Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Cake Recipe

Orange_hazelnut_cake

Classical oriental fragrances like Guerlain Shalimar (1925) used a large amount of citrus oil (30% bergamot oil in case of Shalimar) supported by a lush base of animalic and woody notes. The effect of this dramatic juxtaposition is unforgettable—the scintillating, icy chill of citrus melting into the languid warmth of the amber accord, rich civet and leathery castoreum. Such contrasting sensations not only serve to lend an intriguing and memorable quality, but also to lighten the intoxicating richness of the classical oriental notes—vanilla, benzoin, tolu, opoponax, civet, ambergris, castoreum, musk, sandalwood, and patchouli. The new generation of gourmand fragrances based on the chocolate accord has taken a similar approach—the heft of chocolate can be made more palatable when accented with bright and sparkling notes, be it the lemony jasmine of hedione and bergamot in Thierry Mugler Angel, the orange blossom in Missoni Eau de Parfum, or green ivy leaves in Lolita Lempicka Eau de Parfum. …

In the culinary arts, the pairing of orange and chocolate has gained classical status for the same reason that it is explored in perfumery. The marriage of sweet citrus and rich and bitter chocolate produces an intriguing sensation on the palate. The initial bright burst of orange is soon counteracted with the warm and lingering darkness of chocolate. It is as if its flavor notes—the animalic tinge of jasmine, the nutty richness, the coffee redolent bitterness and the honeyed sweetness—are thrown into relief against the tart citrus.

The recipe I would like to offer as an illustration was inspired by the magnificent brownies I discovered in Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé, a book devoted solely to chocolate creations by one of the greatest pastry chefs. He was even dubbed the Picasso of Pastry. These brownies became my standby dessert option, given their effortless and quick preparation. Little by little, I started to experiment with the basic recipe by adding different flavorings and nuts. The simplicity of the recipe belies its ability to showcase the beauty of the ingredients—chocolate, nuts and orange.

Hazelnut Orange Chocolate Cake Recipe

Ingredients
Serves 6-8

5 oz (145g) bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa such as Lindt, Valrhona)
2 ¼ sticks (260g) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 eggs
zest of 1 organic orange
1 ¼ cups (250g) sugar
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cup (145g) hazelnuts
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Toast hazelnuts till they turn golden, about 10 minutes. Rub skins off, set aside to cool and then coarsely grind the nuts.

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heatproof bowl or a small pot. Set the bowl over the pot of boiling water and melt the chocolate. Let it cool until it is warm to the touch (not scalding).

Cream the butter, then stir in the chocolate and the orange zest. Add eggs, one by one. Then add the sugar, salt, flour, and nuts. Stir until all of the ingredients are incorporated. This batter should remain smooth, rather than aerated, therefore do not be overly enthusiastic when mixing it.

Butter a 9 inch spring form and sprinkle it with flour. Pour the batter into the form and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top of the cake is dry. I prefer my cake to be fudge like, with a decadently luscious and melting center, but you can bake it until the cake firms all the way through.

Photo © Bois de Jasmin.

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9 Comments

  • Jupiterbelt: Thanks for the wonderful recipe. My favorite way of using chocolate is to flavor my truffles with blood orange zest and rose water. The combination is truly narcotic: please give it a try in the near future. April 6, 2007 at 1:29am Reply

  • annE: This recipe looks luscious, and I will definitely try it! Ever since trying Hermé’s version of chocolate sauce from his first book, I’ve used no other. His technique is amazing.

    Michelle, great article in P&F, too! And thanks to V for the link to the subscription! April 6, 2007 at 8:49am Reply

  • Marina: Sinfully scrumptious! I have no chocolate at home and I got rid of my Fleurs de Chocolate 🙂 Woe is me! April 6, 2007 at 9:16am Reply

  • Elle: Sounds divine! I thought that cookbook sounded familiar and went to check my bookshelves. Embarrassingly enough, I have it, but have never once made anything from it. Since DH lives for chocolate and I adore hazelnuts, will start to remedy that w/ this cake. April 6, 2007 at 10:33am Reply

  • Robin: Could hardly read your article, my eyes were so riveted on the picture. Now I’m starving. The best I can rustle up at the moment is a stale bag of Paul Newman chocolate chip cookies, which simply don’t cut it. April 6, 2007 at 11:22am Reply

  • ~vanilla girl~: Yummy! Victoria…my mouth waters looking at this pic,and my weakness are brownies,must give this lovely recipe a try!
    thank you! 🙂 April 6, 2007 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Karin: That is a beautiful presentation, Victoria. It looks fab! April 6, 2007 at 3:03pm Reply

  • Cynthia K: I loved the intro on the oriental perfumes. Interesting about Shalimar! April 9, 2007 at 11:05am Reply

  • Mike P: Don’t forget the newest chocolate/orange/gourmand combo: Elixir des Merveiles by Hermes – one of my top 10 comfort scents. April 9, 2007 at 11:21am Reply

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