I Got It Right: Brown Butter Hazelnut Cake with Blackberry Sauce

hazelnut cake 3

Once I thought I had this novel idea about hazelnuts. For some reason, I really wanted to try and make a hazelnut mousse. Not, like, a chocolate hazelnut mousse like Nutella, but just straight up hazelnut. Imagine the flavor of hazelnut in a fluffy, creamy mousse. Omheavens.

Anyway, I haven’t done it yet. I thought I was being so original, the only person in this world to separate chocolate and hazelnut. And then I heard about this cake. And for over a year, I have deliriously desired to make it.

Hazelnut. And brown butter. And no chocolate added. It is my dream come true.

hazelnut cake 2

I put off my dream for an age because I was loathe to buy that amount of hazelnuts. They so expensif. BUT THEN. I found hazelnuts at HomeGoods, which were cheaper than buying nuts at the regular grocery store. And already peeled, imagine that. So I had no excuse. And at that point, I didn’t even want an excuse anymore. I’m sick of all my lame excuses to not make the best cake ever conceived.

Oh wait, one more lame excuse + lame story. Once I ate a whole hazelnut out of my mum’s drink at Applebee’s of all places, must’ve been around 11, and my throat swelled up, and I thought I was allergic for a number of years. Somehow by my own might and willpower, I have overcome this detrimental health condition. But even if I hadn’t, I would still make and eat this cake.

hazelnut cake 5

I also found this special vanilla bean/extract at HomeGoods. Not sure if you can really taste the rainbow difference, but it adds a few pretty vanilla specks to the batter and made me feel fancy, sooo impulse buy.

hazelnut cake 1

This cake requires some technique, and I really took my time and enjoyed the process. Not your standard one-bowl affair. And the result is worth every minute you spent meticulously folding in the dry ingredients. You know how I feel about folding. (Not great, but I do it out of necessity. I have to really want it. And I really want hazelnut brown butter. So.)

hazelnut cake 4

And guys, I actually spent some time plating it. With salvia, not the drug kind. And also blackberry sauce, which made it all the prettier, and was a very nice complement.

I was worried that the cake would be dry–I baked it a full 20-30 minutes less than the recipe recommended–and I thought the sauce would make up for any mishaps. Upon tasting, the cake was dense but light, if that makes sense. So the sauce, while appreciated and recommended, is unnecessary, which makes this an all seasons type ‘o cake.

Enjoy with my best,


Brown Butter Hazelnut Cake with Blackberry Sauce

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques via smitten kitchen

5 ounces  hazelnuts, toasted with dark skins removed
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting the cake
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 large egg whites
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment, then spray generously again.

Place the butter in a medium saucepan and cook the butter over medium heat until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). Frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Set aside to cool. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Grind the hazelnuts with the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor (or Magic Bullet, if you’re me) until finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl, then whisk in the flour.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the granulated sugar and mix on high speed 4 to 5 minutes, until the mixture forms very stiff peaks. When you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks should hold.

Alternate folding the dry ingredients and the brown butter into the egg whites, a third at a time. Scrape all the brown bits out of the bottom of the butter pan–it adds so much flavor.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Mine was done at 30, though the original recipe suggests 50-60 minutes! Cool on a rack 30 minutes (my cake shrunk fairly significantly during this time). Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, and invert the cake onto a plate. Peel off the paper, and turn the cake back over onto a serving platter. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar and blackberry sauce (recipe follows).

Blackberry Sauce

6 ounces blackberries (if frozen, defrost slightly in the microwave)

squeeze of lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

Process all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove blackberry seeds. Let chill in the fridge for a bit to thicken.

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