Hazelnut Cake with Caramelized Hazelnuts
Tis’ the season for Turrón! Spain’s iconic nut-studded honey nougat Christmas candy is transformed into a tender, buttery, almond-hazelnut cake topped with freshly whipped vanilla cream, candied hazelnuts, a drizzle of honey, and a final sprinkle of sea salt to perfectly balance the sweetness.
From the Boqueria Cookbook
Prep: 1 hour
Total: 1½ hours, plus cooling
Hazelnut Cake with Caramelized Hazelnuts:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
all-purpose flour for dusting
3 ½ ounces hazelnut praline
3 large eggs
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 ¼ cups almond flour
Vanilla Whipped Cream (recipe follows), for serving
Caramelized Hazelnuts (recipe follows), for serving
honey, for drizzling
store-bought Dulce de Leche ice cream, for serving
Maldon salt flakes, for sprinkling
Vanilla Whipped Cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 tbsp clarified butter
For the Vanilla Whipped Cream:
Combine the cream, vanilla seeds and pod, and sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then remove from the heat. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Refrigerate until very cold, preferably overnight.
Whisk the cold cream by hand until very soft peaks form. Makes 2 cups. Use immediately.
For the Caramelized Hazelnuts:
Combine the sugar and ¼ cup water in a large, deep saucepan. Cook without stirring on high heat until the mixture bubbles like lava. Add the hazelnuts and stir well, then remove from the heat. Keep stirring until the sugar caramelizes into a powdery coating on the nuts. Continue stirring while shaking the pan until the nuts are evenly coated.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to another saucepan, leaving the sugar in the first saucepan. Add the clarified butter to the nuts and set over low heat.
Cook, stirring the nuts and shaking the pan until the sugar melts again and the nuts are caramelized. Using a spoon, immediately transfer them to a sheet of parchment paper, leaving any excess butter in the pan.
Use two spoons to quickly and carefully separate the nuts on the parchment paper. Be careful: they’re very hot. Cool completely on the parchment, then break apart any nuts that are still stuck together. Chop the nuts coarsely. Makes 1 cup.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Generously butter an 8-inch-diameter, 2-inch-deep Cake pan. Dust with flour and tap out excess.
Combine the butter and hazelnut praline in a large heatproof bowl. Set over a saucepan of simmering water and melt the butter. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and whisk until as smooth as possible. Let cool to room temperature.
Beat the eggs with the whisk attachment of an electric stand mixer on medium-high speed until well blended. Add the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time so it doesn’t fly everywhere. Raise the speed to high and beat until the mixture is a pale cream color and has tripled in volume, about 10 minutes.
Transfer one-third of the beaten eggs to the butter mixture and whisk gently until smooth. Add the remaining beaten eggs and very gently fold in with a spatula until incorporated. You don’t want to deflate the mixture. Very gently fold in the almond flour until thoroughly incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Gently tap the pan against a work surface to smooth and flatten the top.
Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Unmold when warm or at room temperature.
To plate, cut the cake in quarters and put one quarter on each serving plate. Plop a scoop of whipped cream on each piece. Add the caramelized hazelnuts, then drizzle with honey and lightly sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Serve immediately with a scoop of ice cream on the side.
Chef’s tips: If you want to make this dessert gluten-free, use nonstick cooking spray to coat the cake pan instead of butter or flour. You can buy hazelnut praline online or in specialty shops.
Enjoy your delicious and decadent turrón with family and friends!