Torta Gianduja

Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake from the Piedmont

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    12

    servings
    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

The combination of chocolate and hazelnuts probably originated in the Piedmont, where the torta gianduja is a popular dessert. Not very sweet, the torta derives its richness from the chocolate filling.

Ingredients

    Gianduja Cake Batter

  • cups whole hazelnuts
  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 12 tablespoons ( sticks) unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour

    Chocolate Filling

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup Italian brandy or white rum

    Chocolate Glaze

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream

Method

For the gianduja cake batter, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack in the middle level. Butter a cake pan that is 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep and line the bottom with a piece of parchment or wax paper, cut to fit. Butter the paper and dust the entire inside of the pan with flour, tapping out the excess. Place the hazelnuts on a jelly roll pan and toast them for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the skin is loose and rubs off easily. Place the hazelnuts on a towel, fold the towel over them, and rub to loosen the skins. Meanwhile, cut the chocolate finely and place in a small bowl over hot water to melt, stirring occasionally.

Combine the hazelnuts and ¼ cup of the sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse repeatedly to grind the sugar-and-hazelnut mixture finely. Add 2 tablespoons of the butter and continue pulsing the mixture until it is reduced to a paste, about 2 minutes. Remove the hazelnut paste from the work bowl and cool it. (Processing the mixture to a paste will heat it up somewhat.)

Beat the remaining butter with a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and soft, about 2 minutes. Beat in the cooled hazelnut paste until smooth, then the cooled chocolate. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, continuing to beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Stir in the flour. In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites, using a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed, until the egg whites are white, opaque, and beginning to hold their shape. Increase the speed to maximum and whip in the remaining ¼ cup sugar in a stream. Continue whipping the egg whites until they hold a soft peak. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees until firm in the center and well risen, about 35 to 40 minutes. Unmold the cake layer onto a rack to cool.

For the filling, cut the chocolate finely and set aside. Bring the cream to a boil in a saucepan and remove from the heat. Stir in the chocolate and allow to stand about 2 minutes so that the chocolate melts. Add the butter, whisk smooth, scrape into a bowl, and cool at room temperature until set and thickened, about 2 hours. Just before assembling the cake, beat the filling with a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute, until the filling is light in color and texture.

To assemble the cake, trim the top of the layer so it is even and slice into 2 layers. Place one layer on a cardboard disk and moisten with some of the brandy or rum. Spread half the chocolate filling on the layer. Top with the other layer and moisten with more brandy. Use half the remaining filling to cover the top and sides of the cake, reserving the remainder to decorate the cake later on. Refrigerate the cake but leave the reserved filling at room temperature.

For the chocolate glaze, cut the chocolate finely and set aside. Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan and remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and allow to stand 3 minutes for the chocolate to melt. Whisk until smooth and cool to room temperature.

Place the chilled cake on a rack set over a jelly roll pan and pour the cooled glaze through a strainer onto the cake. Cover the entire cake, using a spatula to touch up the bare spots. Chill the cake for 15 minutes to allow the glaze to set.

To decorate the cake, place the reserved filling in a small pastry bag fitted with a -inch plain tube (Ateco #0). Write “Gianduja” on the cake. Refrigerate until 1 hour before serving.