There are certain recipes that are winners and while at the Dublin Cookery School we were given a recipe called ‘Robert DeNiro’s Chocolate Hazelnut Cake (this is a winner!). Lynda who owns and runs the school made this cake for Robert DeNiro’s birthday, to this day she doesn’t know what he thought of the cake. So in the absence of any feedback from Mr DeNiro, let me categorically state that this is the best chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted!
What I love about the cake is that although it is made with dark chocolate, it manages to have an unexpected lightness to it that will make you reach for a second slice!!
In our house this cake is known as the Puffle cake (a character from Club Penguin for those of you who don’t have kids and haven’t a clue what I’m talking about). My youngest son loves this cake and requests it for birthdays and any occasion he thinks he can get away with. And yes I pipe an image of a puffle on it (the first time with a very shaky hand as you can see)
Well on Saturday last my husband and I were invited to a joint 40th birthday dinner of friend’s of ours (yes we know people that old! Just kidding ;o)) And I offered to do the cake, my friend Catherine (who probably won’t be my friend any more after my last comment) is unable to eat gluten and I suggested this cake because there is no flour in it, the ground nuts being the substitute for flour. As ever it was delicious. Although in the original recipe we used ground hazelnuts, I always use ground almonds because I prefer them. However, you can use whatever you fancy.
- 170g/6oz butter
- 170g/6oz sugar
- 6 eggs
- 170g/6oz ground almonds
- 170g/6oz dark chocolate (anything from 55% cocoa up)
Preheat the oven to 190c/375f/gas 5. Prepare a 9″/23cm springform tin by greasing and lining with parchment paper.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Prepare the eggs by separating the yolks from the whites and set the whites aside to use later. Gradually add the yolks to the butter and sugar mixture, until thoroughly mixed through.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate by placing in a heat resistant bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stirring occasionally to speed up the melting process. Keeping an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Set aside as soon as it has melted and allow to cool before adding to the butter, sugar and egg mixture. Mix the chocolate into the butter mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Now beat the egg whites until stiff, ensuring not to over do it as they will start to separate and you will loose all that lovely air you will have generated that helps the cake to rise. A good rule of thumb is, when the egg whites form a stiff peak when you stop the mixer, they are done.
Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, alternating with the ground almonds and finishing with the egg whites. Ensure that the egg whites are thoroughly mixed through the cake mixture otherwise there will be flecks of egg white cooked through your cake which wouldn’t taste very nice.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and place in a preheated over for approximately 40 minutes. I always check it after 35 minutes by placing a wooden skewer into the centre of the cake. It is cooked when moist crumbs stick to the skewer. The cake will sink a little in the middle as it cools. Allow it to cool completely in the tin.
Now for the yummy ganache that covers the cake.
- 170g/6oz dark chocolate chopped up
- 6fl oz/175ml single cream
Heat the cream in a saucepan. Just as the cream is coming to the boil, add the chocolate and stir gently until melted. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool until it is about the consistency of thick yoghurt. The ganache can be placed in the fridge to speed up this process however, keep an eye on it to prevent it from getting too thick and stir occasionally.
when the cake is cold, remove from the springform tin, loosening the sides and placing a cake base on top, invert the cake onto the cake base. Put the cake on a cooling rack with a a sheet of parchment under it to catch any extra ganache that will drop as you are icing it. The easiest way I find to ice this cake is to pour most of the ganache onto the centre of the cake and tilt the cake from side to side to allow the ganache to run over the sides ensuring that the sides of the cake get completely covered with ganache. Have a palette knife at the ready to spread over any patches that have been missed.
Keep chilled until ready to serve. This cake lasts really well so can be made in advance of a birthday etc. It’s also delicious heated ever so slightly in the microwave and served with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!