Amy Chaplin’s chocolate hazelnut layer cake (vegan)

17th July 2019

Turning 50 requires a very special cake!

This cake is quite a journey, much of the time is in the preparation; removing the skin from the hazelnuts and pitting the cherries, once your past these steps it is easy from there onwards. The cake batter with the addition of the ground toasted hazelnuts makes it special and the cherry filling pairs well with the chocolate and nuts, adding a burst of tangy-sweet flavour.

Use fresh cherries when available, and save some to garnish the top.

NOTE

  • I recommend making all three components; chocolate ganache, cake and cherry filling in the morning and putting in the fridge for 2-3 hours to firm up, then assembling in the afternoon.
  • When making the chocolate ganache, it is important the agar flakes are very well dissolved. See note below.
  • The recipe makes more cherry filling than needed, use the leftovers to spoon over the cake when serving.

 

chocolate hazelnut layer cake with cherry filling and chocolate ganache

Recipe from ‘At Home in the Wholefoods Kitchen’ by Amy Chaplin.

‘For best results with the frosting, make it a day ahead, so it has plenty of time to cool and set. Be sure to assemble the cake when all components are completely cool. I recommend assembling it on either a round cardboard cake base or the bottom of a springform cake pan. This makes it easier to decorate the sides with hazelnuts, holding the base of the cake with one hand and pressing nuts into the sides with the other.‘ – Amy Chaplin

Makes 1 tall 8-inch cake

Equipment – Two 8-inch cake pans

chocolate ganache

2 x 400ml can unsweetened full-fat coconut milk (13.5FL OZ each)

¼ cup/70g maple syrup

5 Tbsp agar flakes (I added 1 tsp more)

Pinch fine rock salt

¾ cup/100g dark chocolate(70%), broken into pieces (3½ OZ) (I used 55%)

½ cup fresh orange juice, strained (I used ¼ cup maple & ¼ cup orange juice) 

4 tsp vanilla extract

cake

2 cups/300g toasted hazelnuts*, skin removed – divided

2 cups/240g whole-spelt flour – divided

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ cup/50g cocoa powder

1 cup/200g boiling water

¼ cup/25g ground flaxseeds

½ cup/100g melted coconut oil

1½ cups/420g maple syrup

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

½ tsp fine rock salt

cherry filling

2½ cups/425g pitted cherries, fresh or frozen

1 Tbsp maple syrup

¼ tsp cinnamon

Pinch fine rock salt

¾ tsp arrowroot powder

2 tsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp almond extract

½ cup/130g unsweetened black cherry jam (I used sweetened)

make the ganache

1.  In a medium saucepan over high heat whisk together the coconut milk, maple syrup, agar flakes, and salt, bring up to the boil, whisking frequently. Cover pot, reduce heat to low – simmer for 20 minutes, whisking every 5 minutes. Check that the agar flakes are very well dissolved.*

2.  Remove from heat, add chocolate, and re-cover the pot for 2 minutes, then thoroughly whisk until completely smooth.

3.  Pour into a shallow bowl, and allow to cool, then place in the fridge until completely hard and set – approximately 1 – 2 hours.

4.  Cut the ganache into rough 1-inch pieces and place in a food processor with orange juice and vanilla: blend until smooth. Scrape down the sides as necessary, and check for unblended lumps. If the frosting separates, just keep blending until it comes together again – it can take up to 5 minutes. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for 1 hour before frosting the cake.

make the cake

5.  Preheat oven to 180C/350F. Oil cake pans and line bottom of each with a baking paper circle – set aside.

6.  Place ⅔ cup/90g toasted hazelnuts in a food processor and ¼ cup/30g spelt flour – blend until finely ground, about 30 seconds.

7.  Place in a medium bowl with remaining 1¾ cups spelt flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir with a whisk to combine, and set aside.

8.  In another medium bowl, whisk the cocoa and boiling water until smooth, add flax seeds, coconut oil, maple syrup, vinegar, and salt – whisk to emulsify, then add flour mixture, whisk to mix batter.

9.  Divide the batter between cake pans (approximately 560g each) and bake for 35 – 40 minutes or until the cake pulls away from the pan. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

make the filling

10.  Combine the cherries, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt in a small pot, bring to boil over high heat, then cover and reduce heat to low – cook fresh cherries for 10 – 15 minutes or until softened and juicy or frozen for 5 minutes.

11.  Dissolve arrowroot in water and drizzle into simmering cherries; stir constantly until it thickens slightly and returns to a simmer. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and almond extract and jam. Pour in a shallow bowl, and refrigerate to cool.

assemble the cake

12.  Spread remaining 1⅓ cups toasted hazelnuts out on a rimmed baking sheet, lined with baking paper and crush them with a rolling pin – set aside.

13.  Run a butter knife around the edge of one of the cake pan and invert onto an 8-inch cardboard cake base, remove the paper and spread the surface with 1 cup frosting.

14.  Top with some cherry filling and spread out, leaving a ½-inch border around the edges.

15.  Invert second cake onto a flat surface, remove baking paper and slide the cake onto the bottom layer. Frost top and sides with remaining frosting and press crushed hazelnuts into sides of the cake.

Garnish with fresh cherries, and place in the fridge until ready to serve. It will improve after a few hours as the flavours settle, and can even spend the night in the fridge.

* To toast the hazelnuts, spread onto a baking tray and bake for 10-12 minutes.  While they are still warm, rub the nuts in a towel to remove the skins.   Inevitably there will be some skins that refuse to peel away, but no matter.  

* When checking to see if the agar flakes are completely dissolved, take a spoonful of hot liquid and slowly pour it back into the pot; you will be able to see any flakes that have not dissolved on the spoon. They can be small so look carefully. Re-cover the pot, and continue simmering until no flakes appear.

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