Hazelnut

There’s Something About Meringue

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Cake

There’s something about meringue that just makes me smile. Whether it’s a cookie , a cake , or an icing….I absolutely love making meringues. I don’t know if it’s the moment when the egg whites double, then triple, then quadruple in size that makes me happier or the part where you fold all the fun ingredients into the shiny {and sugary} egg whites.

I made this cake for my mother’s recent birthday party and I was surprised by how much people liked it. Generally, I don’t think people love meringue as much as I do, but this combination of hazelnut, chocolate, and whipped cream seemed to be a real crowd pleaser.

I found the original recipe on Food & Wine magazine’s website and followed it closely, only making a couple changes. One thing that is very important when making this dessert is to chop the hazelnuts by hand; this makes a huge difference. It was nice to have the  slightly varied sizes of hazelnut pieces throughout the meringue (you can kind of see that in this photo below).

folding meringue

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MERINGUE CAKE

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (7 ounces)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, roughly chopped {the size of a mini chocolate chips}
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 8-inch rounds on one sheet of the parchment and one 8-inch round on the other.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts on a third baking sheet and toast for 12 to 14 minutes, until browned. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a towel and rub to remove the skins. Chop the nuts. Lower the oven temperature to 225°.
  3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff. Beat in the vanilla extracts. Fold in the hazelnuts and semi sweet chocolate. Pour the melted chocolate down the side of the bowl and gently fold until the meringue is lightly marbled. Don’t fold too much! The more marbled, the cooler.
  4. Spread the meringue in the drawn circles and bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes, until crisp; rotate the pans halfway through baking. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the meringues cool completely.
  5. In the bowl of the standing mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar until firm. Remove the meringues from the parchment paper. Spread the whipped cream on the layers and stack them. Refrigerate or freeze the cake overnight. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature. Garnish with chocolate shavings before serving {to make the chocolate shavings: use a vegetable peeler on a large/thick bar of chocolate}.

Hazelnut Brown Butter Brownies

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If I could trace back to a single recipe that made me realize that gluten free baking wasn’t going to be all that bad… I would say it was this recipe by Stella Parks.  After many many failed attempts to make cakes, muffins, and other baked goods, I came across this recipe in Food and Wine Magazine.  I remember being on the brink of giving up all hope that I could make a great baked good without fluffy gluten-full flour. I even considered getting rid of all of my baking cookbooks because I was so frustrated.  But when I saw this recipe and photo I knew I had to give it one more attempt. This brownie looked and sounded too good to be true.  Lucky for me… it was a great recipe. I took them to work the next day and no one would have ever known they were gluten free. They were extremely chocolaty and delightfully moist– Just as a brownie should be.   After making the brownies I actually wrote the chef an email because I was so elated with the way they turned out. She wrote back to me saying  “ Many chefs see gluten free baking as a “restriction” but I think the person who commits to a lifetime of baking with only one kind of flour is the one with the restriction…” How very well said!

Stella has a great website named bravetart.com  Check it out!

Hazelnut Brown Butter Brownies

7 ounces hazelnuts

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups sugar

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent), chopped

6 large eggs

1 tablespoon instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon of hot water

1.      Preheat the oven to 325°. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil, pressing it into the corners and leaving overhang on the 2 short sides.

2.     Spread the hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast for 15 minutes, until fragrant and the skins blister; transfer to a kitchen towel to cool slightly, then rub off the skins. Let cool completely. Transfer the nuts to a food processor. Add the cocoa, salt and 1/2 cup of the sugar and pulse until finely ground.

3.     In a large saucepan, cook the butter over moderate heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until nutty-smelling and golden and the foam subsides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate; let stand until melted, about 2 minutes. Whisk the butter and chocolate until smooth, scraping up any browned butter solids from the bottom of the pan. Let cool slightly.

4.     In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs with the remaining 2 1/2 cups of sugar and the coffee until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Beat in the chocolate-butter mixture. Add the cocoa-hazelnut mixture and beat to combine, scraping down the bowl. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until the top is glossy and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the brownie cool completely on a rack, then refrigerate until chilled.

5.      Lift the brownie out of the pan and peel off the foil. Cut into 20 pieces and serve.

SERVE WITH Ice cream.