Chef Nicole: Chocolate Ganache Cake w/ Hazelnut Praline

Nicole Straight

Ok people...there are tons of delicious recipes on CTbites, but this is hands down my favorite to date. Chef Nicole won an award for this Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Hazelnut Praline, and after your first bite, you'll know why. We used dark chocolate left over from the "Sustainable Dark Chocolate Tasting" we had earlier in the week, so it was truly outrageous. (More on that later). Bonus: The extra ganache can be used to dip fruit into resulting in a beautiful accompaniment to this decadent treat. Forget flowers this Valentine's Day...just make cake.

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache and Hazelnut Praline

10 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, chopped

1 C. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

5 large eggs

1 C. sugar

5 Tbs. all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter and flour 10-inch-diameter springform pan and line bottom of pan with a parchment circle. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Beat eggs and sugar in large bowl until well blended and beginning to thicken. Sift flour and baking powder over eggs and fold in. Gradually fold in chocolate mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake cake 20 minutes. Cover pan with foil. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs still attached, about 30 minutes longer. Uncover cake; cool in pan on rack (cake will fall as it cools). (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature.)

Chocolate ganache

1 C. heavy cream

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped in a food processor

Bring cream to a simmer in a saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate until smooth. Transfer ganache to a bowl and chill, covered. (If ganache becomes too thick, let stand at room temperature until slightly softened.)

Hazelnut praline

1/2 C. sugar

1 C. hazelnuts toasted lightly and skinned

Lightly oil a baking sheet.

In a dry heavy saucepan cook sugar over moderate heat, stirring with a fork, until melted and cook, without stirring, swirling pan, just until a golden caramel. Add hazelnuts, stirring until coated well. Immediately pour mixture onto baking sheet and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Remove praline from baking sheet and pulse in a food processor until finely chopped.

Once cake is cool, remove from pan and place in a cake plate.  Add ganache to top and sides of cake and cover top of cake with hazelnut praline. Serve.