Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeI spent this past weekend celebrating my little sister, Eliot’s 30th birthday. We ate breakfast tacos and went to our first game at Fenway Park and laughed til we cried at least once. We also put on one hell of a birthday party in her Cambridge, MA, apartment, complete with lots of friends, a batch of salsa, and two of these Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cakes.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeEliot didn’t specifically ask for this cake. When we started talking about her birthday a few weeks ago, she said she’d be perfectly happy with Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies or the Winning Hearts & Minds Cake we both love so much. After her summer in India, she’s discovered that maybe wheat isn’t for her, so her main request was that whatever I made be gluten-free. That was easy enough—I am all about flourless cakes. And chocolate and hazelnut is her favorite sweet flavor combination, so here we are.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeY’all, this Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is like a combination between a fudgy brownie and a jar of Nutella. Chocolate hazelnut overload! It’s very simple to put together and only has six ingredients: bittersweet chocolate, hazelnuts, eggs, butter, sugar, and salt. Yep, that’s all it takes to make this cake, but as with most recipes that have minimal ingredients, each one must be handled with care.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThe chocolate has to be melted and cooled to room temperature.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThe hazelnuts have to be toasted before having their skins removed and being blitzed into a fine meal.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThe eggs need to be separated and the whites have to be whipped to stiff peaks.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeYes, all of that must be done before the batter can be put together. None of those steps are difficult or time-consuming, but they are completely necessary—no shortcuts here!

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeTo make the batter, cream the butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg yolks and hazelnut meal before adding the chocolate. Stir 1/4 of the whipped egg whites into the batter before carefully folding in the rest 1/4 at a time. Pour it all into a buttered, parchment-lined cake pan and bake it just until a tester comes out clean.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeInvert it onto a foil-lined plate.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeRevert it onto a serving dish (or your favorite cake stand).

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeEliot wanted her cake served with a dusting of confectioners sugar, but I prefer it with a puddle of ganache and some more toasted, skinned hazelnuts.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeFlourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeSlice it up and try not to eat the whole thing.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeThis Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake is truly phenomenal. Chocolaty, hazelnutty (it’s a word today, okay?!), rich, but not too heavy—basically everything you want in a decadent dessert! Between testing, partying, and blogging, I’ve made five of these in the past week, and I am still having a hard time not sneaking bites and evening out edges.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeBasically, what I’m saying is make this, and/or come take cake #5 away from me 🙂🙃

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut CakeHappy birthday, Smel!

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
makes one 9-inch cake

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate)
6 ounces (1 heaping cup) whole raw hazelnuts 
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
1 cup granulated sugar

Garnish:
3 ounces (heaping 1/2 cup) whole raw hazelnuts
7 tablespoons heavy cream
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

In a double boiler or the microwave, melt bittersweet chocolate. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and butter again. Set aside.

Place hazelnuts on a dry, rimmed sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Immediately transfer hazelnuts to a clean, dry, textured hand towel. Fold towel around the hazelnuts and then rub the towel with the palm of your hand. This will allow the hazelnut skins to loosen. This step does not have to be done perfectly.

Transfer hazelnuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a fine meal forms. Set aside.

Place egg whites and salt in a very clean, dry large mixing bowl. Use a very clean, dry electric mixer on medium-high speed to beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add sugar and beat until combined. Add egg yolks three at a time, mixing to combine. Add hazelnut meal in two installments, followed by room-temperature melted chocolate.

Use a silicone spatula to add 1/4 of the whipped egg whites to the batter, stirring as much as necessary to get them to incorporate.

Continue adding the whipped egg whites in 1/4 increments, gently folding them into the batter.
Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake 23-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Top may still be a bit jiggly, but it will set as the cake cools. Let cake cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Release the cake. Line a dinner plate with foil. Dip a small knife in warm water and slowly run it around the edge of the pan, dipping again as necessary, to loosen the cake. Place the dinner plate, foil-side down, on top of the cake pan. Holding on to both the pan and the plate, quickly flip them over. Remove the pan and the parchment. Gently place a serving plate, top-side down, onto the bottom of the cake. Holding tightly to both plates (but not so much as to crush the cake), quickly revert. Remove the foil-lined dinner plate.

