This Italian hazelnut chocolate cake is made with only four ingredients, is naturally gluten free and dairy free, but tastes sublime! It’s a perfect Valentine’s Day cake, too.
The simplicity of this ancient Italian recipe (my version of it) is only part of the attraction of this cake. Its soft, delicious texture enhances the flavor of the hazelnuts and cocoa.
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I recently returned from Italy with bags of Italian IGP Piedmont hazelnuts in tow, and wanted to do them justice in a proper Italian recipe.
I had been working on my Bicerin post, and saw a cake on the Il Bicerin site which caught my eye: torta di nocciole con cioccolata calda e panna (hazelnut cake with hot chocolate sauce and cream)!
Oh goodness, it looked insanely good, so I started searching for Italian recipes for “torta di nocciole”. Oh, and by the way, have you been watching Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy series? He’s off to Turin on this next episode and visits Al Bicerin!
It’s amazing how much you can learn in a short time when surfing the worldwide web. I learned that this cake is one of the most well-loved cakes of the Piedmont region, including Turin, and for good reason: this is where the best hazelnuts in the world are grown and harvested. I know, because I’ve actually gone truffle-hunting in a hazelnut grove in Piedmont!
My research uncovered a basic recipe shared over many sites for torta di nocciole, all of which included hazelnuts, flour, sugar, whole eggs, yeast, and butter, but no cocoa.
However, there was one site (and cake) that really caught my eye on the TASTËLANGHE website. There was no recipe, just the photo of a hazelnut cake, the description, ingredients, options to purchase the cake (from Italy) and loads of amazing reviews. That was the cake I wanted! It also looked most like the cake on the Al Bicerin site where I’d originally seen the hazelnut cake! One phone call to my Torinesa (from Turin) friend Lucia, from Turin Epicurian Capital, who confirmed the cake’s famous history and appeal, and I was set.
Based on the ingredient list, I calculated a recipe, and gave it a try. Goodness, this cake was absolutely divine! (As I stated earlier, this is a wonderful cake to make for Valentine’s Day.)
If you love nuts, this coffee and walnut cake is for you!
Of course, using Piedmont hazelnuts is going to make the cake taste and smell incredibly good. However, in the name of good recipe writing, I made another with hazelnuts which I purchased on Amazon (from Turkey) and it was still a showstopper.
A neighbor swooned over the cake, and everyone who tried it was a huge fan.
It rather reminded me of the reactions to this decadent flourless chocolate torte, when I first made it!
Trust me, it’s worth the calories! Now, I just need to take a trip to Turin to see how my recipe stacks up against the original, but even if it doesn’t, I won’t be disappoined. (I do not have the original recipe, and do not claim to know what it is.) You can find the link to the website below and order the cake straight from the source if you live within their shipping constraints.
I highly recommend using a scale for this recipe in order for the cake to turn out properly.
Hazelnut Chocolate Cake Recipe from Piedmont
(Torta di Nocciole)
based on a cake that is sold from TASTËLANGHE adapted by Christina Conte serves 12
FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE BELOW
- hazelnuts, roasted and peeled (preferably IGP from Piedmont, but any good quality hazelnuts will do)
- egg whites
Oven temperature: 350ºF (175ºC)
Prepare the dry Ingredients
Add the hazelnuts into a food processor.
Add the sugar, and process until a fine grind is obtained. Don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with hazelnut butter.
In a medium-sized bowl, stir the hazelnut and sugar mixture with the cocoa until uniform in color.
Prepare the Egg Whites
Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
Combine the Ingredients
Gently fold the nut mixture into the beaten egg whites until thoroughly combined. DO NOT OVERMIX. Carefully pour into a greased, floured and lined (with parchment paper on the bottom only) 8″ springform pan.
Bake the Hazelnut Chocolate Cake
Place in middle of preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the pan and remove from the tin. Remove the parchment paper and place on cooling rack to cool completely
Serve Hazelnut Chocolate Cake One of Two Ways
1. Plain (great with a Bicerin) and a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.
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- 300 g (about 3 cups) toasted, peeled hazelnuts (preferably IGP from Piedmont, but any good quality hazelnuts will do)
- 150 g (1 1/4 c) sugar
- 2 Tbsp (14 g) dark, unsweetened cocoa
- 4 egg whites
- Butter and flour an 8" springform pan (with parchment paper lining the bottom.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F (176 C)
- Grind hazelnuts with sugar until fine. Place in bowl.
- Add cocoa to the ground hazelnuts and sugar.
- Beat egg whites until they come to stiff peaks.
- Gently fold the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites. Be careful not to over mix, but make sure they are thoroughly combined.
- Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
- Allow to cool in pan for about 15 minutes, then run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the pan and remove from the tin. Remove the parchment paper and place on cooling rack to cool completely.
- Serve when cold, plain, with a Bicerin. Otherwise, serve with a warm chocolate sauce and freshly whipped, unsweetened cream.
PLEASE USE A SCALE FOR BEST RESULTS. Weighing the ingredients is important.
TIP: Using IGP hazelnuts from Piedmont, Italy, will yield the best results/flavor, however they are quite expensive and hard to find in the US. Try to use the tastiest hazelnuts you can find, and the cake is still truly delicious.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 219Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 18mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 3gSugar: 14gProtein: 5g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
- 1 cup (237 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup (237 g) good quality chocolate, chopped, or chips, callets, etc.
- Put the cream into a small pot over medium low heat.
- Add the chocolate pieces, callets, chips or whatever you’re using (just don’t add huge chunks or it won’t melt quickly enough).
- Stir quickly touching the bottom of the pan to ensure the chocolate doesn’t stick.
- Within a minute or two, you’ll start to get a smooth, thick consistency forming. Turn off the heat at this point and continue stirring until completely smooth and glossy.
- You can add more hot cream if you want a less thick sauce, but I prefer it with the original 1:1 ratio. See how rich, thick and glossy it is? Perfection!
- Use as desired. Keep leftover sauce refrigerated for up to one week.
- Use on ice cream, desserts, cheesecake, banana splits.
- Dip fruit, marshmallow, cookies or cake into it like fondue.
- Roll into balls when cool to make truffles.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 48Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 27mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 1g
Nutrition information is only estimated.
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