Until I started blogging five years ago I usually stayed with my old tried and true recipes that I got from my mother and grandmother. I knew we liked them and they didn’t demand a lot of effort on my part to get out of my comfort zone. It took about a year of blogging for me to realize that I was becoming a much better cook and baker as I used new ingredients and techniques in my effort to produce interesting posts and good recipes. It is fun to get the creative juices flowing and I accept that there is a lot of trial and error involved, and on a regular basis a new recipe will go straight from the oven into the trash bin. But on special occasions…holiday and birthday and such…I almost always go back to my mom’s recipe file for a recipe that I, and my children, remember from our childhoods.
I recently posted a family recipe for BURNT SUGAR CHIFFON CAKE that got lots of interest and comments. There was much reminiscing about chiffon cakes and how delicious they are and how sad it is that they have fallen out of favor with the dessert crowd. I got requests for other flavors and picked a chocolate one for our upcoming holiday weekend. My mother was good about keeping a recipe collection but not about keeping it in good order so I had to search through boxes…and boxes…to try to find her recipe for CHOCOLATE CHIFFON CAKE. I couldn’t find it anywhere, but did find this recipe at TASTE OF HOME that is similar in texture and intense chocolate flavor and is light as a feather I was craving chocolate so added a rich, bittersweet ganache and a few coarsely chopped hazelnuts to finish it off.
REMOVING THE SKINS FROM HAZELNUTS IS VERY EASY TO DO. Place raw nuts on a baking sheet and roast in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes. Check at 6 minutes and then every few minutes after that to prevent burning. When they are ready you will be able to smell them and the nuts will have swollen and the skins will split and pop off the nuts. Put the nuts on a small dry towel and rub vigorously until most of the loose skins have been removed. About 75% of it will come off. Don’t worry about the rest. Cool and chop to desired dice. If you love hazelnuts as much as I do (I live smack dab in the middle of hazelnut country) you can purchase extra fancy nuts in various form: whole raw nuts, whole dry roasted, hazelnut flour, and diced nuts on my web store, THE BAVARIAN NUT COMPANY. Oregon and Turkey are the two largest hazelnut producing areas in the world.
A critical step in making this and any chiffon cake (and angel food cake as well) is to turn the cake upside down and place it on the neck of a bottle (wine bottles work great) right when you take it out of the oven. Let it cool completely in this position. Otherwise…flat as a pancake. Here is a little tip…find the right size wine bottle before the cake goes into the oven. If you don’t you may have a frantic few minutes trying to find the right size neck.
I must have stirred and cooled the ganache a little too much because it started to thicken up and wouldn’t pour down the sides of the cake as I intended. At this point I could have beaten it for a minute or two with my electric mixer and it would have firmed up enough to pipe on the cake. A little trick to keeping your cake plate clean is to slip little pieces of waxed paper under the bottom of the cake so they cover the plate. After the cake is iced just slip out the waxed paper.
- 7 eggs, separated
- ½ cup baking cocoa
- ¾ cup boiling water
- 1-3/4 cups cake flour
- 1-3/4 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 12 ounces chocolate, chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons flavored liqueor, optional
- Let eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- In a bowl combine cocoa and boiling water until smooth, cool for 20 minutes.
- In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.
- In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks, oil and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients along with the cocoa mixture. Beat until well blended.
- In another bowl and with clean beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold into egg yolk mixture.Gently spoon batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan. Cut through the batter with a knife to remove air pockets. Bake on lowest rack at 325 degrees for 60-65 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Immediately invert pan, cool completely. Run a knife around sides and center tube of pan. Invert cake onto a serving plate
- Place chocolate pieces in a large bowl. Heat heavy cream on medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour cream over chocolate and stir until completely mixed and glossy. Allow ganache to cool before pouring over cake as a glaze. The longer you allow the ganache to cool, the thicker it will get. I waited a little too long and the glaze didn't flow down the sides of the cake the way I wanted it to. Thickening doesn't affect the taste...it's all about appearance.