Combining dark chocolate and hazelnut makes this dark chocolate chiffon cake recipe a hit! Inspired by my love’s love of dark chocolate and affinity for hazelnut, this cake is rich and decadent.
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Once upon a time, my husband and I had a conversation of angel food cake, which is probably one of his least favorite cakes. He told me that what he especially didn’t like about it was that it wasn’t moist like devil’s food cake. He’s a real handful sometimes. I told him that I knew of another cake that has a similar texture to angel food cake but had more fat and that I would make it for him so he could try it out. Let the record show that I don’t remember this conversation at all. This would be chiffon cake.
What is Chiffon?
Chiffon cake is an American invention of the late 1940’s. What sets this cake apart from angel food cake is that it contains fat, whereas angel food cake has no fat whatsoever. Another thing that sets this cake apart from others is that it calls for oil (in this case I use coconut oil) rather than emulsified shortening which gives this cake a sponge-like texture, just like angel food cake. Professional bakeries use emulsified shortening to make their cakes, like devils food cake, super moist and delicious!
Now naturally, a chiffon cake recipe will lead to a drier cake, like angel food, but that is perfectly ok! Because this beauty is topped with a gorgeous hazelnut glaze that is out of this world. Let me tell you the story of how this idea came to be.
I was creating this cake in my head and I thought of how cool it would be for there to be a drastically contrasting glaze against a dark chocolate cake. My husband and I both love the flavor of hazelnut but I didn’t want to go the Nutella route. Toasting hazelnuts and creating a glaze from the “butter” would make an amazing glaze to moisten my cake and give it that wow factor.
I thought I was going to have to buy my hazelnut spread but after looking on Amazon and finding a jar, imported from Italy, for $20, I said “Not today, Satan!” And got to work on figuring out how to make this spread. My amazing mentor told me of 3 very simple ingredients: hazelnuts, coconut oil, water. Bam! That’s all it really takes to make this hazelnut spread! I would highly recommend either using a Nutri Ninja, Blendtec, or Vitamix blender as these blenders have incredible horsepower to withstand making such a thick mixture without burning out the motor. However, here is the link to the hazelnut spread if you want to skip that whole mess.
The glaze is even as simple as the spread. Since there was no sugar added to the spread, adding powdered (not granulated) really helps sweeten up the glaze. A little bit of vanilla to emphasize the flavor, and a bit of milk and there was the most beautiful hazelnut glaze this chiffon cake has ever seen!
I do feel like I need to talk about the hazelnuts, themselves for a bit. Hazelnuts have this dark outer skin that is bitter and needs to be removed before consumption. You can definitely buy what would be labeled as blanched hazelnuts, or filberts. I had no such luck of finding those in the store, so let me tell you the process of removing that skin, or blanching hazelnuts. Here is a link, though, for blanched hazelnuts so you can skip that arduous task.
How To Blanch Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts have a hard outer shell that protects the nut inside. Just covering that nut, is a paper-like dark skin that is really bitter if not removed; almonds have this dark skin as well. Typically, for nuts, like almonds, removing the skin is as easy as blanching the nuts in hot water and then plunging them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. The dark skins are removed and the tree nuts are enjoyed.
Hazelnuts are “blanched” in a much different fashion. Blanching hazelnuts consists of roasting hazelnuts at a low temperature, for about 12-15 minutes, so as to not cook the nut but enough to create steam to lift the skin from the nut. The hazelnuts are then placed into a kitchen towel and rubbed vigorously with the fabric, removing the skin.
It. Is. Awful.
I highly recommend buying filberts, or blanched hazelnuts, and saving yourself 30 minutes of work. Here is the link for those filberts again.
Melting chocolate is super easy if you use the right method and the right kind of chocolate! When looking for good melting chocolate, it’s best to look for chocolate that has a high-fat content, or bakers chocolate. Here is the chocolate I used for this cake. To melt the chocolate, I place a medium-sized bowl over a medium saucepot, half-full of water and let the hot water slowly melt the chocolate.
Whatever you do, DON’T LET THE WATER TOUCH THE CHOCOLATE. Water and chocolate are not friends and don’t mix well. Just mix the chocolate pieced occasionally with a rubber spatula to allow all of the wafers to melt evenly. Keep warm over the saucepot, with the heat turned off.
