Saturday, January 23, 2010

Hazelnut Brown Butter

When I'm on a roll, I'm certainly rollin'. I seem to go through recipe fail phases. I love the picture below because it perfectly illustrates the letdown that was this cake.

After finding myself with an abundance of egg whites after making the Poppyseed Lemon Cake, I rejoiced in that fail by tackling this highly recommended recipe from Smitten Kitchen. And really, how can you go wrong with hazelnuts and brown butter?

Well, I'll tell you how:
I went through all the motions of the recipe; whipping the eggwhites, browning the butter, folding everything together, and I was cleaning up my counter after sticking the cake in the oven, when I noticed something strange:

I was missing half a pound of butter.

I knew I opened a 1 pound package of butter to make the cake, and there, staring up at me from the counter, was a completely empty wrapper.

I didn't waste much time looking for the missing butter- with a sinking heart I realized that I'd browned that whole pound of butter and mixed it into this poor cake.
I did hold out little hope that it would emerge from the oven unscathed, but the thing was just oozing butter. It dripped down my fingers when I squeezed it.

Given the fact that several people still like the cake, even with the 1,620 calorie boost, I will give this recipe another shot. So here it is, for your baking pleasure, from Smitten Kitchen (originally from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin).

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake
5 ounces (about one heaping cup) hazelnuts, blanched to remove dark skins (or, I used chopped Hazelnuts)
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
6 large egg whites

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat to 350; line and butter a 9 or 10-in cake pan.

Spread your hazelnuts out on a cookie sheet and toast them in the oven for 12-15 min, until fragrant. (mine, which were chopped and smaller, I only toasted for about 7 min). Let cool.

Place TWO sticks of butter in a medium saucepan, scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and add them to the butter along with the pod. Cook until the butter is brown and nutty-smelling, about 6-8 minutes. (I pull mine off the stove before it gets too brown, because it cooks for a little longer after you take it off. Also, stirring the butter the last couple minutes helps it brown evenly.) Then discard the vanilla bean pod and set aside the butter to cool.
Grind the hazelnuts and confectioner's sugar in a food processor until fine, then add the flour and pulse to combine.

Whisk the egg whites and the granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer in high speed until very stiff, about five minutes. Transfer them to a large mixing bowl.

Alternate folding dry ingredients and butter into the egg whites, a third at a time. Pour the batter in to the cake pan and bake for 40 min to an hour (right, I know it's a big difference in times, but I can't really gauge mine properly because there was a pound of butter in it, remember?)

(my test cupcake)

Deb covered hers in chocolate ganache, which sounds phenom. Chocolate and hazelnuts are a winning combination.

In retrospect....I thought the batter seemed a little runny.

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