, and even a bear.  But never any moose.  And here in the magical silence of the falling snow in the dirt roads of Vermont, was a moose.

I stopped and watched the moose for quite a while, and she just stood in the woods looking back.  Snow was collecting on her head, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for her.  Alone in the woods on a snowy afternoon with no one else around.  I could have stood there for hours staring back, but I soon felt my sweaty back catch a chill, so I had to move on.

Luckily, the short break motivated me to run a little faster and push a little harder, all the while keeping a watchful eye on the woods for more winter friends.

After I made it home, I tried my hand at this Italian Hazelnut cake.  Along with a hot cup of espresso, it quickly boosted my energy levels back to normal. However, I couldn't help but wonder whether the moose was still standing alone among the trees, snow collecting all around her.


Continue reading for more pics and the recipe!
This cake is great for two reasons. 

The combination of fragrant hazelnuts and vanilla creates a delicious cake, and when you add milk chocolate on top, you get the cake version of nutella. Yet this cake couldn't be easier to prepare.  Once you get past roasting the hazelnuts and removing their skins, it’s a simple recipe to follow.  Just whip up the eggs, add melted butter, vanilla and the hazelnuts, then pop in the oven and relax.

The second reason I love this cake is that it’s gluten free.  If you follow my blog, you know that I bake with a lot of flour, and I certainly consume a lot of flour.  But after selling at farmers' markets this past summer, I learned there's a large demand for gluten-free products. Aside from coconut and french macaroons, all my products contain flour, so I'm excited to start providing customers with more gluten-free options.

Regardless of whether you can consume gluten or not, it's a delicious cake to enjoy on a snowy afternoon.


Recipe Adapted from the BBC Good Food Cake Collection.

5 eggs
1 1/3 cups whole hazelnuts
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk chocolate (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and line the bottom of a 21 cm spring-form pan.

2. Place the hazelnuts in a large enough pan so that they form a single layer.  Roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes, shaking about every 3 minutes, or until they are fragrant.  Let cool slightly, then place on a large dishtowel. Wrap the towel around the nuts, and rub the nuts in the towel.  This helps rub the skins off the nuts, but don't worry if you don't remove all the skin.

2. Grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until fine.  Separate the eggs into two bowls, placing the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the caster sugar to the egg yolks, and beat with whisk attachment until pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the butter, then fold in the ground hazelnuts and vanilla.

3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peeks form, then carefully fold by thirds into the hazelnut mixture.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the cake springs back when pressed lightly.

4.  Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and let cool.

5. If desired, decorate the top of the cake with milk chocolate.  Melt milk chocolate in a double broiler.  Either cover the entire surface of the cake, or use a pastry bag to create a design on the top. 



  1. 14 Miles!? Wow! And a moose in the end? Glad you had this cake to get back to :). Sounds so yummy good!

  2. Ohh this cake looks sooo fluffy and inviting!!! Would love a slice to go along my espresso coffee right now! :-)

  3. A moose? How cool!!! Your cake is gorgeous...love your detailed decoration on top. I'm sure it was delicious!

  4. I was looking for hazelnuts earlier today and couldnt find any :( This looks like a great cake.

  5. I love hazelnut,
    Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  6. Thanks for all the comments...

    kita- I had trouble finding hazelnuts too! The first grocery store I visited didn't have them anywhere..no idea why.

  7. Hazelnuts are also called filberts and can be found in the baking isle along with walnuts, pecans etc.



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