Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hazelnut Torte

1½ cups hazelnuts, toasted and with skins rubbed off
1½ cups all-purpose flour, plus some for the cake pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 T soft butter, plus a bit for the cake pan
1 cup plus 2 T sugar
3 large eggs
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
½ T finely grated orange zest
1 cup milk at room temperature
4 T semisweet chocolate, chopped by hand in small pieces

Garnish: powdered sugar or whipped cream

Recommended Equipment
A 10-inch springform cake pan
A heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the whisk

Butter and flour the cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center.

Chop the hazelnuts in a food processor or mini-chopper to small bits—not to a powder. Set aside.

Whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light, smooth, and fluffy; scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Incorporate the eggs, olive oil, and orange zest in several additions, blending each in at slow speed, scraping the bowl, then beating at high speed for a couple of minutes to lighten.

On slow speed, incorporate the dry mix in several additions, alternating with splashes of milk. Scrape the bowl when both are added, and beat briefly on high.

Fold in the chopped nuts and chocolate by hand, and blend in well.

Scrape the batter into the cake pan, and smooth the top.

Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and just spring back to a light touch.

Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes or so, remove the side ring of the springform, and let the cake cool completely.

Cut in wedges, and serve topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream. The torte will keep in the refrigerator for a week, well wrapped in plastic, or you can freeze it for longer storage.

When serving torte that has been chilled or frozen, toast the cut pieces in the oven (or toaster oven) to bring out the flavors.

- Add ⅓ cup sour cream and a splash of orange liquor after the eggs and before the flour (for moisture and more intense flavor).

Serve with mascarpone cream:
250 grams of mascarpone
⅓ cup of heavy cream
¼ cup of sugar
grated zest of an orange

Or, serve with orange glaze:
juice of one orange
powdered sugar

Or, serve with pear compote:
4 pears (peeled and chopped)
a strip of orange peel
1 cinnamon stick
¼ of a vanilla bean
-Simmer in a pan of water and sugar (reduced to a thin syrup)
Serve at room temperature over the cake with a dollop of Greek yogurt.


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