There is no Holiday season without treats!
Let us then present you with a luxurious recipe to make sure your taste buds can celebrate properly this coming Christmas.The main ingredient of this recipe is an Italian stable: NUTELLA!This fantastic hazelnut and chocolate spread is an ingredient that everyone loves in the Bel Paese, and there is not one kid (or adult for that matter) that would not hesitate one second to praise its taste and history. Nutella was introduced to the Italian Market in 1964 by Michele Ferrero, who further developed one of his father’s recipes, the “Supercrema” (Super-cream); in the past few decades its production has reached the incredible number of 179.000 Tons per year… and that’s only for the Italian Market. Nutella is a spin-off of “Gianduja“, a sweet mixture containing 50% hazelnuts and/or almonds and 50% chocolate, developed in the Piemonte region of Northern Italy in the mid 1800s, and its recipe is closely guarded by the Ferrero company.Every child in Italy has grown older snacking on slices of bread and scoops of Nutella spread, how many fond memories can be traced back to afternoon snacks, birthday parties, family celebrations… how many times our finger dipped into the Nutella Jar, without our mothers knowing it! Well, truth is, it is still happening!
With great pride we always have this ingredient in the house, it is not by any mean something we consume every day (given the caloric bomb that it is) but still, it is with a great sense of adulthood and independence that late a night, when the kids are asleep, Debi and I reach for our favorite spoons and dip into the jar, or simply prepare some toasted bread and pour a couple of glasses of cold milk. Yes, Nutella makes a great breakfast, a great snack, but also cures the worst late night munchies!
Here, for your palate only (and the ones of your family and friends), enjoy this one of a kind recipe that has been developed in our house during the past couple of years… it took several attempts to reach the proper balance of ingredients, but we can now hold our heads up high and be very proud, this cake is fantastic!
Let us know how it turns out!
Happy Baking and Buon Appetito!
Debi and Gabriele.
Serves: 8-10 / Prep Time: 30 min / Cook Time: 40 min / Cool Off Time: 3 hrs
In a non stick pan, quickly roast the hazelnuts then set them aside in a plate to cool off.
Bring a medium size pot of water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Place the dark chocolate, broken into pieces into a Pyrex bowl and place it into the simmering water (Bain-Marie) and mix with a small wooden spoon every now and then until melted, then turn off the fire and let stand into the warm water so it won't solidify again. Use a grinder, or with a chef's knife, to reduce the hazelnuts to a nice coarse granola; make sure you don't turn them into powder.
Butter a 9" cake pan and preheat the oven to 350º.
In a bowl big enough to contain all ingredients, start mixing the Nutella and the Butter, then move to the eggs; separate the egg whites and the yolks, add the yolks to the Nutella mix and in another bowl, using a mixer whip the whites with a pinch of salt. The whites should have a firm consistency but still look wet, don't over do it!
Add the egg yolks to the cake mix, then the ground hazelnuts, and then in small increments (about 1/4 at a time) fold in the whipped egg whites.
When all ingredients are worked together into a nice and soft batter, finally add the melted chocolate and work until completely absorbed, then pour into the cake pan. Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes, or until the sides of the cake will start separating from the sides of the pan.Be careful, this cake is almost a hazelnut fudge, no need to poke with a toothpick to check if the inside is ready or not. Cake will come out of the oven nice and fluffy, but it will deflate to half the size during its cool off period.
Serve garnished with some powdered sugar or go ahead and proceed to prepare the side garnish.
In a bowl mix the heavy cream and the powdered sugar, use a mixer to whip the cream; make sure not to over do it, otherwise you will end up with cream cheese.
In a non stick pan roast the hazelnuts, then grind them in a mixer (pulse) or with a chef's knife into a coarse granola.
In another non stick pan, over a medium high flame, mix the jam and the grappa until reduced to a syrup: enjoy the flaming liquor, but make sure you don't burn it all out.
Place the whipped cream into a pastry bag and start garnishing the side of the plate, you can obviously just scoop some cream into the plate with a serving spoon.
Decorate to taste, remembering that less is always better.
Add some raspberries, sprinkle some hazelnuts granola and finish with a squirt of the grappa and jam syrup. To work the syrup I would suggest a squeeze bottle, just to have more fun decorating and creating your own design; however using a spoon is fine and sometimes much easier, as the jam might get stuck into the nozzle of the bottle if not liquid enough.