“If baking is any labour at all, it’s a labour of love. A love that gets passed from generation to generation” – Regina Brett
Another week, another cake. Like so many, I have a compulsive sweet tooth. Always have, always will. I feel such a strong gravitational pull towards the eating and baking of all sweet things. This is particular true when it comes to home-baked goods.
Why home-baked goods you may ask? Perhaps it is because my mother – always made time to have freshly baked cakes or treats available when I was a child. At our house, home-baking ruled. Little treats made with love frequented everyday lunch boxes and afternoon teas. Or perhaps it is because when we visited my grandparents, we always indulged in an endless array of European delicacies – baked from scratch. Either way, I have a lot of fond memories that revolve around home-baked goods.
This brings me to these Miniature Beurre Noisette and Hazelnut Cakes… delicious, home-baked cakes. Ones that are rich with beurre noisette and the nutty, roasted flavour of hazelnuts. Oh and spiked with a bit of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur too. They are utterly moist, lightly crumbed and have quite a brilliant browned and crisp crust, due to the high proportion of butter. They’re really, really delightful.
I took the recipe for a burnt butter hazelnut cake and made it small. I kept the skins on the hazelnuts, so that when they were processed into a fine meal, a nuttier and coarse hazelnut texture remained. And I added a splash of Frangelico too – barely there, but apparent enough to entice your palate. I then baked the cakes in tiny canneles shaped copper tins and topped each one with a drizzle of Frangelico liqueur icing, some hazelnut praline and dainty baby’s breath flowers. Divine.
Of course, cakes in miniature form might not be your thing. You may prefer your cakes big… slices thick, rich and chunky. If this is the case, you can bake this recipe up in a bundt pan or round tin. It even can be made into a small muffin, friand or financier form. Then generously glazed and decorated. Either way, the taste remains consistently delectable.
Easy to make, and made with love, these Miniature Beurre Noisette and Hazelnut Cakes are delicate, light and nutty delicious. If you like me, love home-baking… then make these miniature cakes. They are too good.
- 250 g / 9 oz. unsalted butter
- 2 ½ cups / 225 g / 8 oz. light brown sugar
- 1 cup / 125 g / 4 ½ oz. hazelnuts, skins on
- 1 ½ cups / 175 g / 6 oz. plain flour
- 3 ½ tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 5 medium eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. Frangelico or hazelnut liqueur / optional
- ½ cup caster sugar
- 1 tbsp. water
- A drop of lemon juice
- ¾ cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins on
- 2 cups / 250 g / 9 oz. icing sugar
- 4 tbsp. Frangelico or hazelnut liqueur / optional
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 25 g / 1 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 C / 335 F. Grease and flour the canneles molds (or desired shape) and set aside.
- Melt the butter over a medium to high heat and simmer it so it begins to foam. The butter will start to turn a deep golden brown colour and smell nutty. Pass the browned butter through a sieve and into a clean bowl and stir in the brown sugar. Set aside to cool.
- Spread the hazelnuts onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool slightly then transfer into a food processor. Finely grind the hazelnuts into a coarse meal – being careful to avoid over-processing as the mixture will become greasy and will clump.
- In a separate large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Transfer the cooled butter mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, or with electric beaters, beat the butter, eggs, vanilla and liqueur until just combined. Gradually add in the flour mixture and beat to combine. Finally, add in the hazelnut meal.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared molds, ⅔rds of the way full. If baking in canneles or small molds, bake the cakes for 15 to 20 minutes or if baking a larger cake, bake for 35 to 40 minutes – or until la skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before inverting out onto a wire rack and leaving to cool completely. Once cool, level any domed tops.
- While the cakes are cooling, make the hazelnut praline. Gently heat the caster sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Swirl the pan a little to spread the water to start and make sure all the crystals are covered with water as the pot begins to heat. Cook until the mixture begins to colour around the edges – roughly 6 to 8 minutes, swirling the pot to stop the sugar burning in patches. Once golden, add the hazelnuts, then remove from heat and pour quickly onto a lined baking tray. Separate the hazelnuts with a fork and leave to cool completely before breaking into shards.
- To make the icing, beat the icing sugar, liqueur (if using) or 4 tbsp. of water and butter in a bowl until smooth. The icing should be quite opaque but thin enough to run down the sides of the cakes. Once ready to serve, transfer the cakes to a serving platter or stand. Drizzle with a generous amount of icing and decorated with praline and edible flowers.