Passionate about forging meaningful relationships with like-minded suppliers to ensure they’re connecting with the ingredients, The Exploding Bakery have become particularly renowned for their brownies. Their Nutcracker Cake, on the other hand, is a festive take ok a classic Italian hazelnut torte (torta di nocciole), packed with nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts, and ground almonds – hence the name. It’s also livened up with a splash of brandy or frangelico, while dark chocolate and candied orange peel also bring plenty of Christmas-appropriate richness to the final result.
“Someone once said they hate Christmas food, and if it was that good we’d eat it all year round. I guess all the marzipan, dried fruit, mixed spice and heavy theme can be a bit too much. This version of an Italian hazelnut torte (torta di nocciole) is a light relief from a suet based pudding and heavy pastry, although packed with nuts and rather dense, somehow feels like a lighter option and delicious served with clotted cream.
“The cake begins its life in the form of a zabaglione, kind of a light and frothy Italian custard with booze, but then the heavy stuff is dumped in like a cement mixer filling in the foundations. Out of the rubble comes this architectural beauty with the class and elegance concreted in the structure and the nuts glistening like terrazzo tiles. Forgive the name, it’s just a reference to Christmas and the sheer amounts of nuts found in the cake, we’re sure Tchaikovsky and his fellow Russians would approve.”
- 6 eggs
- 50 ml Somerset cider brandy or frangelico or just raid the drinks cabinet optional
- 100 g caster sugar
- 100 g soft light brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 300 g dark chocolate
- 100 g butter
- 250 g whole hazelnuts blitzed
- 250 g walnut pieces blitzed
- 100 g ground almonds
- 10 g cinnamon
- 50 g candied orange peel finely chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- 15 g icing sugar or as much as you like
- Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat furiously until foaming at the sides, then add both sugars bit by bit, along with the vanilla and the booze if you fancy adding that.
- Melt the chocolate and butter together and once melted slowly add to the egg mixture while the mixer is still beating. Things should emulsify into a sea of glossy goodness.
- Put the hazelnuts and walnut pieces in a food processor (don’t worry about the nut skins, a touch of bitterness brings balance). Whizz the machine on and off until the mixture becomes a gravelly texture (it doesn’t matter if some hazelnuts are still whole). If you don’t have a food processor, try smashing the nuts in a tea towel with a rolling pin.
- Add the broken nuts to a large mixing bowl along with the ground almonds and cinnamon. If it’s not already diced into small pieces, cut the candied orange peel into little bits, then add to the bowl too, along with the salt.
- Transfer the beaten egg and chocolate mixture to the mixing bowl and stir through the nuts so everything is coated and even. Pour all the mixture into your lined tray and bake for 30 minutes at 150C. Turn the oven down slightly if the cake is browning too quickly or cover with foil and bake for a further 5 or 10 minutes. Stick a knife in the middle of the cake and it should come out clean.
- Leave to cool and transfer out of the tray. Dust generously with icing sugar and if you really want to, add some hideous decorations or a few holly leaves.
Related: How To Make: Marzipan