Hazelnuts of Piemonte have been granted IGP status and this covers the provinces of Alessandria, Asti, Cuneo, Novara, Turin and Vercelli. Next week here in Alba, there's going to be 4 day festival celebrating this much loved nut so to get into the mood, I'll be making one of the more traditional cakes of the area - a hazelnut and chocolate cake.
When it comes to choosing the chocolate component, well I have to go with another local product - Ferraro Bitter Cocoa.
There's a massive factory just outside of town and there's a delightful side effect of its presence - depending on the day, in the morning the smell of hot chocolate can fill the air and just last week, I'm sure the city smelt like a huge chocolate orange!
150 grams hazelnuts, toasted & skinned, ground
150 grams flour
50 grams cocoa powder
1 sachet baking powder (1 sachet=16 grams=3 teaspoons)
150 grams raw sugar
100 grams butter, melted and cooled
Beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder together - add this to the creamed eggs, followed by the ground hazelnuts. Drizzle in the butter and fold through adding enough milk to form a spoonable batter.
Pour into a lined 24cm springform tin and bake in a pre-heated 170°C oven for about 30 to 40 minutes or until firm and cooked through.
Let it cool for a few minutes before running a spatula around the the edge of the tin to make sure the cake has separated from the pan. When cold, finish with a dusting of icing sugar.