[Chocolate Cake with Caramelized Hazelnuts]
Last Sunday afternoon, my sister Céline and I organized a “Goûter de Cousins” at my place. We invited those of our cousins who live in Paris, which amounts to about a dozen. Most of them we only see once a year at family holiday parties – some a little more, some way less – and we thought it would be nice to start a little tradition of same-generation gathering.
The added bonus of this very friendly goûter party was, of course, that I had the perfect excuse for some serious baking : you have to feed all those guys, right?
One of the things I made was this luscious chocolate cake. I was trying to reproduce the Petit Gâteau Chocolat Noisette I had tasted and enjoyed so much back in December. Derrick had made his own attempt, had emailed me about it, and we had discussed what the best approach was.
I followed his advice and used his favorite brownie recipe from Cook’s Illustrated (if there’s one guy out there who knows what he’s talking about, it’s definitely Derrick, so I felt pretty confident about it). The only modifications I made were to use just one kind of chocolate instead of two, and to add a little amount of ground hazelnuts to the batter. Then I toasted and caramelized some hazelnuts, sprinkled them on top of the brownie before baking, and added some confectioner’s sugar after the cake had baked and cooled.
The result is very close to what I was looking for, and absolutely delicious. The cake has a rich chocolate taste with an excellent texture, dense and chewey – but not excessively so, and the topping of caramelized hazelnuts is perfect.
I think the main difference was that the Petit Gâteau, being Petit and individual, included slightly more cakey edges : mine was a big cake cut into squares, which necessarily changes the texture somewhat.
I’ll also have to remember that making caramelized hazelnuts is extremely easy, and they would make for a great food gift, golden and crunchy and tasty and sweet, packaged up in a pretty crystal bag.