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Saturday, 24 March 2012

Chocolate Espresso Cake

This is a Nigel Slater recipe, one of two of his I really like(click here for the other).  This is an easy, beat the butter and sugar, add the eggs type of cake that almost any baker should be able to knock out.  The flavourings here are a lovely combination of hazlenuts and chocolate, beloved of the Nutella fans.  Well, this is a grown up version of those tastes in a cake that is easy to make as it has no frosting or icing.  As he says "It is moist enough as it is, but if it is to be dessert, then I would want a dollop of creme fraiche with it too!"  Agreed!

Two things to note here, the hazelnuts must be dry roasted and ground.  I, ahem, have a special grinder for nuts and spices, separate from my coffee grinder.  But if you have a coffee grinder, use that and even if it takes on some of the flavour of old coffee, so much the better.  Otherwise it is hard to get the nuts fine enough.  Also he says to chop the chocolate into "what looks like coarse gravel"  Well your guess is as good as mine.  I like some very finely chopped so that it melts into the cake and some in largish lumps, so that you find them while munching through.

Does it keep well............ I never have been able to find out!

Nigel Slaters Chocolate Espresso Cake

250g/8oz butter (soft, out of the fridge or give it a quick blast in the microwave 15secs or so)
250g/8oz caster sugar
75g/3oz hazelnuts
120g/4 oz dark chocolate
4 large eggs
125g/4oz Self raising flour
4 teaspoons of strong hot espresso (I used two teaspoons of instant Gold Blend dissolved in boiling water)

Set oven to 180c/350f.  You will need a round cake tin 21/23cm.  The smaller one will be higher, but both sizes work ok.  Either grease your tin or line it with parchment paper.

Toast the hazelnuts in a fry pan over a moderate heat then rub them in a tea towel until most of the shins have flaked off.  Don't sweat the small stuff, you just want most of the skins removed.  Grind the nuts to a coarse powder, less fine than ground almonds, but finer that if you chopped them by hand.  Chop the chocolate.

Beat the butter and sugar together until it is whiter and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition.  For the last two eggs, you might need to add a tablespoon or two of the sifted flour.  When all the eggs are in, fold in the remaining flour.  Add the chopped nuts, the chopped chocolate and the coffee.

 Fold everything, gently but thouroughly together, taking care not to knock out the air.  Scoop it into your prepared tin, smooth it down and bake it for 45 minutes, covering the cake with foil, if it starts getting too brown for the last 15 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and test with a knife, a cocktail stick or a skewer.  It should come out clean without any uncooked mixture clinging to it.

Leave the cake in the tin to cool completely.

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