Prepare the garnish. Place hazelnuts on a dry, rimmed sheet pan. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until fragrant. Immediately transfer hazelnuts to a clean, dry, textured hand towel. Fold towel around the hazelnuts and then rub the towel with the palm of your hand. This will allow the hazelnut skins to loosen. Set aside to cool completely.

Warm cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, just until it simmers. Remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Let sit undisturbed until chocolate looks soft. Stir with a fork until smooth. Spread or drizzle ganache over the cake. Dot with toasted hazelnuts, as desired.

Chocolate will set a bit after 20 minutes. Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to three.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Today’s post is the third new cookie recipe in as many weeks…except that it’s not new at all. These Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies are made with the gluten-free cookie base of my Lindor Truffle Peanut Butter Blossoms and the marshmallow filling from my homemade Oatmeal Creme Pies. Put ‘em together, and you’ve got a sandwich cookie that is stupid easy and crazy delicious.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}This cookie recipe is based on the Fluffernutter Sandwich, which is a perfect food as far as I am concerned. It doesn’t get much better than peanut butter and marshmallow fluff! That rich, creamy, sweet and salty combination is one of the greatest lunch treats out there. And make no mistake, it is a treat. While peanut butter (the natural kind, anyway) is pretty good for you, marshmallow fluff definitely isn’t! Good thing this is a dessert blog—this magical combination is much more suited to a cookie than a main course.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies come together quickly and easily. The cookies are my spin on the classic three-ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe. My version has six ingredients; aside from the usual peanut butter, egg, and brown sugar, this recipe has vanilla for flavor and cornstarch and baking powder to give the cookies a chewy texture. There’s no flour or butter in this dough or in the filling, so this recipe is free of gluten and dairy 😍

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Scoop the dough by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons), roll it into balls, and flatten slightly. They may crack slightly, but that’s sort of a necessary evil here. This dough doesn’t spread much, so the flattening helps the cookies to bake into a shape that lends itself to sandwiching. 

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}And speaking of sandwiching…once the cookies are baked and cooled, make the filling. Cream together marshmallow fluff and shortening. Beat in some confectioners sugar, salt, vanilla, and hot water until a smooth, sticky filling forms. Load it into a zip-top plastic bag and snip off a corner.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Pipe dime-sized dollops of marshmallow filling onto half of the cookies and top them with the rest of the cookies.

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}Y’all. Y’ALL. These Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies are SO GOOD. The cookies are chewy and peanut buttery and the filling is marshmallow magic. Together, they are rich, sweet, salty, gluten- and dairy-free, and irresistible!

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}

Fluffernutter Sandwich Cookies {Gluten-Free}
makes about 2.5 dozen very small sandwich cookies

Cookies:
1 1/2 cups creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/8 teaspoon baking powder

Filling:
4 oz marshmallow fluff (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup shortening,* room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1 teaspoon hot water (from the tap is fine)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat peanut butter and light brown sugar until combined. Mix in egg and yolk, followed by vanilla. Beat in cornstarch and baking powder.

Scoop dough in 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoon) increments and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least 1.5 inches apart on prepared pans and flatten lightly with your fingertips. Bake 6 minutes, until no longer shiny. Let cool ten minutes on the pans before removing to a rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, cream the marshmallow fluff and shortening with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar and salt. Add in vanilla and hot water and mix on high until the filling is very fluffy.

Assemble sandwich cookies. Load filling into a piping bag or zip-top freezer bag and snip off a small corner. Pipe a dime-sized dollop onto the middle of the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat with all remaining cookies.

Cookies will keep very well covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

You may use an equal volume of softened butter in place of shortening. This will mean that your cookies are no longer dairy-free.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteIt took me seven tries to get these pancakes right.

