I've wanted to try the Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake for quite a while, but it was only recently that I finally got around to it.
This cake takes 6 egg whites, which is great for using up the egg whites leftover from making ice cream. It also was a great application for the hazelnuts I've had sitting around for longer than I'd like to admit. You toast the nuts and grind them, so it would be even easier to just use hazelnut meal (if you find such a thing). There's still a little flour in this cake, so it's not gluten-free.
I always underestimate how long it will take me to thaw frozen egg whites. For 6 egg whites, the answer is at least 2 hours. I wish I had timed it so I could tell you how long.
I weighed out my 5 ounces of hazelnuts (or 1 cup) because I didn't feel like using a measuring cup. I toasted them for 12 minutes, which was a little too long in my oven. I let them cool completely before I ground them. I did not skin them.
I slit a vanilla bean and added it to 2 sticks of butter in a skillet. I cooked it on medium for about 6 minutes, until the butter browned, scraping frequently.
I think I've become a wimp, because I cannot imagine trying to whip egg whites without my stand mixer any more. I combined the egg whites with the granulated sugar in my stand mixer and used the whisk attachment with it on high speed for about 4 minutes. This was all it took for them to form stiff peaks. They probably would have been clumpy if I'd whisked it for longer.
While the Kitchenaid did its magic, I ground my hazelnuts with the powdered sugar. Actually, I don't have a food processor; I have a little electric food chopper that's great for small jobs, so I ground the nuts and added powdered sugar gradually as to not overwhelm it.
Batter assembly: I added the dry ingredients and butter in 3 batches. I mixed lightly to combine, but the brown butter is heavy and will deflate the egg whites (thus the need for very stiff peaks).
I scraped the batter into a 10-inch greased springform pan. My cake was a little less pretty for the lack of parchment paper when I turned it out, but it didn't stick at all.
Baking times for this cake were variable. I baked my cake for 35 minutes at 350F and it was DONE. I highly recommend checking yours even sooner. Once the cake was cool, I turned it out onto a cake plate. I made my chocolate ganache from 4 ounces chocolate chips and 2 tablespoons milk.
This was pretty good. It tasted like a Ferrero Rocher candy, or what I always hope Nutella will taste like. It was very hazelnutty, and the browned butter blended into it. The chocolate was not overwhelming. It was less sweet than Nutella, and richer. I wish I had taken the cake out a couple of minutes sooner, because although it wasn't dry, it wasn't particularly moist, either. It was a flat, dense cake.
Honestly, this wasn't my favorite cake ever, but I thought it was pretty good considering I wasn't in the mood for hazelnuts by the time I made it. If you like Nutella but want it richer, you should consider giving this cake a shot.