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Esurientes - The Comfort Zone

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Vehemently NOT low fat! Nutella cake

Hehehehe. *Very evil laugh*. From the sublime to the ridiculous. From one extreme to the other. From exuberantly low-fat chocolate fudge cookies to this! I walked into rehearsal with this birthday cake for Belinda, and my friends, who had been lulled into low-fat security by those cookies I've been bringing along recently looked at me with trusting, bright eyes and asked "So, this is low fat too, right?"
HAHAHAHAHA I don't think so, kiddies. This is one mamma of a luxury cake and in no way could be considered low cal. Sorry! It's a flourless chocolate cake containing 6 eggs, a chunk of butter, a block of chocolate, half a bottle of cream, alcohol, and a whole jar of Nutella. Yes, AN ENTIRE JAR OF NUTELLA!! *Swoon*. On the up-side, it doesn't contain any (extra) sugar! AND it's wheat & gluten free. Hehe. This is pure decadent indulgence, and bloody great it is too.

It was probably a bit much for 11.30am eating, to be honest, but I've never seen a cake disappear so fast; even those who hold back from rehearsal break treats (gotta lose weight before we tour Italy!) got stuck into this one. It's a damp, moist, gooey, luxurious delight (the cake, not sex...)
It was a bit of a spontaneous effort, this. See, I'd been out with the choir girls at a fashion fundraising event, and at the end of the night, talk came up about Belinda's birthday the next day. Knowing she's another foodie with her own foodblog I asked what cake she'd made for rehearsal the next morning. (birthday rules, you know. You gotta bring a cake!) However, Belinda is one of the hardest-working people I know and simply hadn't had time to make one, so in my champagne-fuelled benevolence I announced I'd make one for her.
"Mmm, a Niki cake?" she said. Yes people, flattery will get you everywhere!
It was 10.30pm by this stage. We then went out for drinks. Ahem. I got home at ummm....midnight, and then got started. So, if you are looking at my half-peeled hazelnuts and thinking "hey, she didn't get rid of all the skins!", then bugger off! It was 2.00am by that stage and I was so over rubbing nuts with a tea towel. :-) The extra 2 glasses of red wine I had forced upon me while making it might have had an effect too, perhaps? But, I think for a middle-of-the-night, half-drunk decoration effort, it's not so bad. Maybe not one of my greatest decorating triumphs. (but the balding clown candle is a highlight, n'est ce pas?).

Now, most people know this cake from its inclusion in Nigella's Domestic Goddess, but I distinctly remember making it before that book was published, having found the recipe on the internet when searching for a chocolate cake to make for a girly weekend, so I'm quite certain she got the recipe from somewhere else. Therefore I can't feel guilty for including her recipe here.

Added bonus of making this cake: It's pretty damn hard to get every smidge of Nutella out of the jar into the bowl. That stuff is way sticky, so, you know, when you can't get those last bits out it's the absolute perfect excuse to get stuck in with your fingers. Mmm....the cake probably doesn't need that last bit, does it? I'll just have to eat it.Can't let it go to waste! Mmmmm. Nutella fingers...... :-P

Read on for the recipe:

Nutella Cake
Serves 8 (or more like 20!)

for the cake
6 large eggs -- separated
1 pinch salt
125 g soft unsalted butter
1 jar of Nutella (400 g) (Yes, an entire jar.)
1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum or water
100 g finely ground hazelnuts *
120 g dark chocolate, melted

for the icing
100 hazelnuts
125 ml double cream
1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum or water
125 g dark chocolate

Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. (350 F).

Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. Line it with parchment or wax paper if you feel safer doing that. I didn't and it was fine.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs whites and salt until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together, then add Frangelico (or whatever you're using), egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with a dollop of egg white, which you can beat in as roughly as you want, before gently folding the rest of them in a third at a time. Pour into the prepared pan and cook for 40 minutes or until the cake's beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on rack.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until the aroma wafts upward and the nuts are golden brown in parts: keep shaking the pan so they don't burn on one side and stay too pallid on others. If you use unpeeled nuts, transfer them to a kitchen towel, and rub, rub, rub. Most of the skins should come off. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Leave them whole or chop them up, depending on how much skin you actually managed to get off.

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add the cream, liquer or water, and chopped chocolate and heat gently. Once the chocolate's melted, take the pan off the heat and cool in the refrigerater for a few minutes, then whisk until it reaches the right consistency to ice just the top of the cake. Unmold the cooled cake carefully. Ice the top with the chocolate icing, and decorate with the hazelnuts.

*You could use ground almonds instead if you can't find ground hazelnuts. I've done it this way before and it's fine, but a little more densely textured.
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