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Chocolate Loaf Cake with Gianduja Ganache and Caramelized Hazelnuts

This super-moist, versatile chocolate loaf cake is slathered with rich Gianduja ganache and caramelized hazelnuts. It’s an elegant, incredibly delicious treat you’ll want to serve for any and all occasions, from picnics to birthdays. {Jump to Recipe}

Chocolate Loaf Cake with Gianduja Ganache and Caramelized Hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com

A summer picnic is probably the best way to enjoy the warmer season, yet I’m guilty of not planning one often enough. There is just no good reason why, and the cold, snow-filled winter we have just endured has made me more determined than ever to maximize this upcoming picnic season.

There are two more reasons why picnics are on my mind these days. The first is that I’ll be returning to Paris late May, and if a picnic capital had to be named, it would be the City of Lights. The shops, the food, the wine, and the parks: everything in Paris seems to have been created to allow lazy hours of drinking wine and sharing delicious treats with friends. I’ve traveled to Paris many times and even lived there for a while many years ago, and impromptu picnics that stretch well into the night are probably the fondest memories I have of my time there.

The second reason why picnics are on my mind is a brand-new cookbook. Written by chefs Shaheen Peerbhai and Jennie Levitt, Paris Picnic Club is sure to stir up alfresco dining impulses. Contrary to what the title might imply, the book doesn’t solely contain French- or Parisian-inspired recipes; rather, a wide selection of treats that incorporate flavors from around the world. The book was titled to commemorate an ambitious project Peerbhai and Levitt conducted in Paris: every Friday for a year, they would prepare picnic-style meals for their friends. Word-of-mouth soon transformed the intimate affair into a full-blown pop-up restaurant that would serve food to eighty hungry guests every week.

Paris Picnic Club Cookbook by Shaheen Peerbhai and Jennie Levitt // FoodNouveau.com

I’ve been following Shaheen Peerbhai on Instagram for many years, and I remember witnessing her going through culinary school—I lived vicariously through her Cordon Bleu training!—then carrying out the ambitious project Paris Picnic Club became. I was impressed by her and Jennie’s enthusiasm, guts, and hard work, and secretly dreamed I’d get to attend one of their events. I never made it, but now I can create and taste their food in my own kitchen, thanks to their colorful cookbook.

Chapters are divided by course: there are small plates, sharing platters, breads, tartines, and desserts, as well as a great selection of virgin drinks, wine advice, and helpful basic recipes that you will refer to again and again. I love that they also include expert picnicking tips, favorite shops, and best Paris picnic spots. I’d rank a Parisian picnic high on a list of things you should do before you die, and this book has everything to convince you to add one to your bucket list, too.

Paris Picnic Club Cookbook by Shaheen Peerbhai and Jennie Levitt // FoodNouveau.com  Paris Picnic Club Cookbook by Shaheen Peerbhai and Jennie Levitt // FoodNouveau.com

Flipping through the book for the first time, I stuck sticky notes on lots and lots of recipes, but I quickly noticed I had zeroed in on desserts, which I found especially mouth-watering and creative. The Rye and Molasses Cake with Fresh Pears, Apricot and Rosemary Tarte Tatin with Honey Cream, Tonka Brown Butter Madeleines, Chocolate Brownie Cookies with Black Sesame Salted Caramel, and Orange Fennel Cookies will all soon appear in my kitchen, but today, I’m sharing the recipe that jumped out at me first: a “Super-Moist” Chocolate Loaf Cake with Gianduja Ganache and Caramelized Hazelnuts.

Chocolate Loaf Cake with Gianduja Ganache and Caramelized Hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com

What makes the cake “super-moist” is the use of oil instead of butter, which means the chocolate loaf cake remains soft even as it comes out of the fridge (perfect for late-night cravings!). The batter also incorporates eggs, heavy cream, milk, and cocoa powder, which creates a truly lovely, quintessential chocolate cake. I like this cake so much that I’m thinking it will probably replace the classic chocolate sponge cake I’ve been making for my son’s birthday every year.

The Gianduja Ganache is a revelatory frosting. Gianduja is an Italian chocolate and hazelnut spread. Ring a bell? Yes, Nutella is a type of Gianduja spread, but if you’ve never tried to make chocolate and hazelnut spread at home, you’re in for a treat. For starters, it has nothing to do with the industrially produced spread—in fact, I’d say it’s an entirely different thing. Homemade Gianduja is so rich and nutty and deeply flavored, and yet, for all those outstanding qualities, it’s not even hard to make. The authors provide clever tips for making a smoother spread; for instance, they advise you to process the nuts while they’re still warm from being toasted in the oven. Warm hazelnuts turn to a paste more easily than cold ones. The ganache is sweetened with icing sugar, which makes it more indulgent and closer in taste to a frosting—if you tasted it blindly, you’d swear there’s butter in there. The result is a spread you’ll want to eat by the spoonful, so you’ll be happy to learn the recipe produces more than you’ll need to frost the chocolate loaf cake. Jar it and enjoy sweet, chocolatey breakfasts for days to come!

