Right now I am in a dreamy state after sampling and photographing this incredible cake! If you need a special dessert and you’re a hazelnut fan, you should seriously consider taking the time to whip this up. You will thank me for the rest of your life.
For the month of January Jelena from A Kingdom for a Cake invited us to start this year with a dreamy celebration cake. She challenged us to make the Esterhazy cake a.k.a the Hungarian dream. What better way to start the year than with a sweet dream?
I struggle to find the right words to describe this to you. The dacquoise layers are thin and spongy. The filling is dangerously luscious. When layered together into a tower of sweetness, frosted with a thin white icing and encrusted with toasted hazelnuts it becomes truly amazing. It’s so good, y’all. Just. So. Good.
I made this cake over 2 days, which is what Jelena said to do and I’d recommend you do as well. It could be done in a day if you started in the morning, though. I made both the cakes and the filling on the first day and assembled it on the next. I left the cakes at room temperature (uncovered) and the filling I refrigerated overnight. The next day I let it come to room temperature, and then whipped it up before using it.
The original recipe makes a 10 inch torte with 4 layers. I halved the recipe mainly because it calls for almost 5 cups of ground hazelnuts and I didn’t have enough. But this 4 inch darling is the perfect size when you’re not making this for a crowd but just for few people. A halved recipe yielded 9 4-inch layers. I originally intended to use them all, but after stacking up 6 I thought it was tall enough. I also wouldn’t have had quite enough filling for 3 more layers. The recipe below is halved, so double it to make a larger cake. The layers will need longer to bake as well, about 15 minutes.
Whenever I make something like this I wonder why I don’t do it more often! It’s time consuming for sure, but it is so fun to see the different components come together. And the rewards are great.
Begin with the cake layers.
Layer with the hazelnut filling. Try your best to make it level.
Leave the top layer unfrosted.
Top with parchment and a heavy book and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Frost the outside, keeping things as even as you can. Chill again for about 30 minutes.
Prepare the chocolate and then the white icing. Pour the icing on top and even it out. Let the excess drip down the sides.
Draw three circles with the chocolate on the wet icing and use a skewer to make a web design.
Even out the white icing on the sides (it doesn’t need to cover completely) then press the reserved hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
Refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing and serving.
Thanks, Jelena, for such a lovely and delicious challenge! This is definitely something I’ll be breaking out to impress guests soon.
Hazelnut Cake Layers
- 6 egg whites
- 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 1 1/4 cup ground hazelnuts
- 1/3 cup flour
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 11 tablespoons butter, softened
- 3/4 cup ground hazelnuts
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 3-4 tablespoons hot water
- 2 ounces chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts
- With an electric mixer beat the egg whites while gradually adding the sugar for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.
- Turn the mixer to the lowest speed and add in the hazelnuts mixed with the flour and beat until just combined.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Use a 4-inch plate or cookie cutter to trace 4 circles per sheet.
- Turn the paper over and delicately spoon the batter evenly into the circles.
- Place the tray into an preheated 325°F oven and bake for 10 minutes. It will look soft but that is what you want. Your finger should not stick to the layer when you touch it.
- Take the layer out together with the paper and place on an even surface to cool.
- Repeat with the other tray.
- Use a double boiler, or a pot with a bowl that fits on top. Fill the larger pot with water so that the bowl, when placed in the pot, does not touch the water. Place on the stove. Bring water to a simmer.
- Beat the egg yolks and the sugar with an electric mixer in the bowl for 30 seconds. Place the bowl into the pot one and cook for 14-15 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes for a short while with a wooden spoon always scraping the sides and the bottom. Stir constantly, near the end. The mixture should be thick and smooth. Let cool.
- Beat the cooled egg yolk mixture with a mixer for 1 minute, then beat in the butter until light and fluffy. Mix in the hazelnuts. Use or refrigerate.
- Whisk together the powdered sugar, oil and water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach a thick but pourable consistency. Set aside.
- Microwave chocolate and oil in 20 second increments, whisking in between, until mixture is smooth. Place in a plastic bag for piping.
- Place a cake round on serving platter or cake plate. Spread with filling, then repeat with the remaining layers leaving the top one unfrosted. Chill for 1 hour.
- Spread filling around the sides of the cake and chill again for 30 minutes.
- Pour some, but not all, of the white frosting on the top and smooth, then pipe 3 circles on the top and use a skewer to make a web design.
- Use more white icing to spread a thin layer around the sides of the cake.
- Press the hazelnuts into the sides of the cake.
- Chill for at least an hour before slicing and serving.