so I’m officially obsessed with this hazelnut chocolate combination. Here’s how this story went:
A few months ago while cycling to school, the trees were as green as green could be. And they were all laden with this hairy green fruit like thing. We didn’t pay much attention, just enjoying the beauty of the green hue. A few weeks later and the hairy fruits were generously strewn all over the same streets. But only now they were brown. A week or two further and they had been flattened by all the cars that rode over them. But, we still didn’t show much interest in discovering what they were. Just a little bit of a, ‘what could those possibly be?’, from Charlize.
One day Charlize said to me she saw a mother and a daughter picking the strange fruit off of the streets quite vigorously. Our curiosity was heightening but we funnily enough still didn’t get off our bikes to investigate further. We can be so damn lazy sometimes!
A few days later when picking up from school, I saw Charlize from a distance, running towards me, yelling super excitedly. I couldn’t understand a word of what she was saying. The closer she got, I could vaguely tell that she had some creepy things in her hands. I was about to screech with fear at what she could possibly be bringing to show me when she let them fall at my feet. And out fell the hazelnuts too.
Could that be?? Is that how hazelnuts are born? That beautiful amazing nut hidden in that very creepy shell? And, then began our careful picking of the this beautiful nut. We spent many days picking out the perfect one. And had so much fun squealing about the fact that they were free! “Mama, do you know how much these cost at the grocery store? These are free!!!!!”
It really is my hero for the week. My butterfly. And this cake a labor of love.
adapted from here
285 grams hazelnuts
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp instant coffee powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon rum (I used coconut infused rum)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the chocolate rum buttercream
340 grams unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsps agave nectar or maple syrup
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsps rum extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup powdered hazelnuts (from above)
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F.
Grease and flour the bottoms of two (or one as in my case) 9-inch round layer cake pans with removable bottoms.
Finely chop the hazelnuts in a food processor. Set aside 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts for frosting (there should be around 3 cups left). Mix and sift flour, coffee powder, and cocoa; add 3 cups of powdered hazelnuts; mix thoroughly.
In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks with an electric mixer; add 1/2 cup of the sugar gradually and keep beating until very thick and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the lemon zest, rum, and vanilla.
In a separate large bowl, beat egg whites until frothy; add remaining sugar slowly while beating. Beat until soft peaks form. Fold in the egg yolk mixture to the beaten egg whites. Sprinkle a quarter of the dry ingredients over egg whites and gently fold until batter is partially blended. Repeat with second and third portions of the dry ingredients. Spoon last portion over batter and gently fold until just blended. Do not over-mix.
Gently spoon equal amount of batter into each cake pan, spreading to edges of pan. Bake 25 minutes or until top springs back when touched with fingertip. cool; remove from pans.
For the buttercream, whip the butter until soft and smooth. On low speed (of a hand mixer), add the powdered sugar, mixing until fully incorporated, and then add the agave nectar (or maple syrup), cocoa powder, vanilla extract, rum extract and salt. Mix in most of the powdered hazelnuts, reserving only a handful for the decoration. Taste for sweetness and add more powdered sugar if necessary.
Spread the buttercream between the layers, and on top. Sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts and eat away!