Monday, December 01, 2008

Torta di Nocciole, Piedmont's and Dante's perennial favorite!

Piemonte is famous for it's cuisine and has an impressive list to call it's own that I like to feature in my quest to make our region more familiar to the general public outside of Italy. So today I have an easy and also a perennial favorite in this house hold that features our beloved native Hazelnut, know in Italian as Torta di Nocciole. it has long been one of my favorite nuts, especially as a baker. It has a delicate and to my mind very elegant ans sophisticated flavor. It's versatility makes it ideal for a variety of cakes, tarts, chocolates, cookies, well, I think you get the picture.
This hazelnut cake has special place in my in-laws hearts and is their latest, favorite of my offerings, as you can see from the photo that I didn't get a picture before we all had devoured a slice.
You find this cake throughout the area, but I tend to associate it with the province of Cuneo and their famous hazelnut groves that not only supply Ferrero Rocher for use in making their Nutella and other chocolate delights, which you will find at every check out stand in Italy during the Christmas season, incidentally, but also for the famous truffles found lurking underneath them.
This recipe comes courtesy of Kyle Philips' Italian Cooking recipe collection and was given to him by one if his friends that he has made in his many years living in Italy. Kyle's blog is a wealth of information on Italian cuisine and culture, with many collected recipes from most of the regions of Italy. Worth checking out when you are stuck for ideas on what to make for dinner, what wine to chose to go along with, or if you are looking for a specific recipe you can't find.
my friends over at who

I am sending this recipe over to BloggerAid, where my blogger friends Val, of More Than Burnt Toast, Ivy, of Kopiaste, and Giz and Psychgrad, of Equal Opportunity Kitchen, have cooked up a wonderful place to share ideas for raising awareness of world hunger and raising money to help alleviate this concern .
http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc193/prouditaliancook/BloggerAid_ribbon_thumb8.jpg
Please click on the link, BloggerAid, to find out more about their mission, and how we all can help. We all know this isn't an easy time for anyone in the world these days, so it is important that we join together and do all that we can to help each other and make sure there is enough food on the table for all. I'll be sharing some of my other favorite suggestions in the next couple of weeks, during this season of giving that doesn't take a fortune to help out others and will make a difference in people's lives, maybe even your own.

So on to this deliciously easy cake that is special enough to serve over the holidays. Original recipe here. As is the case here in Italy anything that rates as a dessert for dinner is fair game for breakfast and this cake fits into that category as well. I completely agree with Kyle's suggestion that the recipe goes by weight and you may find it easier to calculate it, rather than convert it to volumes.
I finish my cake once they have completely cooled with a dusting of powdered sugar using a stencil to make a decorative pattern. You can also use doilies to a similar effect or make your own stencil for a elegant finishing touch.

Torta di Nocciole or Hazelnut cake

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces (250 g) toasted hazelnuts
  • 4 ounces (100 g) Oro Saiwa Cookies (Graham crackers or Petit Burre will do as a substitute)
  • 4 ounces (100 g, 1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces (150 g, 3/4 cup) sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 6 ounces (150 g) dark chocolate at least 65%, rough chopped, but somewhat fine

Preparation:

Whirl the nuts and cookies in a small food processor or blender, until they're a fairly fine powder.
Combine it with the crumbled chocolate.
Cream the sugar and butter and then add the egg yolks, whisking until the mixture is pale yellow.

Preheat your oven to 360 F (180 C).

Whip the whites to soft but firm peaks.
Combine the nut and cookie mixture with the butter mixture, combining thoroughly.
Fold in the whites.
Transfer the batter into a prepared greased and floured, cake pan of sufficient size for the batter to be about an inch deep, around 25 cm or 10-12" pan. I use a cheese cake type pan allowing the sides to be removed. You can also cut a round of baking paper to fit in a non removable bottomed pan for insuring your cakes come out easily.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool partially before moving.
Cool completely before dusting with powdered sugar.
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