About a month before we left for Maine, I declared to my travel buddies, VJ and Adam, that I was going to make a a pancake recipe that we could all enjoy. They sort of smiled and nodded because I had clearly lost my mind—VJ is a gluten-free vegan and Adam is a bit of a picky eater, so this basically seemed impossible.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteNever one to let logic stop me, I set to work. I looked at my pancake recipes and a couple more from around the internet, and then I had six consecutive fails. Every problem pancakes could have, these had: too dry, too bland, too thin, too many ingredients, too stuck to the pan—you name it. I had one batch that was somewhere in the realm of “okay” and as vacation drew near I figured it could work in a pinch, but I was less than enthused about it. I’d crack the code one day, but it wasn’t going to be in time for this trip.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteBut then, there was cornbread. On the second night of vacation, we decided to grill out. Grilling is not my forte, so Adam took the lead there and I worked on side dishes. I threw out a few ideas to VJ; sautéed spinach was a definite winner, but she sort of lost her mind when I mentioned veganizing my already-gluten-free Southern-Style Cornbread. I had never attempted a vegan version of that recipe, but I figured it would be easy enough. I could swap almond milk soured with vinegar for buttermilk, use a few tablespoons of vegan margarine in place of butter, and I could crack open a can of chickpeas and use the aquafaba in place of the egg. It’s that last change that made that cornbread so good, and when VJ asked for my overhyped Cornmeal Pancakes last Wednesday morning, it’s that change that made a solidly “okay” recipe into one I’ll make again and again.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteHave you heard of aquafaba? It’s having a bit of a moment right now—it made The New York Times. If you’re in the dark about this miracle of modern baking, I’m sure you’re not alone. Literally translated, aquafaba means “bean water.” And that’s exactly what it is—the liquid from cooking (and canning) chickpeas. If you have a can of chickpeas (or any bean, actually) in your pantry, you have aquafaba in your house right now. Who knew?!

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteBefore you go clicking away from this blog forever, hear me out. I know using the cooking liquid from chickpeas in baking sounds absolutely bizarre, but it actually makes a lot of sense, scientifically speaking. Like eggs, aquafaba is super high in protein and very viscous; when whipped, it can even hold stiff peaks! You don’t need to break out your mixer for this recipe though—just three tablespoons of liquid aquafaba help these Cornmeal Pancakes to stay fluffy and keep them from being too crumbly. And since aquafaba doesn’t have a distinctive flavor like other vegan egg replacers (I’m looking at you, flaxseed), it doesn’t distract from the slightly sweet corn flavor 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻

These Cornmeal Pancakes, y’all. They’re light and fluffy with crispy edges and a rich corn flavor. Oh, and they’re beautiful too.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteYou could certainly serve them with butter (or vegan margarine) and maple syrup…

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote…but I am all about this Blackberry Compote.
Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteCornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry CompoteIt only has four ingredients and takes less than ten minutes to prepare, and it’s basically like topping your pancakes with pie filling (but with much less sugar).

However you choose to serve these Cornmeal Pancakes, I hope they make your friends and family as happy as they made mine.

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote
Photo courtesy of Valancy Jane.
Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free} with Blackberry Compote

Cornmeal Pancakes {Vegan & Gluten-Free}
makes about 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 3/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup cornstarch 
1/4 cup granulated sugar 
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons aquafaba (chickpea canning liquid)
1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola), plus more for cooking
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For Serving:
butter (vegan or regular)
pure maple syrup 
Blackberry Compote (recipe below)

In a liquid measuring cup, combine unsweetened almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Let sit 5 minutes or until curdled.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together cornmeal, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add almond milk mixture, aquafaba, oil, and vanilla, and whisk until combined.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add batter to the pan in 1/4 cup increments, leaving space between pancakes. Let cook until the edges no longer look raw, about 2-3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Repeat process with all remaining batter, adding oil to the pan as necessary.

Divide pancakes among serving plates. Top with butter, maple syrup, and/or Blackberry Compote. Serve immediately.

Blackberry Compote
makes about 2 cups

12 ounces fresh blackberries 
3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lime

In a small saucepan, combine blackberries, sugar, and cinnamon. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until a sauce forms (about 5 minutes). Use a potato masher to mash blackberries until the desired texture is reached. Bring to a boil for 1 minute before removing from heat. Stir in lime juice. Let cool completely.

Compote will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaThe countdown to vacation is officially on! I am T-4 days away from driving up to Maine with my friends, VJ and Adam, and I. can’t. wait.

A lot of the appeal of this trip is that we can all be together while also doing our own things. VJ will be perfectly happy putting together puzzles all day long. I have big plans to spend at least a couple of days foraging and baking. This will be Adam’s first time to Swans Island, but I know he’ll settle in quickly. The great thing about this trip is that everyone can do exactly what they want to do—there are no definite plans or must-do activities. It’s positively blissful.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaThe only thing that’s difficult about being on Swans Island is figuring out the menu. There are no large grocery stores on-island, so all groceries have to be carted over from a market on the mainland. This means that we spent last Saturday night gathered around Adam’s kitchen table planning out every single meal and snack so that we can shop efficiently and thoroughly. Easy enough, right?

