This year has definitely heralded the arrival of a sweeter tooth than what I have had before. I was never that bothered. I enjoyed the occasional cake, and complete surrender to some rhubarb and custard haribo, but if I was ever craving anything, it was usually composed of salt and probably fat.
I have always liked chocolate though. Chocolate is savoury first and foremost, with a layer of sweet on top. It is the gateway sweet for any savoury person. I was in Grenada earlier this year and I checked in an extra suitcase, mainly for chocolate, cocoa nibs, pure cocoa, cocoa butter and nutmeg. I keep it in an airtight box which I visit every now and then when I have a craving that needs to be satisfied or an idea that needs to be executed. Chocolate is so satisfying that I am happy after I have had my fill.
All week long I have been thinking of combining some of my Grenada cocoa and cocoa nibs with some lovely hazelnuts that I brought back from Piedmont, and that I need to use. Chocolate and hazelnut are a familiar and excellent combination. You know nutella of course, that deeply addictive chocolate spread based on gianduja from Northern Italy, a combination of hazelnut paste and chocolate. Nutella was originally called Pasta Gianduja. I make my own chocolate peanut butter at home, and my own riff on nutella too. Most recently, I made these gorgeous little cakes based on the same flavour profile.
If you love nutella, you won’t be able to get enough of these.
For intolerances or allergies – you can comfortably substitute coconut oil for butter here, for gluten free you can substitute rice flour or a gluten free flour of your choice, as the gluten isn’t key here.
Recipe: Chocolate and Hazelnut Cakes with Chocolate Butter and Caramelised Cocoa Nibs
Makes 6 small cakes
takes 45 minutes
Chocolate and Hazelnut Cakes
3 large egg whites
25g plain flour
75g icing / confectioners sugar
75g ground hazelnuts (use blanched hazelnuts)
Caramelised cocoa nibs
3 tbsp coarsely chopped cocoa nibs (or hazelnuts if you can’t source them)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
butter or light oil greasing the tin
bun tin or similar (I used a silicon canelé mould as I love the shape)
Preheat your oven to 200 deg C.
Prepare your tin by greasing with butter or oil.
Sieve the flour & icing sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the ground hazelnuts and stir through.
Whip the egg whites until fluffy but not stiff.
Melt the butter (or coconut oil) and add to the dry ingredients. Add the egg whites and stir through.
Fill tin until just below the top. There is no raising agent in this recipe but they will rise a bit.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until a skewer comes out dry when you test it.
Allow to cool before removing very carefully.
Melt the butter and the sugar and leave over a medium heat for a few minutes taking care not to burn it. Add the cocoa nibs or hazelnuts and stir until full coated. In a separate pan over a low heat melt the butter for the chocolate butter, then add the chocolate and remove from the heat. Stir until it has melted in.
Serve the cakes warm with some chocolate butter spooned on top and some cocoa nibs.
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