Individual Chocolate-Hazelnut Cakes

Individual Chocolate-Hazelnut Cakes

This recipe comes from :
Spago Chocolate by Mary Bergin and Judy Gethers
Used with permission.

Makes twelve 3-inch cakes

At Spago, we bake these cakes in special tins that we have made specifically for us. The tins are round circles of stainless steel, 3 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches high. You can use ramekins of the same dimensions. This is a rich dessert and, accompanied by Drambouie-Flavored Crème Anglaise, a particularly flavorful one.

EQUIPMENT: 12 muffin tins or ramekins, 3 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches deep, medium heatproof bowl, whip or egg beater, electric mixer with 2 large bowls, food processor, rubber spatula

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
6 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Hazelnut paste*
Confectioners' sugar
Drambuie-flavored creme anglaise
Whipped cream
11 ounces (2-1/4 cup) hazelnuts, toasted

1. Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or coat with vegetable spray 12 muffin tins or ramekins. Dust with flour, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.

2. In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. When it is almost melted, turn off the heat and allow it to melt completely, stirring occasionally. Chocolate should be warm, not hot, when used.

3. In a large bowl using a whip or eggbeater, whip the cream. You should have 2 cups whipped cream. Refrigerate, covered, until needed.

4. In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle or beaters, on high speed beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow in color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the melted chocolate into the egg mixture, then add the hazelnut paste, and beat on high speed until well mixed. Stop the machine occasionally and scrape down the sides of the bowl and under the beaters using a rubber spatula.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in about one-third of the whipped cream. Scrape the egg mixture back into the whipped cream and fold through.

6. Fill the tins or ramekins three-quarters full. (If using the same tin or ramekin again, after baking, cool, clean as needed, spray, and flour.) Bake until the top is fairly firm to the touch, but the center is still soft, about 20 minutes. Cool on a rack. To remove the cake, run a sharp knife around the inside of the tin or ramekin, loosening the cake, and unmold the cake onto a flat surface.

7. To serve, place one cake in the center of a plate and sift confectioners' sugar over the top. Spoon Drambouie-Flavored Crème Anglaise around each cake and place a large dollop of whipped cream alongside. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts and place a mint leaf in the cream. Top with a few chocolate curls, if desired. You can also decorate the outside rim of each plate with dots of Raspberry or Strawberry Compote (see page 222), if desired.

TO PREPARE AHEAD: Through step 6, the cakes can be made early in the day. When cool, refrigerate the cakes, removing them about 30 minutes before serving.

* To make hazelnut paste, place the remaining hazelnuts plus 2 tablespoons hazelnut oil (or unflavored vegetable oil) in the workbowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until a paste forms. The paste will stick to the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Excerpted from Spago Chocolate by Mary Bergin and Judy Gethers Copyright© 1999 by Mary Bergin and Judy Gethers. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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