hazelnut cake …

I met Michaela von Schweinitz last summer at a Cowboy Cookout at my friend Steph’s. She is a gorgeous German ex-pat film director living and working in SoCal. Michaela was the only other woman there in Cowboy boots…

Did I mention she’s German? Because I’m always looking for ways to connect to my grandfather’s heritage I often find myself being drawn to people and food from the Old Country.

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it’s not just food that connects me to my grandfather’s heritage … sometimes it’s blonde babies picking flowers in the mountains …

So I whipped out my one year of German (technically, it was a one-credit elective called “German Folk Songs” during which we sang German folk songs for an hour each week) and utterly embarrassed myself with nonsensical conversation.

Thankfully she overlooked my lameness.

And even though we only met once and emailed two or three times, I now believe her to be a lifelong friend.

I firmly believe this to be true because she shared recipes with me.

Her first recipe was for a salad that I dream about. It was the salad she brought to Stephanie’s cookout and now I check our beets in the garden daily so I can make it again. It’s the sole reason I planted beets this year. So I think about Michaela nearly every day as I weed and water in the garden.

And the second recipe is even better than the first …

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She told me she makes this cake as a breakfast treat for camping trips. The hazelnuts remind her home. And it’s a nourishing, delicious and easy way to reconnect with her past.

And the fact that it’s paleo-friendly, gluten free, dairy free and vegetarian … it’s a tasty treat for almost any get-together and almost everyone can have some (except for those with egg and nut allergies).

The original recipe calls for 2 cups of ground hazelnuts, 1 cup sugar, 5 eggs, hot water and 2 drops of bitter almond aroma. And makes a 9×12 pan.

But I don’t want to have that much of this cake sitting around our house because I will eat the whole thing.

We don’t use sugar too much these days (except in homemade kombucha), so I needed to find an alternative.

And in the almost year that I have had the recipe, I have not remembered to pick up bitter almond aroma at the grocery store … not once.

So I’ve made a few adjustments.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup hazelnut meal (Bob’s Red Mill sells it pre-ground, or you can grind your own.)
  • 1/3 cup pure grade B maple syrup
  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • 1 TBLS hot water
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and put the rack on the lowest setting.

Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and oil the paper with coconut oil.

Separate the eggs into two bowls and refrigerate the whites.

Whisk the egg yolks with vanilla, hot water and maple syrup into a cream. Whisk until it goes beyond frothy and almost Zabaione-like (a very loose custard). Add the hazelnuts and mix well.

I use the whisk attachment on my immersion blender to beat the whites into a stiff “snow.”

And I have to quote Michaela’s email for this next step …

“With a tool my friend in Germany calls ‘Kinderfeind’ because with it she scrapes the last bit of dough out of a bowl leaving nothing for the kids to ‘nash.’ I very carefully add the ‘snow’ to the nut mix. I just don’t know how you call this tool here.”

*I call it a rubber spatula or rubber scraper, but I’m calling it a ‘kinderfeind’ from now on. It’s a PERFECT description.

NOTE: DO NOT OVERMIX THE EGG WHITES AND HAZELNUT!

Gently spoon into your baking dish.

Bake for 40 minutes.

*The original recipe bakes for 60 minutes … the smaller glass pan takes less time.

Turn off the oven and let the cake rest in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and remove from the pan and let cool completely.

It’s incredible breakfast cake, but I’ve been known to nosh on it all day, and serve it with a dollop of whipped cream for desert.

Makes 8 servings … (or one serving, if there’s no one else in the house to share it, or the kids sleep late and you’re alone with the cake for too long? … not that I would ever eat an entire hazelnut cake … ever … seriously.)

I’m going to take Michaela’s advice and bake this for camping this year. It’ll be a great compliment to sunrise over the Gallatin Mountains …

 SHARED on:  Kelly the Kitchen Kop

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