Friday, June 28, 2024


Summer is officially here in the Northern hemisphere, and late evening gatherings simply call for indulging in delightful cakes such as this one. The toasted hazelnuts embellish the cake with a delightful, warm, earthy flavour that complements perfectly the deep, intense flavours of dark chocolate. Truffle-like chocolate cake, rich and smooth hazelnut fudge frosting, and a shiny chocolate glaze make this wonderful little cake a true velvety treat.
My tips for success
It truly is best to use toasted hazelnuts for this type of cakes, because they have the most flavour, but even blanched will work well, even though the cake will be milder in flavour and somewhat lighter in colour.
When it comes to baking, always use the written instructions as a guideline, honouring your baking equipment first and foremost. You know your oven best, and if it runs a bit hotter, the cake will be done sooner. Always check with a toothpick to make sure it is done, but not dry.
This cake is really meant to be served straight out of the pan, but if you want to transfer it to a nice cake platter and decorate it further, it is absolutely possible. After chilling overnight, simply remove it with the parchment, gently and carefully remove the parchment, and place it on the platter. Alternatively, if you are certain that that is how you want to serve it, you can remove the parchment once the cake is cool, and simply place it on the cake platter, closing a square cake form around it, and then proceeding with the recipe.

For the vegan chocolate cake
200 grams plain flour
50 grams toasted hazelnuts, ground
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
10 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
120 grams light brown sugar
65 millilitres vegetable oil
200 millilitres boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the rich vegan hazelnut frosting
350 millilitres soy milk, cold
40 grams cornflour
30 grams plain flour
50 grams dark brown sugar
100 grams vegan block butter, cubed
60 grams hazelnut butter
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
For the dark chocolate glaze
100 grams dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
40 grams vegan block butter
30 millilitres soy milk

Start by making the hazelnut fudge filling, as it needs a bit of time to cool down and set. Sift together the flour and cornflour into a heavy saucepan, add in the sugar, and mix very well. Pour in the cold soy milk and the vanilla, whisk well, and place the pan over medium heat. Let it heat up slowly, and as soon as it starts to simmer, start stirring. Cook, stirring constantly for about 2-3 minutes, or until thickened and glossy.
Remove from heat, add in the vegan block butter, vanilla, and the hazelnut butter, and whisk until incorporated. At this point, you can use a hand mixer or an immersion blender if you find it easier. Once blended, cover the top with a piece of cling film or baking parchment, and set it aside to cool down to room temperature.
Next, make the fudge cake. Set the oven to preheat to 180°C. Sift the cocoa powder into a small bowl, add in the espresso powder, and pour in about 50 millilitres of boiling water over it. Mix briefly, and let it bloom. Take a large bowl, add in the sugar and the rest of the hot water, mix well, and set it aside so the sugar starts to melt.
Add in the oil, vanilla, and the cocoa powder, and mix very well. Tip in the plain flour, ground hazelnuts, and the baking powder, and whisk until just blended.
Take a medium rectangle baking pan (18x18 cm), and line it with baking parchment. Pour in the batter and tap it very lightly on the counter to remove any large bubbles. Bake immediately, in a nicely preheated oven, at 180°C, for about 15 minutes or so. Once a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean, it is done. Remove it from the oven, and let it cool down to room temperature in the pan.
Once the cake and the filling are cool to the touch, mix the filling with an electric mixer on high for a minute or so, until smooth and creamy. Spread it all over the top of the cake, levelling it as much as possible. Place the whole pan in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably two.
When the filling is somewhat firm to the touch, make the chocolate glaze by melting together the dark chocolate, vegan block butter, and soy milk over low heat. Once melted, let it cool down for a few moments, glaze the top of the cake, and return it to the refrigerator for at least 6 more hours, preferably overnight. Yields 9 rich servings.