Hey you. Yeah, you there in the corner, trying to hide behind the big bag of flour. You think you can't bake fancy desserts? I don't believe you. What? You say that none of the cakes you make turn out? Pssh. Let me show you a recipe so easy that I made it when I was eight years old.
Yeah, you heard me. Are you going to let an eight year old outbake you? I didn't think so.
This cake recipe is one of the easier desserts you can possibly make. It's very low in flour so you don't have to worry about overworking the gluten, and the only part that even remotely smacks of "intermediate level" is melting the chocolate. (And if you've got any idea what a double boiler is, it shouldn't give you any trouble at all.) If the idea of roasting hazelnuts gives you the cold sweats, skip the roasting altogether and use 3/4 cup of pre-ground hazelnut flour instead. You can also use almond flour.
Once you've got the chocolate and nuts squared away, all you have to do is mix a bunch of stuff in a bowl and pour it into a greased pan. That's all there is to it. Despite the lack of complexity involved in this recipe, the end result is still a gorgeously elegant, densely decadent chocolate cake that will surely impress whomever you offer it to. A generous dusting of powered sugar on top completes the presentation.
Guess what? You now look like a baking ninja.
This torte is a classically dense, rich dessert. The darker the chocolate you use, the more intense it will be; I prefer 70% chocolate, though you could use 63% if you like, or semi-sweet, or even milk chocolate if you're of that ilk. The hazelnuts round out this cake with a wonderfully toasty flavor, while a healthy dose of vanilla provides a gently sweet aroma to balance out all that dark chocolate. I add a pinch of cinnamon for a little something-something, and if you like, you could even double that amount for a little something-something extra.
Regardless, it's pretty tough to screw up this cake. It might even survive overbaking, but I wouldn't push it too far.
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About the author: Stephanie Stiavetti is a writer and cookbook author in San Francisco. Stephanie's cookbook, Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, celebrates America's favorite dish by recreating it with small production, specialty cheeses. Her food blog, The Culinary Life, is a repository for all things comfort food related, from savory dinners to transcendental desserts.