Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache

We were invited to a friends house for Kevin's sister's birthday dinner and I (of course!) offered to make dessert. What to make the birthday girl? She's a bit of a foodie and a great baker herself, so I wanted something other than your typical birthday cake. A search on all my favorite blogs ensued until the perfect recipe was found. Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache. Thank you, Smitten Kitchen. It was a hit!


5 ounces (about 1 heaping cup) hazelnuts, blanched to remove skins (or just pick the skinless ones out of the bag, like I did!)
1/2 pound unsalted butter (plus 1 Tbsp melted for greasing the pan)
1/2 vanilla bean (I used 1 tsp pure vanilla extract instead)
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
6 large egg whites
3 Tbsp granulated sugar

4ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast  12-15 minutes, until they are golden brown . Let them cool. While the nuts are toasting, cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan. Brush the pan with a little melted butter and line the bottom with paper (which I buttered too, just to be sure there would be no sticking).

Place  the rest of the butter and vanilla in a medium saucepan and cook the butter until it browns and smells nutty,  about 6-8 minutes, frequently scraping the bottom of the pan. Set aside and let cool. (remove the vanilla pod if you used the bean and not extract)

Grind the hazelnuts with the confectioners sugar in a  food processor (I used my blender) until finely ground. Add the flour and pulse to combine.
Beat egg whites and granulated sugar on high speed 4-5 minutes, until very stiff peaks form. Alternate folding the dry ingredients and the brown butter into the egg whites, a third of each at a time. Scrape the bottom of the brown butter pan to get all the brown bits.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour (mine was done in 50). Cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, make the Ganache. Melt the chocolate and heavy cream in the top of a double boiler over simmering water (two saucepans stacked will work!) until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake. Enjoy a slice of heaven, even if it's not your birthday!


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