Drunken Squirrel’s Cake.

Yes, Drunken Squirrel’s Cake. Named for two of its distinguishing ingredients, walnuts and Kahlua, this flourless cake is gooey and delicious with a hot cup of tea on a chilly afternoon. Inspired by a cake from Laura Calder, it bakes up brown and beautiful and has a super-tender soft texture thanks to its nutty flourless batter. If you can, use a more petite cake pan, as this little guy is meant to be smaller and taller rather than wide and flat. The air that we’ll beat into the eggs makes everything puff up while baking and then fall down while cooling, which makes for a cake that’s both dense and airy at the same time. Squirrels and people everywhere, rejoice!

IMG_0615

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup walnuts
about 2 tbsp plain breadcrumbs (I’ve used regular bread crumbs, panko, and a crumbled up piece of toast, and they all work great)
3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp grated semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp warm honey
1/4 cup melted butter (melted just to easy pouring consistency, but not so melted that it becomes oily and separates)
1 tbsp Kahlua
powdered sugar for serving

Just the Recipe link: Drunken Squirrel’s Cake

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Heat a pan over medium and add the walnuts. Toast them until they’re nutty and fragrant, careful not to burn them. Then blitz the walnuts and breadcrumbs in a food processor until powdery.

Separate eggs into two bowls. Don’t use a plastic bowl for the yolks, as you’ll need to whisk them over heat. Add the sugar to the yolks and place it over a saucepan of simmering water. Don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water in the pan. Whisk over heat until the yolk mixture has tripled in size and is “thick, pale, and ribbony.” Remove from heat.

IMG_0599

Add nut mixture, chocolate, honey, butter, and Kahlua to yolks. Gently fold together.

Now whisk egg whites until they form stiff peaks. This takes some elbow grease, but don’t lose heart–you’ll get there.

Add a spoonful of whites to the yolk mixture and gently combine, to loosen the yolk batter. Then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into a well-greased cake pan.

IMG_0602

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan; because we beat so much air into the eggs, the cake will fall a bit, so don’t worry if you see it starting to sink.

Remove the cooled cake from the pan. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with another walnut or two. Lovely!

IMG_0610

Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies.

I found these cookies on smitten kitchen, and today was the perfect day to try them out. One thing that makes these so special is that, since the batter contains roasted hazelnuts, the kitchen starts to smell good long before you start the actual baking! And here’s a heads-up on a possible future post: I think my sister was on to something when she pointed out that this batter would make a heavenly pie crust.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup hazelnuts
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup brown rice flour (all-purpose flour works just fine, too)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
handful of chocolate chips/discs/whatever shape your baking chocolate is

DIRECTIONS

Heat a pan on medium high and roast hazelnuts until fragrant but not browned or burned. Spread them out on a cutting board or sheet pan to cool.

In a food processor, pulse together cooled hazelnuts, sugar, flour, and salt until it reaches the texture of a not-quite-fine powder.

Transfer nuts and flour to a mixing bowl and stir in butter, egg, and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 45 minutes to firm.

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Remove dough from the fridge, form into balls, arrange on cookie sheet, and place back in the fridge to cool for another 15 minutes.

Remove dough from fridge. Make a small, shallow indentation in the center of each cookie and fill with chocolate (chips, discs, whatever). Place on middle rack and bake for about 12 minutes, until firm in the middle and golden around the bottom. When the cookies are done, remove them from the oven but let them cool on their baking sheet, without touching them, for 5 minutes, so that they firm up and hold together. Enjoy with a cup of hot chocolate or a glass of red wine!