swiss hazelnut cake
Lately we have been carefully managing our weakness for cooking magazines
with interesting recipes and the mandatory food porn shots. We discontinued Buon
Appetit after decades as a loyal subscriber, and our occasional supermarket
impulse buy Gourmet Magazine was unexpectedly shut down, ejecting editor Ruth
Reichel into the next phase of her food centered life. The normally tempting
Cucina Italiano mag seems to have escaped our notice for some time now, although
ms ani fell into a one year subscription of Food and Wine to help out a Catholic
school fund raising nephew, but our last chance renewal notice has come and gone
now, so maybe we are over that too, though we found a few good ideas there that
we actually brought to fruition. It is not an insignificant factor that the 21st
century internet coupled with the dominant search engine of our time puts the
world's recipe collection at our fingertips. Google away.
Frankly we never really understood the philosophical differences between
America's Test Kitchen and Cooks Country. We are fans of both PBS shows
and have been known to actually buy an occasional issue of the first show's
magazine Cook's Illustrated, and we love the usual suspects behind both outside
faces of the same beloved food institution. Occasionally they try to entice us
into starting a magazine subscription with a free sample issue in the old
fashioned paper junk mail stream. We take notice. This time it was Cooks
Country, and were moved to try two recipes in a short space of time. First a
baked pasta version of their ziti with sausage and spinach dish, then this
dessert. Their background story speaks of a well-known Italian bakery in
Philadelphia which naturally won't divulge the recipe for its famous Swiss
Hazelnut Cake, so the wise guys at Kimball's kitchen decided to recreate it
based on their infinite knowledge of the fine points of cuisine and a bit of "we
can do this too" bravado.
They claimed to have simplified the amount of work involved in making this
dish, using Fluff brand marshmallow creme as a base for their light icing, but
then go to great lengths to get shaved chocolate to cover the entire surface of
the cake, an effort we could simply never consider doing for its marginal
benefit. We just grated 60 percent bittersweet chocolate over the top of the
cake and a bit on the upper sides with a two person technique tilting the case
as it is rotated, to allow gravity to do its thing, a force well known to pull
objects towards the center of the Earth, or in practical terms, "straight down".
Since we did not seem to have a second 9 inch layer cake pan on hand, and did
not even remember where the first one was offhand, we went with our decades old
unused Angel food cake pan (our favorite childhood cake was white Angel food box
cake with fat laden chocolate shortening and confectioner's sugar icing, often
served for dr bobby birthdays), which also promised easier slicing without
worrying about the pointy slices all meeting in the center of a round cake,
making slice extraction more difficult. This change of pan
required slicing the cooled cake into two layers with our decades old Magic
Knife that has an adjustable guide to get just the right uniform thickness,
except in practice somehow the dr bob application of this device missed the
midpoint. No matter, the result was still acceptable. There remained only the
test of taste to justify this effort.
We put the cake on a pedestal so to speak, our beautiful clear class covered
cake display stand that we acquired somehow (hard to remember how,
since with hindsight it seems pretty frivolous). Ani kept asking about
refrigerating this thing, but that required removal from its pedestal, then
what? bob left it there a few days until the extended family was back at our
place (the glass pedestal does not travel well) on Christmas day for the taste
test. Unanimous positive response. Not too sweet (not even for dessert
indifferent ani), yet light and delightful to chow down. It seemed to resist
molding or other obvious signs of deterioration, so maybe the room temperature
environment was not so dangerous to our health. Oh yeah, the next generation dr
bob cooking school student/nephew Shant collaborated on all steps of this
- 1/2 c (2 oz) skin-on (?) hazelnuts, toasted and cooled
- dry stuff:
1 1/4 c (5 oz) cake flour
- 1 c (7 oz) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 t baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- wet stuff:
- 1/2 c vegetable oil
- 1/4 c water
- 3 large egg yolks, plus 5 large whites
(5 eggs separated, save 2 yolks in the fridge for another destiny)
- 2 1/2 t vanilla extract
- 1/4 t cream of tartar
- 24 T (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 3/4 c (7 oz) confectioners' sugar
- 12 oz (2 2/3 c) Fluff brand marshmallow crème (3/4 of the 16oz
- 2 T hazelnut liqueur container
- 2 oz bittersweet bar chocolate
- Prep the hazelnuts (hasslenuts?) first, toasting them on a cookie sheet at
350 degrees for aobut 10 minutes. Let cool, then crumb in a food processor.
- Cut parchment paper rounds to fit into the bottom of two round 9 inch
cake pans, or the donut shaped Angel food cake pan, which requires a bit
more skill to get the hole right for the center. Spray the parchment paper
bottom(s) but not the sides of the pan(s) with cooking spray.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees at some appropriate point during the
- Whisk together the cake dry stuff in a large bowl.
- Whisk together the cake wet stuff (minus the egg whites and tartar) in a
separate bowl, then whisk the latter into the former (wet into dry) until a
smooth batter is achieved.
- In a KitchenAid stand mixer (or some competing product) fit with a whisk
attachment, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed
until foamy, about a minute, then whip at medium high until soft peaks form,
ybe 2 -- 3 minutes. Our machine only has numbered speeds, so you have to
inject some educated guess about what medium high means.
- Then fold the egg whites into the batter gently, trying to retain the
air content of the whites.
- Pour into your pre-prepared cake pans (equally if using 2), then tap
them on the counter to remove air pockets.
- Bake until tops are light golden brown and the cake(s) spring back when
pressed lightly in center, 25 to 28 minutes for the 2 pan approach, another
20 or so minutes perhaps if the Angel food path is taken, check frequently.
- Let the cake(s) cool in their pan(s) for 15 minutes, then run a knife
around the edges and invert them onto wire rack(s). Discard the parchment
paper and let them cool completely, at least an hour. For the Angel food pan
version, pull the bottom out and run the knife under the parchment paper to
make sure it is released, then invert to remove from the bottom and center
- When ready to make the icing, whip the butter and salt on medium speed
in a stand mixer fit with a clean whisk until smooth, then slowly add
the sugar on low speed, then increase speed to medium and whip until smooth,
about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed..
- Add the marshmallow crème, increase the speed to medium-high, and whip
until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add
the hazelnut liqueur, return the speed to medium-high, and whip to
incorporate, about 30 seconds.
- Assembly time. Cut the Angel food cake into two layers if doing that
variation, use your imagination, it doesn't have to be perfect. Put the
lower layer onto your cake plate and ice the top with about 1/3 of the icing
then place the second layer in place and ice the top and sides. Figure this
part out yourself.
- Then put about an ounce or two of the chocolate bar broken or cut into
pieces that fit into a rotating cheese grater and grate away over the top.
If you have a partner, try to tilt the cake to get some on the sides. If you
really love chocolate, you can add more. "To taste" is the key word pair
here. If you are into food masochism, look up the original recipe for their
intense chocolate adhesion process.
- Cook's Country
Hazelnut Cake [Dec/Jan
2016]. Following our earlier harvested
- America's Test Kitchen.The
usual suspects behind these entertaining mags are
- Skin on hazelnuts? They claimed that after
roasting and cooling and crumbing, the skin flecks contribute to the
speckled texture of the cake, but we didn't buy it, just get skinless or
partially skinned hazelnuts (think Trader Joe's) and forget it. We roasted
them about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, then tried to cool them down quickly
in the freezer until we could wait no longer, then jammed them in the food
processor, making way too many crumbs, the excess of which ended up in a
zip-locked bag in the fridge.
- Illustrations available.