One of the advantages of running your own restaurant is that premium ingredients are just a phone call away. But when I placed orders for my bakery, Desserticus, I routinely lost all self control. Every week it was like Christmas in the kitchen when the delivery driver finished dropping off boxes of European butter, cheese, and gourmet chocolate. This habit usually put a big hurtin' on my wallet. (I guess some girls like shoes. I like butter).
One of my guilty pleasures was buying blocks of Gianduja, a decadent amalgam of milk chocolate and hazelnut paste. As soon as I'd written the hefty check, I'd use my chef's knife to tear through the heavy plastic wrap of the 11 pound block and I'd start snacking. After a brief chocolate-induced coma, the reality of my expensive purchase would set in, and I'd try to think of what to whip up so that I could make money from the stuff instead of just standing there eating all the profits.
Lucky for me (and my business), I found the perfect dessert: a chocolate-hazelnut torte. It never failed to be a massive hit when I put a fresh 9-inch torte in the window. My customers swooned, the cash register ching-changed, and I couldn't wait to scribble "more Gianduja!" on my inventory sheet.
The recipe that I'm sharing with you today is based on the torte that I used to bake at Desserticus, adapted slightly for the home cook. Gianduja is pretty hard to get your hands on for anyone without a wholesale account, so I've subbed a more readily available option: Nutella. This ultra chocolatey-hazelnut concoction is basically a spreadable version of Gianduja, and every bit as potent. I packed a whole 1 1/4 cups of creamy Nutella into this torte, so to make sure it set up properly, I added an extra egg for structure. Chocolate also helps firm things up, so I increased the amount of milk chocolate for extra measure. Ground toasted hazelnuts add a great crunch and bump up the hazelnut flavor.
There's not a speck of flour in this one layer torte, so the result is richer, fudgier, and loads more sinful than any brownie. (Your New Year's resolution was to eat more chocolate, right?) This torte is such a showstopper that you could even sell it by the slice.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore and is currently at work constructing her new blog, "ShopHouseCook".