Sunday, February 7, 2016

Blackberry Hazelnut Torte

I do envy those that have wild blackberries growing in their yard. Not just blackberries, but any type of fruit. Just the idea of going outside and getting something that fresh to bake with is a wonderful thought. Unfortunately, the convenience of the grocers has stomped out any idea of me creating a garden. My busy lifestyle is no help either.

However, when it comes to baking, I more motivated to set aside a lot of time. It was not only the flavors in this recipe that inspired me, but also the presentation. I call them the "wow" factors. Let me explain here...

Imagine a 4 layer, spongy cake made with ground hazelnuts soaked with hazelnut liqueur. Then add the building block filling: the first being the blackberry coulis, the second-white chocolate  buttercream and the last is a combo of the two; blackberry mousse. If that does not excite your taste buds, then they are officially dead.

I knew at the start that this cake was going to be a major project, not only requiring a lot of time, but numerous eggs. This still did not deter me, I was dead set on making it. When I was done and tasted the cake, I had no regrets. Also, my taste testers gobbled up slice after slice, so I knew it was a success.

The only issue with the original recipe was that the white chocolate icing had too many ingredients and came out very liquid-so I knew it was missing something. I added powdered sugar to achieve the correct consistency. Due to this problem, I have supplied a link in the ingredients list to a Wilton recipe for white chocolate buttercream.  It is less labor intensive and requires less ingredients, which makes for a happier baker.

There are also some other tips and notes at the end to help you succeed in making this cake.

Blackberry Hazelnut Torte
adapted from Razzledazzle Recipes

Ingredients/Cake Layers
2 tbs hazelnut liqueur and extra for soaking
12 eggs, separated and 3 additional egg whites
1/2 cup butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
12 oz toasted and peeled hazelnuts
2/3 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients/Filling & Frosting
1 1/4 lb or 20 oz frozen blackberries
2 tbs corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1 recipe white chocolate buttercream
chopped, toasted hazelnuts (as much as desired for topping and or sides of cake after frosted)

Prepare four 9 inch cake pans by buttering the interior. Then line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the face up side. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the frozen blackberries in a saucepan to thaw.

Pour hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until chopped. You want them chopped, but not so much that they start to form a paste. Add the flour to the hazelnuts and mix until evenly distributed.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Once the consistency is fluffy, add one egg yolk and beat until combined. Continue adding each egg yolk, beating after each addition, until all egg yolks are blended into the butter mixture. Pour in the hazelnut liqueur and beat for 20 seconds on medium. Then fold in the hazelnut/flour blend. Empty batter into another bowl and set aside.

Clean and dry the bowl of the stand mixer and fit the mixer with the whipping attachment. Fill the bowl with all the egg whites and add salt. Beat until it reaches a stiff peak consistency. Continue to run the mixer and slowly pour in remaining sugar (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon). Combine until sugar is evenly distributed. The mixture should still retain the stiff peak consistency when done.

Take 1/4 of the egg white blend and fold into the hazelnut batter. Then fold the rest of the egg white mixture into the batter in increments, taking care to retain the fluffy consistency. After all is blended, fill each of the prepared pans evenly with the batter and smooth the top. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until tester comes out clean. The top should have a golden hue when done. Place cake pans on rack to cool completely. Cake must be completely cool in order to remove from pans.

While the cakes are cooling, start making the blackberry coulis. Take the saucepan with the blackberries and place over medium heat. Add the sugar and corn syrup. Stir until sugar is dampened by the blackberries. Let the mixture cook and continue to stir. As it cooks, the liquid will reduce down. Let it cook down until it is about 1/3 less than the original amount. Remove from heat and pour mixture into a sieve placed over a heatproof bowl. Rub the inside with the back of the spoon, pushing all the blackberry through the sieve, letting the seeds remain inside the sieve. Set the blackberry coulis aside to cool to room temperature and discard the seeds.

Now, move on to the white chocolate buttercream recipe and create the frosting. Once this is made, take out 2 cups of the buttercream and empty into a smaller bowl. Then mix 1/2 cup of the blackberry coulis into the 2 cups of buttercream.

The end result is 3 separate bowls for the filling and frosting of the cake: blackberry coulis, white chocolate buttercream and blackberry mousse. 

After the cakes have completely cooled, you can start on the assembly process. Invert the cakes onto a flat surface and remove the parchment paper. Evaluate the shape and thickness of each cake and decide in which order to stack.

Start with the cake chosen for the bottom layer and place on a cake board or serving plate. Pour some of the hazelnut liqueur into a small bowl and dip a pastry brush into the liqueur. Brush on the surface of the cake. Let sit for a few minutes to soak in. Then spread the blackberry coulis over the top of the layer, taking care to leave a small border on the edge. Top with the next layer of cake and brush with hazelnut liqueur, giving a few minutes to soak in. Spread some of the white buttercream evenly on top and again leaving a small border edge. Place the next layer over this and do the same process with the hazelnut liqueur. Then evenly cover the top with the blackberry mousse, leaving a border. Then add the last cake layer and frost with the white buttercream.

Once the cake is frosted, you can mask the sides with chopped hazelnuts or sprinkle on top.

Tips and Notes:
1. Skinning hazelnuts is a tedious process. You are welcome to substitute with hazelnut flour, however, the cake will have dark specks in it. I have yet to find solid white hazelnut flour, it usually includes the dark skin of the nut.

2. I used fresh blackberries for the coulis, but that did require a lot more work. I am sure the recommended frozen fruit dissolves into the sugar much easier than whole berries.

3. For the best buttercream frosting, be sure to use clear vanilla extract (if you want it very white) and white bar chocolate-not white chocolate chips.

4. When reviewing the frosting recipe, remember that this is a four layer cake and make any adjustments as needed to be sure there is enough to cover the cake with the thickness you desire.
                                    **LAST YEAR: Brooklyn Blackout Cupcakes**