I recently had some friends over for lunch and I made this very European hazelnut cake. It was definitely a labor of love but worth every minute.
I bought some hazelnuts when I was in Chicago a few months ago and ever since then have been searching for the perfect recipe to use them in. I finally found the recipe for this cake in a Martha Stewart Living magazine from 2006.
First, I had to blanch the hazelnuts by toasting them in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. After toasting them I rubbed the nuts, a handful at a time, in a textured kitchen towel to remove the skins. Then I made a hazelnut toffee to sprinkle in between the layers and on top the cake. The cake itself is a spongy cake made with cake flour and nine eggs that are separated. The toasted and ground hazelnuts as well as an equal amount of toasted and ground walnuts get folded into the cake batter. In between each layer is a hazelnut syrup (sugar and hazelnut liqueur), the hazelnut toffee, and a caramel-cream filling (sugar, cream, milk, egg yolks). The cake was very well received by my guests, especially my Austrian friend, who said it reminded her of the cakes she use to get in Austria. (A very fine compliment to me.)
The funniest comment was from Keith, who upon returning home and seeing the leftover cake in the fridge said, " Where did that big cheese sandwich come from?"