One of the things I really love about baking is being able to think of ways to utilize favorite local ingredients. And so, Chocnut has become a bit of a theme for the past few weekend baking projects. There are more milk chocolate peanut snack brands out there now (Hany, Choco Star), but ask people what they prefer and you’ll likely get an overwhelming vote for Chocnut most every time. After a couple of baking attempts with it, I think I get why. It’s nutty but distinct, it’s not too sweet and it even has a butter-y kind of finish.
A flourless chocolate cake doesn’t seem very ambitious, I know, but it was just the right thing for a first experiment. Flourless chocolate cakes are very easy to make (they are often referred to as idiot proof or idiot friendly) but yield very rich results. Maybe even too rich. Those pleasures were not what I had in mind for this particular project.
Luckily, Martha Stewart’s flourless chocolate cake recipe held the answer: whip the egg whites. It creates a lift in your cake without the use of any leaveners. What we get is a lighter cake; one that better carries the Chocnut flavor, not compete with it. The top is slightly crisp, but slice into the cake and it reveals a smooth, fudgier bottom.
I liked the cake a lot and it’s only made me want to try more Chocnut baking. A Chocnut layer cake next time, perhaps?
For the cake:
6 large eggs, separated
3/4 stick or 6 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for pan
7 oz / 198 g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 Chocnut pieces, crumbled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
For the Chocnut ganache:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 Chocnut pieces
Make your cake. Preheat the oven to 275 /135 degrees with the rack in the center. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch cake or springform pan. Set aside. Place butter, chocolate and crumbled Chocnut in a large heatproof bowl and microwave in 30-second increments. Stir each time, until all the chocolate is completely melted and combined with the butter. Let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks. In a seperate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar. Continue beating until glossy stiff peaks form. Whisk 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg whites. Pour batter into the cake pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and is set in the center, 45 to 50 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Make your ganache. Place butter and chocnut in a heatproof bowl. Microwave until butter has melted and the Chocnut has softened. Pour in the cream. Stir until smooth. Slightly cool before using.
Have a slice. Or two! Go ahead, it’s lighter, anyway. Pour some your ganache on your cake slices, add more crumbled Chocnut or serve with some ice cream.