Candies, ice cream and tortes throughout Italy are flavored with gianduja, the pleasing combination of hazelnuts and chocolate; those with the richest taste and most intense aroma come from Piedmont. This torte is typical of ones served in the charming Piedmontese town of Alba.
- 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 3 tablespoons potato starch (potato flour)
- 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten, plus 1 extra-large egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until they just begin to change color and the skins begin to loosen, 8-10 minutes. Spread the warm nuts on a kitchen towel. Cover with another kitchen towel and rub against the nuts to remove as much of the skins as possible. Let cool.
Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F. Butter and flour a cake pan 9 inches in diameter.
In a food processor fitted with the metal blade or in a blender, combine 1/2 cup of the peeled, cooled hazelnuts and the confectioners' sugar. Process just until the hazelnuts are finely ground, almost to a flour. (Do not overprocess.)
In a bowl, combine the ground nut mixture, the potato starch, all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking powder and cinnamon. Using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat for a few seconds to aerate the flour mixture. Add the butter and continue to beat until the butter is in very small pieces. Beat in the whole eggs and the egg yolk and the vanilla until blended. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is fluffy and a light cocoa color, 2-3 minutes.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the surface. Place in the center of the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 400 degrees F. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes.
While the cake is baking, place the remaining 1 cup hazelnuts in the food processor fitted with the metal blade or the blender. Process just until the hazelnuts are coarsely ground.
When the cake is done, transfer it to a rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake sides and invert onto the rack. Then place, right side up, on a serving plate. Immediately sprinkle the ground hazelnuts evenly over the top and press lightly to adhere. Let cool completely and serve.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Weldon Owen. All rights reserved.
nutrition information per serving
408 calories; 30g total fat; 93mg cholesterol; 94mg sodium; 31g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 7g protein
These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.
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