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Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

To toast nuts:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake about 15 minutes or until nuts are brown and fragrant and the skins start to peel. Remove from oven and place a clean dish towel over nuts. Let them 'steam' for about five minutes and then rub the nuts to remove the skins. Let cool then place in a food processor, along with the flour and salt, and process until finely ground. 

To make Torte: Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line the bottom of an 8 x 3 inch (20 x 7.5 cm) round cake pan or springform pan with parchment paper.

Separate the eggs while they are still cold, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and allow to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter. Remove from heat and set aside.  

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks with 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar until pale and thick (about 3 - 5 minutes). (When you raise the beaters the mixture will slowly fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.) Beat in the vanilla extract. With a rubber spatula gently fold in the warm chocolate mixture and the nut and flour mixture. Set aside while you whip the egg whites.

In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, at medium speed, until foamy and then add the cream of tartar. Continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar, beating at high speed until egg whites are stiff but not dry. With a large spatula or whisk, fold a small amount of the whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it. Quickly fold in the remaining whites. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake shows moist crumbs. Cool the torte completely in the pan on a wire rack. It will rise and then fall in the center, leaving a higher rim of cake around the sides and there will also be some cracking and crumbs. Once the torte has cooled completely remove from pan. Serve with softly whipped cream.

Note: Can cover the torte with ganache if desired (recipe here).

Serves 10 - 12.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte:

1/2 cup (70 grams) hazelnuts

1/4 cup (30 grams) all purpose flour 

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

6 ounces (170 grams) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated white sugar  (divided)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Note:  Cream of tartar is used when whipping eggs whites to help stabilize them, and to prevent them from drying out and being over beaten.