Chocolate hazelnut torte

Get ready folks!  This one is a four bowl-er!!

A family supper at Mom's had me in the dessert planning mode again.  I recalled with fond memories this chocolate hazelnut number that I had made a couple of times at my shop in Pawtucket RI for the Saturday morning farmers market.  Definitely delicious and worth the extra effort to make.

It's very important to plan ahead and do your mise en place for this recipe - pan preparation, butter at room temperature, chopping and melting chocolate, dividing the sugar (pay attention to the recipe!) separating eggs and understanding all the steps of beating and mixing before the whole shebang goes into the pan and the oven.  

The ingredients:

227 g/8 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
215 g/1 cup sugar, divided, plus more for pan prep
227 g/8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
175 g/1.25 cup hazelnut flour
35 g/0.25 cup all purpose flour
16 g/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

The process:

Heat the oven to 375ºF.  Butter a 9" springform pan, place a parchment round on the bottom, butter the parchment and sprinkle with sugar.

Melt the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a bowl over a bain marie, stirring periodically until smooth; remove from the bain marie and let cool slightly.

In a medium bowl whisk together the hazelnut flour, all purpose flour, cocoa powder, salt and 1/4 cup sugar.

In a mixer with the paddle attachment beat butter with 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. 

Add egg yolks, one by one, blending in each addition before adding the next. Beat in vanilla.

Here are the four bowls at this point:

Blend in melted chocolate then gradually add in dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.

In a clean bowl with clean beaters or whisk attachment beat egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.

Now down to two bowls!

With a rubber spatula fold 1/3 of the whites into the chocolate batter to loosen it (NOTE: it can get pretty dense as the chocolate cools so don't dilly-dally!). Fold in the remaining whites just until combined.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 20 minutes then reduce the oven temp to 350ºF and bake an additional 30-40 minutes.  The top should look dry and may crack a bit and a skewer inserted in the center should come out clean.

Let cool about 20 minutes then unmold and cool completely.

Once cooled I decided to glaze it with some leftover ganache I had in the fridge.  I gently warmed the ganache until spreadable and gave the top some cover.

Time for dessert!

My vanilla ice cream fait à la maison, a narrow slice of heaven and a sprinkle of crisp chocolate pearls:

Smooth ganache, dense moist crumb, lovely chocolate-hazelnut balance, cool-creamy ice cream and just a little crunch thrown in.  Yes. 

Give it a try!

Now here's an interesting one - roasted banana ice cream

When I first read this recipe in the book the new sugar and spice, I thought - wow!  What a great way to use up ripe bananas.

It sounded intriguing so I went for it.

We had a bunch of bananas sitting around, not getting any younger, so I peeled them, broke them up and froze them in a ziploc bag until I was ready.

The ice cream base is pretty standard, using cream, sugar and egg yolks, although the sugar comes in at the banana roasting stage rather than during the making of the crème anglaise.

Whereas the recipe calls for 3 cups of heavy cream for the dairy, I used whole milk for one of the cups.  I decided to follow the standard formula in a David Lebovitz recipe that I've been using for years and has always turned out well.

The first step is to heat 2 cups of the dairy with 2 scraped vanilla beans (seeds and pods) and let it steep for an hour or so.

Then in an ovenproof skillet, melt 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, add 100 grams dark brown sugar and 3 tablespoons water. My bananas had been frozen, so during the thaw some juice was created which I used in place of some of the water (Samantha's tip!).

getting ready
Add the bananas and toss them to coat . . . .

then put the skillet in a preheated 450º oven.

Bake the bananas until bubbling and the bananas have broken down.

after the oven
Then purée the roasted bananas (I used a blender) and put them in a medium bowl to cool.  Place a strainer over the banana bowl.

Now this is where I became a tad concerned.  The puréed mixture looked absolutely awful and totally unappealing.

oh my!

But not to be swayed I was determined to see this through.  My hope was that once the purée was mixed into the ice cream base and processed, it would lighten up and not have such a dirty, ugly brown color!

Turning back to the ice cream base, I put 6 large egg yolks in a bowl along with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, poured a portion of the warm vanilla bean infused dairy over the yolks, whisking away.  The mixture is then returned to the heat and cooked while stirring until just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  I took it to about 82ºC.

Strain the mixture into the bowl containing the banana puree and whisk in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and the third cup of dairy.

Cool this over on ice bath, whisking periodically.

phew! looks better already
Chill the base in the fridge over night.

When you're ready to process the base, have 142 grams/5 oz bittersweet chocolate chopped and ready to go.

ready to start churning
At the end of processing add in the chopped chocolate to blend.

looking pretty good
Put the ice cream in a container and freeze until firm (I usually do this a day or two ahead of when I plan to serve it).  Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream to prevent crystallization during freezer storage.

The final product looked just fine and tasted good too.  My only complaint was it seemed a bit icy and not as creamy as I would have liked.

Perhaps the fact that I replaced one cup of cream in the recipe with whole milk, in addition to the moisture in the banana puree, was enough to create the icier texture.

Steve had NO problem with it, but then he's a sucker for ice cream in any way, shape or form!