Making a Chiffon Cake
Making a chiffon cake is much like making a soufflé or angel food cake. The most important step is to make sure that the egg whites are whipped to stiff peaks! This ensures maximum height and rise of the cake.
Another important step to remember is to not completely incorporate all of the egg whites with the cake batter; it’s ok to still have some whites here and there. This means you haven’t beaten all of the air out of the whites. Also don’t freak out when you mix the chocolate and flour together; it will be thick but adding the egg whites will loosen everything up. Don’t worry, the first time I made this, I was like “oh no, Marlee!!!!” Psh, totally works out!
When the cake has finished baking, remember to store it upside down! This prevents the cake from falling down on itself and leads to a beautiful and tall cake. To remove the cake from the tube pan, run a butter knife around the outside of the cake and around the middle part. Pop the bottom out from the pan and then run your knife around the bottom side of the pan. Place the cake on a cake stand and voila! It’s ready to be topped.
The last part of this cake is so easy to make! Candied hazelnuts. I don’t toast these beforehand since they’re baked at such a low temperature to bake the egg whites, toasting them beforehand would burn the hazelnuts.
I hope that you enjoy this wonderful cake! I’m glad that I was finally able to fulfill a promise I made to my guy (even though I don’t remember it at all). He loved it and I hope that you find it enjoyable as well!
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Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake
- 12 ounces dark chocolate
- 8 egg whites
- 6 egg yolks
- 4 ounces coconut oil
- 8 ounces cake flour, sifted
- 14 ounces granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 8 ounces orange juice
- .5 fluid ounces vanilla extract
- 8 ounces blanched hazelnuts
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 8 ounces water
- 4 ounces powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 ounces milk
- 8 ounces blanched hazelnuts
- 2 egg whites
- 2 ounces sugar
Dark Chocolate Chiffon Cake
- In a medium bowl, over a medium sauce pot filled halfway with water brought to a boil, place dark chocolate and begin to melt. Melting will take about 10 minutes, continue to stir until all chocolate is melted.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In another mixing bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Gradually add sugar to the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks have formed.
- Add coconut oil to melted chocolate and stir until fully mixed. Next add egg yolks and stir until combined. Chocolate will thicken up a bit. Add orange juice next and stir until well mixed.
- Add chocolate mix to dry ingredients and mix together with a whisk. Don’t worry, it will get thick on you but that’s totally normal. Just mix until completely combined.
- Once egg whites achieved stiff peaks, gently fold egg whites into chocolate and flour base. Begin with a small amount at first and once that has been mixed, add a bigger batch and continue until cake is completely mixed together.
- Fill a tube pan with the cake batter, DO NOT GREASE CAKE PAN! Place in the oven and bake for about 55-60 minutes. Test with a tooth pick in the center of the ring of the cake. When the cake is done baking, remove from oven and cool upside down. If your tube pan has feet, use those. If not, use a wine bottle or another whose neck can fit in the hole of the tube. Allow to cool completely.
- To remove cake from cake pan, run a butter knife along the outer edge of the cake pan, as well as the tube in the middle. Push the bottom of the cake pan up and out of the ring. Run a knife along the bottom of the cake pan and slide the cake up out of the tube. Place on a cake stand.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with either a silicone baking mat or a piece of parchment paper. Toast hazelnuts on baking sheet for about 8 minutes or until golden brown in color. Allow to cool once done toasting.
- Once hazelnuts are cooled, place in a blender along with coconut oil and water. Allow to blend on high until a smooth texture has been achieved. Spread should be thick like peanut butter.
- Place hazelnut spread in a mixing bowl, along with powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Whisk together until smooth.
- In a mixing bowl, mix together egg whites and sugar until frothy. Next add hazelnuts and stir with a rubber spatula until hazelnuts are evenly coated.
- Pour onto baking sheet (yes, with the egg whites too) and bake for 5 minutes at a time, take the pan out and stir hazelnuts around before putting back into the oven to bake more. This will take a total of 15-20 minutes, or until hazelnuts are no longer sticky.
- Store in an airtight container.
To make this cake as efficiently as possible, start making the cake first and bake your candied hazelnuts with the already preheated 325 degrees. When chiffon cake is cooling, toast the hazelnuts needed for the glaze and create that last.
Amount Per ServingCalories 831Saturated Fat 20gCholesterol 99mgSodium 251mgCarbohydrates 83gFiber 7gSugar 57gProtein 14g