But see, Thanksgiving requires no let downs, or wondering if you'll wake up with coal in your stocking. Instead, I always visit my family, and in a nutshell, eat a colossal meal. You know, the kind where there is a serious amount of food, and you eat way too much because you know, when you're back to eating a plain old PB&J for lunch tomorrow, that you'll regret leaving that once a year thanksgiving taste behind? So you see, this thanksgiving was another chance to contribute to the table. What to make? Oh, that could take days, even weeks, to choose.
I think I flipped through over 15 cookbooks, and was unable to find even inspiration. With only two days left until thanksgiving, I could have slapped myself on the head- I hadn't checked Smitten Kitchen. After taking a quick browse through the listed recipes, I found the recipe for a hazelnut brown butter cake. Despite how much I hate peeling hazelnuts, my feelings could not tarnish the outcome of this cake. It was good.
Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake
Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques
5 ounces (about one heaping cup) hazelnuts, blanched to remove dark skins
1/2 pound unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon melted extra for greasing the pan)
1/2 vanilla bean
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting the cake
1/3 cups all purpose flour
5 extra large (or 6 large) egg whites
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 300ºF.
Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and toast 12 to 15 minutes, until they're golden brown and smell nutty. Let them cool.
Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of a 10 inch round cake pan.
Brush the pan with a little melted butter and line the bottom with the paper.
Place the rest of the butter ina medium saucepan. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise down the center, and using a paring knife to scrape the seeds and pulp onto the butter. To make sure not to lose any of the seeds, run your vanilla coated knife through the butter. Add the vanilla pod to the pan, and cook the butter until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Set aside to cool. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.
Grind the hazelnuts with the confectioners' sugar in a food processor until they're finely ground. Add the flour and pulse to combine. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Add the granulated sugar and mix on high speed 4 to 5 minutes, until the mixture forms very still peaks. When you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks should hold. Transfer the whites to a large mixing bowl.
Alternate folding the dry ingredients and the brown butter into the egg whites, a third at a time. Remember to scrap the bottom of the brown butter pan with a rubber spatula to get all of the little brown bits.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour**.
Cool on a rack 30 minutes. Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, and invert the cake onto a plate. Peel off the paper, and turn the cake back over onto a serving platter. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar or chocolate Ganache (below)
**My cake was ready at 30 minutes so keep an eye on it (SmittenKitchen's was done at 40)
Draping Ganache for 10-inch Cake
4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
Melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occassionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.