Chocolate Loaf Cake with Gianduja Ganache and Caramelized Hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com

You could consider the Caramelized Hazelnuts optional, but they’re a delightful finishing touch. The recipe actually has you making praline, boiling sugar, adding the nuts, spreading it and letting it harden, but stopping before you would normally grind the candied nuts to produce the fine powder that pastry chefs use in chocolates and cakes. Decorate the chocolate loaf cake with the caramelized hazelnuts for a spectacular effect, and make sure to add a generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt for that truly addictive savory touch.

Chocolate Loaf Cake with Gianduja Ganache and Caramelized Hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com

I’ll be making this chocolate loaf cake again and again—though I’ve promised myself to bake it in a square pan the next time around, if only to allow me to increase the Gianduja-Ganache-to-cake ratio! If you’re indeed considering making this chocolate loaf cake for a picnic, I’m also thinking a thinner cake would allow you to pre-slice it into squares, making it easier to transport and serve. Either way, take my word for it: this cake will delight you and everyone you offer a piece to. 

Chocolate Loaf Cake with Gianduja Ganache and Caramelized Hazelnuts // FoodNouveau.com

Makes 1 loaf cake, serves 10 to 12.

Chocolate Loaf Cake with Gianduja Ganache and Caramelized Hazelnuts

This super-moist, versatile chocolate loaf cake is slathered with rich Gianduja ganache and caramelized hazelnuts. It's an elegant, incredibly delicious treat you'll want to serve for any and all occasions, from picnics to birthdays.

45 minPrep Time

1 hr, 15 Cook Time

2 hrTotal Time

Save Recipe

INGREDIENTS

For the chocolate loaf cake
1½ cups (375 ml/160 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup + 2 tbsp (155 ml/60 g) dark cocoa powder
1 tsp (5 ml/2 g) baking powder
2 eggs
1¼ cups (310 ml/250 g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 ml/50 g) neutral-tasting oil such as grapeseed or sunflower, or hazelnut oil, if you have it on hand
½ cup (125 ml/100 g) heavy whipping cream (35% m.f.)
¾ cup (180 ml/180 g) whole milk
For the Gianduja ganache
1 cup (250 ml/130 g) toasted hazelnuts (see note)
¾ cup (180 ml/120 g) powdered sugar (also called icing, or confectioners’ sugar)
4 oz (112 g) dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup (250 ml/240 g) heavy whipping cream (35% m.f.)
For the caramelized hazelnuts
½ cup (125 ml/65 g) toasted hazelnuts (see note)
¼ cup (60 ml/50 g) granulated sugar
To serve

METHOD

For the chocolate loaf cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Lightly grease a loaf pan with cooking spray or butter, then line with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, and baking powder. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer, beat the eggs with the sugar until lighter in color. Pour the oil into the bowl while continuing to beat the egg mixture. Once all the oil is incorporated, reduce the speed and pour in the cream and the milk. Decrease the mixer’s speed to low, then mix in the flour mixture until incorporated. With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to incorporate any unmixed flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60 to 80 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (The authors specify 50 to 60 minutes, but my chocolate loaf cake took 80 minutes to fully set.) Transfer to a cooling rack. (You can prepare the cake up to a day in advance: let cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator or at room temperature until ready to serve.)

For the Gianduja ganache: Add the toasted hazelnuts to the bowl of a food processor and grind into a paste. First, the hazelnuts will be reduced to a powder, then the powder will clump up and then finally transform into a fluid paste. At this stage, add the powdered sugar and continue to process until the mixture forms a smooth, thick paste.

Transfer the hazelnut paste to a bowl, then add the chocolate. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer, then pour it over the chocolate-hazelnut mixture. Let rest for a minute, then stir until all the chocolate has melted and the hazelnut paste incorporated into a thick, shiny ganache.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the surface of the ganache. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or overnight. (You can prepare the ganache up to 3 days in advance and keep it refrigerated, tightly covered, until ready to use.)

