Cho­co­late and hazel­nut cake.

SERVES 8-10

Halliday - - Food & Wine -

Our chef friend Antonella Sec­ciani brought this rich and deca­dent cake as a present to us one Christ­mas as it is gluten-free. The sugar quan­tity is low, but the cho­co­late con­tains sugar, so the sweet­ness is just right.

2 cups hazel­nuts, blanched or with thin skins on

200g dark cho­co­late (min­i­mum 70% co­coa solids), bro­ken into pieces

200g salted or un­salted but­ter, plus ex­tra for greas­ing

6 medium eggs, sep­a­rated

25g caster sugar

⅓ cup cold espresso

3 tbsp Cognac

Whipped cream, to serve (op­tional)

Pre­heat the oven to 180°C. Grease a 24cm spring­form cake tin with but­ter, or line the base of a shal­low cake tin of sim­i­lar di­men­sions with bak­ing parch­ment.

Put the hazel­nuts in a roast­ing tray and roast for 5 min­utes or un­til just golden brown. Re­move from the oven and set aside to cool.

Put the cho­co­late and but­ter in a small saucepan over a low heat and melt to­gether, stir­ring con­stantly. Re­move from the heat as soon as the mix­ture is smooth and no lumps re­main (this can also be done in a mi­crowave). Set aside. When the hazel­nuts are cool, blitz them to a fine pow­der in a food pro­ces­sor or chop them by hand. The choice of tex­ture is up to you – smooth or crunchy.

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl for 4–5 min­utes un­til pale and fluffy. Add the hazel­nuts to the bowl and whisk to com­bine, then pour in the espresso, Cognac and melted cho­co­late mix­ture, and whisk through. Beat the egg whites in a spot­lessly clean bowl with an elec­tric whisk un­til they form stiff peaks, then fold them into the cake mix­ture with a large metal spoon.

Pour the mix­ture into the cake tin. Bake for 30 min­utes or un­til the top feels firm to the touch and doesn’t wob­ble. If it wob­bles, bake for a lit­tle longer. Re­move from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Serve with whipped cream and a shot of strong espresso.

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