It was the big family get together this last weekend, which is always a good excuse to break out the food magazines and cookbooks and find something delicious to make.
Something chocolate and decadent called my name this time around, and I certainly found it in this Chocolate & Hazelnut Torta Caprese recipe from Delicious Magazine, (August 2019). This iconic Italian cake, named for the island of Capri, was deliciousness personified. While the cake is traditionally made with almonds, this version subbed in hazelnuts which I thought was a great call – personally I don’t think you can go past the pairing of hazelnuts and chocolate – they truly are a match made in heaven.
By the way, if you can’t source hazelnut meal, don’t despair. I simply bought hazelnuts from the supermarket, roasted them and then processed them (skin and all) until they resembled a coarse meal. While you don’t actually have to roast them, that one extra step ensures a sweeter, more flavoursome and crunchier nut, so well worth the extra 10 minutes.
As someone pointed out, the cake is kind of like a fancy brownie, which is a fair call. Like a brownie, it is deeply moist, so long as you don’t overcook it. The dark bitter-sweet chocolate is, not surprisingly, the pervading flavour, but the hazelnuts provide much of the interest in terms of texture. Their distinctive sweet flavour is further enhanced by the addition of Frangelico liqueur.
You absolutely MUST pair the cake with the densely creamy mascarpone cream and the sweet, red wine roasted strawberries. The latter were a revelation – who knew that strawberries doused in red wine could be so utterly divine?! Combined with the tangy mascarpone, they do a superlative job of balancing out the overall sweetness of the cake.
You’ll be happy to know that this Chocolate & Hazelnut Torta Caprese is a breeze to make and is pretty much fail-safe. That said, it’s undoubtedly a show-stopper of a cake and definitely a good one to pull out when company calls. Enjoy!
- 180g dark (70%) chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup (125ml) light olive oil** (or use a flavourless cooking oil instead)
- 1 tbs Galliano or Frangelico
- 4 eggs, at room temperature, separated
- 1 cup (220g) caster sugar
- 21/2 cups (250g) hazelnut meal*
- 3 tsp good-quality cocoa, to dust
- Mascarpone, to serve
- 500g strawberries, hulled
- 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
- 1/4 cup (60ml) red wine
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease a 20cm springform cake pan and line the base and side with baking paper.
- Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water, stirring occasionally (make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water).
- Stir in olive oil and liqueur, then set aside to cool.
- Place egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer with paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until pale and creamy. Reduce speed to low and beat in hazelnut meal, then chocolate mixture. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Place egg whites and a pinch of salt flakes in the cleaned mixer bowl. Using the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites to stiff peaks.
- Using the paddle attachment and on low speed, add chocolate mixture and beat until just combined. The mixture will be firm so mix slowly (I actually added in a good dollop of the egg whites to the chocolate mixture first to slacken the mixture first before slowly beating in the remainder of the whites as per the recipe).
- Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until top is slightly cracked and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out with moist crumbs attached. It should have a slight wobble.
- Remove from oven and cool in pan for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- For roasted strawberries, increase oven to 180°C.
- Place strawberries in a large bowl, add sugar and red wine. Add vanilla pod and seeds.
- Place mixture into a baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until strawberries are soft, then cool to room temperature.
- Dust cake with cocoa powder. Serve with mascarpone and strawberries and drizzle over with the strawberry juice.
**Light olive oil is flavourless - don't use Extra Virgin Olive Oil, as this is too strongly flavoured. As a substitute, use a flavourless vegetable oil instead.
Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Sigma 30mm 1.4 DC ‘Art’ lens / Natural lighting