When I think about chocolate, I believe that my heart skips a beat. Though there are some that can simply live without it, I confess that one way into my heart is through quality chocolat. I recently purchased Nigella's "How To Be A Domestic Goddess". I rapidly flipped through the book, eager to read her chocolat selections. Upon reaching the chapter that was merely a picture of raw Valrhona and the word "chocolate", I knew I would not be disappointed.
I came across a cake that represented Gianduia, chocolate mixed with hazelnuts. I was shocked when to read that this recipe called for a whole container of Nutella. But, what is it that I say? "If you're going to do it, do it up."
I ended up using bittersweet buttercream frosting instead of what was recommended. I also used Starbuck's Liquor instead of the Frangelico, and I like the hint of espresso that it gave. This is a very moist cake that aims to please.

Torta Alla Gianduia
From Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess

for the cake:
6 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
1/2 cup, soft, unsalted butter
14 ounces Nutella (1 large jar)
1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum, or water (this is where I used the Starbucks liquor)
scant 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
9-inch springform pan, greased and lined with parchment paper or wax paper

for the icing:
4 ounces hazelnuts (peeled weight)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Frangelico, rum, or water
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and the Nutella spread together, and then add the Frangelico (or in my case, Starbucks liquor), egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in the cooled, melted chocolate then lighted the mixture with a large dollop of egg white, which you can beat in as roughly as you want, before gently folding the rest of them in a third of the time. Pour into the prepared pan and Cook for 40 minutes or until the cake beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on a 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 that they don't burn on one side and stay too pallid on others. Transfer to a plate and let cool. This is imperative: if they go on the ganache while hot, it'll turn oily.
Note: I toasted my hazelnuts in the oven, 350 degrees for 10 minutes. The skins literally feel off. A great way to toast nuts. Simply rolls them between a hand towel to remove the rest of the skins.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce-pan, add the cream, liqueur or water, and chopped chocolate and heat gently. Once the chocolate is melted, take the pan off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency ice the top of the cake. ice the top with the icing, and dot thickly with the whole, toasted hazelnuts.
If you have used Frangelico, put shot glasses on the table and serve it with the cake.
Serves 8.


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