This is a rich moist cake with a shiny glossy icing which makes a wonderful dessert cake. The cake can be made and iced a day ahead which makes it perfect for a party.

The ingredients:

  • Unsalted butter is less aggressively flavoured than the salted variety and its more delicate flavour suits the chocolate and hazelnuts very well
  • Best quality chocolate is needed here to give an unrelentingly full flavoured cake.
  • 185g hazelnuts
  • 185g  unsalted butter
  • 185g chocolate, 62% cocoa solids
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 185g caster sugar

Icing:

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 175g chocolate, 62% cocoa solids
  • 2 tablespoons of very strong coffee

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c / 375f / gas 5.
  2. Line a 25.5 cm spring form tin with a disc of parchment paper and brush the sides with a light but thorough coating of melted butter.
  3. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and put in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes until the nuts are roasted to a golden colour and the skins are starting to lift. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When the nuts are cooled place in a clean tea towel and rub the bottom of the towel around on the palm of your hand. The skins will start to lift off the nuts.
  4. Remove as much of the skins as you can, but they may be little flecks of skin that will not budge and that's ok. Grind the peeled hazelnuts to a coarse powder in a food processor. 
  5. Place the butter and chocolate in a heavy pyrex bowl and put over a saucepan of cold water on a very low heat. Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Allow to melt gently.
  6. At the same time, put the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat to light and pale consistency while the chocolate is melting.
  7. When the chocolate and butter have melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan and stir with a rubber spatula to achieve a smooth and silky consistency. Allow to cool for 3 minutes and then mix gently but thoroughly into the egg yolk and sugar mixture. Mix in the hazelnuts.
  8. Place the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl and beat to a stiff peak. Stir a fifth of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten it slightly before gently folding in the rest with a rubber spatula. Make sure all of the egg white is properly folded into the chocolate mixture.  
  9. Pour the mixture in to the tin and gently smooth the top of the mixture. Do not bang tin.
  10. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 170c / 325 / gas 3 and cook for a further 30 minutes.
  11.  Do not be alarmed if there is a crack in the top of the cake as this will seal up as the cake cools, and what is now the top ends up as the bottom ,well out of view and all in all very forgiving.
  12. Remove the tin from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Place a slightly damp cloth over the top of the tin and allow to cool completely. The cake will collapse slightly indicating a soft and luscious texture.

Chocolate cake

The icing:

  1. While the cake is cooling, make the icing.
  2. Place the chocolate and coffee in a pyrex bowl and melt as before, starting it off over a saucepan of cold water. Remove from the heat when nearly melted, stir with a rubber spatula and allow to cool for 8 minutes. Now whisk in the diced butter, 3 or 4 pieces at a time. A hand held electric mixer is best for this, but failing that a balloon whisk will do very well. Do not add the next lot of butter until the previous addition has been completely incorporated. Gradually the icing should start to thicken slightly. The finished consistency should be spreadable like soft but not melted butter.
  3. If the icing becomes runny, it means you have added the butter too quickly. If this happens, place the runny icing in the fridge to chill. Stir it regularly and gradually it will thicken to a spreadable consistency. 
  4. To remove the cake from the tin- the cake should still be slightly warm, run a blunt kitchen knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the edges. Unclip the tin to remove the sides. Invert the cake on to a large flat plate. The bottom of the cake has now become the top. Remove the disc of parchment paper and allow to cool completely before spreading on the glossy icing over the sides and top of the cake with a palate knife.
  5. The cake is now ready to be served or will keep quiet happily until the next day, in fact it will still be tasting good in a couple of days time. I prefer not to refrigerate the cake, but to keep it in the coolest part of the kitchen. Clearly if it is high summer, and you can't find a cool spot in the kitchen, you will have to chill it.
  6. Serve the cake in small slices with softly whipped cream or in the case of this cake I find that it can stand up to the aggressive nature of crème fraiche.