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Friday 28 June 2013

Let Her Eat Cake: Hazelnut Praline Cream Cake

Praline cream cake? It's as decadent as wallowing in a paddling pool full of champagne.

If Oliver Cromwell were still around, he'd probably try and have this cake banned. Along with Christmas. Boo hiss Oliver Cromwell.

But luckily, here at DSHQ we love a bit of wanton baking (and wonton making). Especially if it involves praline, which to me, makes everything taste a bit like Ferrero Rocher. Only ever a good thing. But if you're not such a fan of the mightiest of chocolate eighties party treats, then you could replace the chopped hazelnuts in the cake with ground almonds, and add a splash of amaretto to the cream to make an almond-y cream cake.

There he goes. Cromwell turning in his grave again...

Hazelnut Praline Cream Cake
You will need:
For the praline
  • 100g whole hazelnuts
  • 100g caster sugar
For the cake
  • 175g butter, softened
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 25g chopped hazelnuts
For the filling and topping
  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod (scored with a sharp knife to remove the seeds) or a few drops vanilla essence
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 25g white chocolate
  • Fresh raspberries (optional)
Make it!
The praline:
  1. Place 100g of sugar in a saucepan over a low heat. Leave until melting, swirling the pan occasionally but DO NOT stir, no matter how tempting it is. 
  2. Meanwhile, give the hazelnuts a quick toast in a dry frying pan, a minute or two should be enough. Watch that they don't burn. 
  3. When the sugar has completely melted, tip in the hazelnuts and stir quickly until completely covered. 
  4. Spread immediately onto a piece of kitchen foil and leave to harden. 
The cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Lightly grease and line a 20cm round cake tin. 
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. 
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a teaspoon of flour with each to help the mixture stay smooth. 
  4. Gently fold in the remainder of the flour and baking powder, taking care not to over mix. 
  5. When just combined, stir in the chopped hazelnuts. 
  6. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes until risen and a skewer comes out clean. 
  7. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 
The filling and topping:
  1. With the help of a rolling pin and a clean tea towel, break the hardened praline into small chunks. (Be careful if trying to break them by hand: I didn't know it was possible to cut yourself on sugar. How wrong I was)
  2. Place the pieces into a blender and pulse until the praline has reached the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Transfer to a smaller bowl. (If you don't have a blender, you could try placing the praline pieces in a zip-lock bag and beating the crap out of it with a rolling pin. The texture won't be so even, but at least you'll have worked out some aggression). 
  3. In a large bowl, add the vanilla to the cream and whip until it has stiffened into soft peaks. 
  4. Stir in around 4 tbsp of the praline, along with the icing sugar, until combined. 
  5. Carefully cut your cake in half. 
  6. Spread the bottom half of the cake with some of the praline cream, grating a little white chocolate over the surface. Dot a few fresh raspberries around and sandwich the other layer on top. 
  7. Spread the remaining cream over the top and sides of the cake. 
  8. Using the rest of the praline, decorate the top, adding more grated white chocolate and raspberries to finish.

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