Vegan Torta Gianduia (Chocolate Hazelnut Cake)

Long-term readers of this blog will know that I love a Eurovision-inspired bake, and this one is a belter! Researching the host country’s traditional recipes and deciding which one to use can take some time – but not this year, as Eurovision is beamed live to your tellybox from Turin, Italy. This is very happy-making for me as I knew that one of the foodstuffs of the gods originates from Turin: gianduia. What’s that then, I hear you ask?

Gianduia (or gianduja) is the most sumptuous chocolate created from ground hazelnuts and cocoa. It is used to create little foil-wrapped truffles and a chocolatey hazelnut spread with which we are all familiar. The original Nutella, if you like.

My Torta Gianduia contains a combination of ground hazelnuts, cocoa and chocolate hazelnut spread from a jar (a dash in the batter and a mountain for the topping!). There are a number of spreads suitable for vegans, check the jar for suitability but avoid Nutella as it contains dairy. I highly recommend Vego or Nature’s Store.

I first made this cake during Lockdown, inspired by a little box of gianduia truffles I ate to soothe the prospect of societal collapse. I was so happy with how it turned out (the cake, not the pandemic, obviously!) It makes a lovely weekend treat, but would also be suitable for a grown-up birthday cake.

This Torta Gianduia comfortably serves 8. You will need an 8″ cake tin, ideally springform or a Push-Pan, oiled and lined with baking paper. Like most vegan cakes, this is a simple wet-to-dry method.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes.

For the wet mix:

175g plain soya yogurt
50g vegan chocolate hazelnut spread such as Vego or Nature’s Store
75g light olive oil
2 tbsp Frangelico or rum (optional – replace with any non-dairy milk if not using)
1 tsp natural vanilla extract

For the dry mix:

150g soft light brown sugar
125g plain flour
100g ground hazelnuts
25g cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder

For the topping:

150g vegan chocolate hazelnut spread
Big handful of whole hazelnuts (60-70g approx)

1. Preheat the oven to 180c / 350f / gas mark 4 / 160c fan oven. Allow some time for the oven to get nice and hot before starting to make this cake, as it won’t take long and you will need to get it in the oven immediately.

2. Using a small hand-held whisk and a large jug, combine all of the wet ingredients: the yogurt, chocolate hazelnut spread, light olive oil, Frangelico or rum (or non-dairy milk) and the vanilla. Set aside.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, stir together all of the dry ingredients: the soft light brown sugar, plain flour, ground hazelnuts, cocoa powder and baking powder.

4. When your dry mixture looks sandy and light brown as shown, stir in the wet mixture. A spatula is best for this, and remember to stir down the sides and scrape the bottom to ensure all the dry mixture is thoroughly combined.

5. Now transfer to your prepared tin and get it in the oven without delay. I find exactly 40 minutes is perfect in my oven, but use a cake tester or skewer to check after 35 minutes. Damp crumbs are fine, but if there’s any signs of wet batter, return to the oven for a few more minutes.

6. When ready, transfer the tin to a wire rack and leave until just cool enough to handle. Carefully slide a palette knife around the edge of the cake to loosen and release the cake from its tin.

7. Wait until the cake is completely cold before applying the topping, which is the easiest thing in the world.  Simply smother the chocolate hazelnut spread generously all over the top, and scatter hazelnuts (or arrange with geometric precision) as you please.

This cake will keep very well for a few days in an airtight tub.

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