WRONG. While Adam and I basically eat everything, VJ is a gluten-free vegan. Granted, she is the least difficult gluten-free vegan ever (ever ever ever), but it’s still a challenge to plan meals that we can all enjoy together. Honestly, it’s simpler to just make two grocery lists and hope for some ingredient overlap. Regardless, I’ve taken it upon myself to make one thing we can all share and enjoy equally. This Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola is the result, and it’s freaking fabulous.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaLike most granola, Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola is super easy to make and infinitely more delicious than anything you’ll find in stores. It’s basically like crispy, crunchy Nutella-flavored magic…but gluten-free, vegan, and perfect for sharing with all my favorite people.

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaSalted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaSalted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaSalted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaOats and chopped raw hazelnuts are coated in a mixture of oil, maple syrup, dark brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla, before being baked until crisp. Once the granola isn’t searing hot anymore, four ounces of dark chocolate are mixed in. This creates some seriously amazing clusters 😍 You could certainly enjoy your granola like that, but I like to wait until it reaches room temperature and stir in a bit more chocolate—textural diversity for the win. Also, all that chocolate 😊😳🍫🍫🍫

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut GranolaI’ve already made two quarts of this granola for our trip. That may seem like a lot for three people, but between breakfasts and snacks, I know it’ll disappear quickly. And how couldn’t it? With crispy oats, toasty hazelnuts, a double dose of chocolate, and a big hit of salt to balance it all out, it’s guaranteed to keep all of us coming back for more.Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola

Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Granola
makes about 5-6 cups

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (I used certified gluten-free oats)
1 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) raw hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt
6 ounces chopped dark chocolate, divided

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed quarter sheet pan with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats and chopped hazelnuts. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, combine oil, maple syrup, vanilla, and brown sugar. Use a fork to whisk in cocoa powder and salt until mixture is smooth. Pour liquid ingredients over oats and hazelnuts. Fold everything together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 40 minutes, stirring at the 15 and 30 minute marks. Let cool in the pan on a rack for at least 20 minutes, until it’s warm but can be handled. Scatter 4 ounces of chopped chocolate over the top and stir in. Let cool completely. Stir in remaining 2 ounces of chopped chocolate.

Granola may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}For a baking blogger, I sure haven’t baked much lately. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to–no, I always want to bake–but because I’ve been so crazy busy. Eliot was here, I went to Texas, my best friend from college was in town, I turned 32…I simply haven’t had the time!

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}My last three recipes haven’t required an oven at all. I’m not complaining though; I’ve been enjoying lots of Iced Matcha Lattes, Whole Wheat Pancakes, and Key Lime Pie Popsicles lately 😊

But enough about that. Today, let’s get back to baking.

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}Cheesecake Brownies are a classic for a reason–who can resist a fudgy brownie swirled with a layer of creamy cheesecake?! Add to that that this recipe is completely grain-free, thanks to my spin on Katharine Hepburn Brownies, and you’ve got a surefire crowdpleaser for all your cookouts this summer!Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}

Cheesecake Brownies {Grain-Free}
makes one 9-inch square pan, about 16 brownies

Cheesecake:
8 ounces full-fat brick-style cream cheese
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large eggs
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Brownies:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Place oven racks in the top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 325F. Line a 9-inch square pan with foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease foil with butter. Set aside.

Make cheesecake. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Set aside.

In a double boiler or the microwave, melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together until smooth. Let cool slightly before transferring to a large mixing bowl.

Whisk in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by eggs and vanilla. Mix in cocoa powder and salt. Reserve 1/3 cup of batter in a small bowl.

Transfer the rest of the batter to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Drop spoonfuls of cheesecake over the top, followed by spoonfuls of the reserved brownie batter. Swirl with a small, thin knife. Tap full pan five times on the countertop to release air bubbles and distribute. Cover pan with foil. Bake on the top rack for 20 minutes. Uncover pan. Bake on the bottom rack for an additional 20-30 minutes, until cheesecake just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let brownies cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack. Refrigerate in the pan for four hours (or overnight). Use foil overhang to remove brownies to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice and serve.

Leftover Cheesecake Brownies will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.