For the caramelized hazelnuts: Set a silicon baking mat or a parchment paper-lined baking sheet clove to the stove. Put the sugar to a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook it over medium heat. The sugar will begin to melt and then turn light golden. Stir it so it is evenly colored and continue to cook until the sugar is deep golden and the edges show signs of bubbling (this won’t take long.) Add the toasted hazelnuts at this point and stir to coat the nuts in the caramel. Continue to cook for another minute, or until the nuts are fragrant and the caramel turns to a beautiful amber color. Turn the nuts out onto the silicon baking mat or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. You can use two forks to separate the nuts while the caramel is still soft. Let cool completely. When the caramelized hazelnuts are completely cool, store them in an airtight container until ready to use. (The caramelized hazelnuts will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.)

SERVING

Take the Gianduja ganache out of the refrigerator 30 minutes in advance. Using a hand mixer or a fork, lightly beat the ganache just to fluff it back up and make it easier to spread. Unmold the chocolate loaf cake and peel off the parchment paper. Transfer the cake to a serving board or plate. With the help of a small offset spatula, spread a thick layer of the ganache on top of the cake. Garnish with caramelized hazelnuts and a generous pinch of flaky sea salt. Slice and serve to your happy guests.

STORAGE

Store any leftover cake in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days. You can also store leftover Gianduja ganache in a glass jar and refrigerate for up to a week.

NOTE

How to toast and peel hazelnuts: Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, and bake at 350°F [170°C] for 15 minutes, giving the tray a good shake every five minutes. When the hazelnuts’ skin is shiny and crackled, remove from the oven and transfer to a clean dish towel. Close the towel up into a bundle and rub the hazelnuts against one another vigorously to remove the skin. Open the towel and pick up the peeled hazelnuts. Some bits of skin will remain and that’s ok, simply make sure to discard all the loose papery bits. Keep the peeled hazelnuts in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

Recipe Credit: Shaheen Peerbhai and Jennie Levitt, Paris Picnic Club. Adapted with permission.

http://foodnouveau.com/recipes/desserts/chocolate/chocolate-loaf-cake-gianduja-ganache/

The giveaway is over. Thanks everyone for entering!

Win a copy of the Paris Picnic Club Cookbook!

How to Win

  • Mandatory: Leave a comment saying what’s your favorite picnic food!
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  • The giveaway ends Monday, April 30, 2018, at midnight EST.

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Disclosure notice: I was offered a copy of Paris Picnic Club and the opportunity to host a giveaway on my blog by the publisher, Sterling Epicure. As always, companies never dictate the content I create, or the opinions I express. I only use products I genuinely believe in or feature books I truly love. This post also contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Disclosure Policy.

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What do you think of this recipe? Got any questions? Let's chat!
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29 Responses to Chocolate Loaf Cake with Gianduja Ganache and Caramelized Hazelnuts

  1. I could swear those were chickpeas on the top of the cake and I was like “waaaaaaat”, but phew, they’re not. The recipe does look delicious, can’t wait to try it. :)

  2. A Tuna Niscoise salad sandwich. Or just an open face tartine of some sort. With a nice iced beverage. And something sweet of course.

  3. Simple BLT sandwiches, fruit salad, and sweet tea or fresh squeezed lemonade are my favs to have at a pinic.

  4. Crazy with all the delightful food we have nowadays but I like watercress sandwiches, fresh fruit, cheese, and wine & water. A brownie would be an added treat.

  5. Love having a nice baguette with ham, mustard and cheese and a piece of pie or cake. And of course some white or rose wine.

  6. This looks so moist and yummy!! Can’t wait to try it. Honestly never baked with hazelnut and am not even sure where to find them… Hopefully my local grocery market has them. My new favorite picnic food/dessert would have to be Black Bean Brownies. I love to cook and recently got into baking so would really appreciate winning the Paris Picnic Club book for more ideas and inspiration!! Thx for sharing the recipe and your tips!

    • You’ll find hazelnuts in any and all supermarkets! Look in the baking aisle, it’ll be alongside other nuts and dried fruits. They’re sometimes labeled “filberts” and you’ll usually find them raw and with their dark brown skin on.

      • Hi Marie! Thanks for your reply. I did find some chopped hazelnuts and made the recipe! The ganache was delicious. The cake also had good flavor but was a bit on the dry side. I’m wondering if it could have been that I only used measuring cups (instead of using a scale) and possibly used too much flour. Do you have a preference for flour brand? I usually use King Arthur. Thank you!!

  7. Looks fantastic! I’d say my favourite picnic food is dessert, such as a tart. And maybe some lemonade too!

  8. My favourite picnic food… tough call of course, but I miiiiiight have to say the classic bread, cheese, and charcuterie option. Something about being outside and tearing apart a fresh baguette just makes me happy! Love the post, and the book looks wonderful. If everything in it is even half as tasty as this cake then it’d be a welcome addition to my bookshelf!

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