nutmeg-spiced hazelnut cake with chocolate ganache

I recently celebrated a birthday at the end of January.  Naturally, I was reminded of all the pool parties I couldn't have as a child since my actual birthday is usually quite cold and rainy (or snowy).  There are in fact some upsides to a Winter birthday, especially if like me, you enjoy cold weather and warm, spiced desserts.  Cake made of roasted hazelnuts is definitely one of them.


Generally, I'm not really one for a real "classic" birthday cake.  I don't particularly enjoy frosting or super sugary desserts (I know, who am I?).  This cake completely seduces me, though.  I originally adapted it from Smitten Kitchen, made it gluten-free and added some freshly grated nutmeg.  If you're planning any special occasion baking anytime soon, this is a sure show-stopper.  It may even cure your childhood resentments and/or winter blues.




1 heaping cup raw hazelnuts

1/2 pound butter (or earth balance)

1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose flour

5 large egg whites (or egg replacer)

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon xanthum gum

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped fine

1/2 cup heavy cream or coconut cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Roast hazelnuts on a baking sheet for 12-15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Add butter to saucepan over low to medium heat.  Cook 6-8 minutes or until it smells nutty.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, xanthum gum, powdered sugar and nutmeg.  Add this mixture with hazelnuts to food processor or blender.  Mix a little at a time and pulse into flour.  Add flour back to bowl and set aside.

4.  Place egg white in a stand mixer and beat on high speed for 4-5 minutes or until they have stiff peaks.  (For egg replacer, do this same step, but mixture will not get as fluffy).

5.  Fold egg whites into flour mixure making sure to combine well, but not overstir.  Add to greased cake pan (bundt, layer cake, etc) and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Set aside to cool.

6.  As cake cools, double broil chocolate with vanilla.  Stir mixture as the chocolate melts.  Remove from stove and let cool.  To serve, drizzle or cover entire cake with chocolate ganache.  Top with dusting of powdered sugar and freshly grated nutmeg.