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This quadruple-layer dark-chocolate cake features the distinctive flavor of hazelnuts.
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons (2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
1 cup (8 ounces) boiling water
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon creamy hazelnut flavoring oil OR 1 teaspoon hazelnut flavor (optional, but good if you're a hazelnut fan)
2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (9 1/2 ounces) Round Table Pastry Flour
1 1/2 cups10 1/2 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (3 5/8 ounces) finely chopped hazelnuts
1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
whole or crushed hazelnuts, for garnish
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks, 12 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups (4 1/2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa
2 1/2 to 3 cups 10 to 12 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup warm water
2 cups (16 ounces, 1 pint) heavy cream
4 2/3 cups (1 pound, 12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon creamy hazelnut flavoring oil OR 1 teaspoon hazelnut flavor (optional)
Cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (or line with parchment and spray) two 9-inch round cake pans.
Whisk the cocoa and boiling water together until smooth; let cool. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, 1/3 of the cocoa mixture, vanilla and hazelnut flavor, if you're using it. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and hazelnuts. Add butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix at low speed until all ingredients are moistened. Increase beater speed and beat for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice. Add the egg mixture in three intervals, beating for 30 seconds between each addition. Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake the for 25 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool (out of the pans), then cut each in half lengthwise (horizontally).
Frosting: Combine the butter, cocoa and sugar. Mix at low speed, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time until frosting starts to come together. Then whip at high speed until lighter in color.
Filling: Bring the cream to a boil. Take it off the heat and add the chips and flavoring, if you're using it. Let sit for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir quickly with a whisk until fully blended.
Assembly: Transfer one cake layer to a cardboard disk or plate. Spread the top evenly with frosting. Repeat until all the layers are frosted, then frost the sides. Refrigerate the cake for a few minutes to allow frosting to firm. Pour slightly warm ganache over the top of the cake, letting excess drip off, so sides are evenly coated. Refrigerate to let ganache set. Decorate the cake with the remaining chocolate frosting, and garnish it with whole or crushed hazelnuts. Yield: 1 torte, 16 servings.