hazelnut and chocolate hearts

When I was at high school I used to work weekends in a flower shop called Twigs of Ascot. I loved working there and my favourite days were the busy days like Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. I can't tell you how many rose cylinders I filled on Valentine's Day topped with curly red ribbons. I wonder if rose cylinders are still in fashion?

Instead of red roses, I've gone a bit Miss Haversham this Valentine's Day with some well past their prime hydrangeas. That's what happens to hydrangeas when it's 46°C outside. 

For Valentine's Day, I knew exactly what I wanted to make - some very rich hazelnut and chocolate hearts.

I took out my heart shaped cutter and went a bit wild.

I can't remember the last time I made a chain of hearts.

The final product - some very chocolatey morsels, just perfect for Valentine's Day or when ever the need for chocolate strikes.

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from Maureen Simpson's book, Australian Cuisine.
Hazelnut and Chocolate Cakes
3 egg whites
⅓ cup caster sugar
1 cup hazelnut meal
1 tablespoon potato flour (starch)

100 gm (3½ oz) dark chocolate, chopped
1½ tablespoons water
¼ level teaspoon instant coffee powder
90 gm (3 oz) unsalted butter
¼ cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
Optional - cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line the base and sides of a 20 cm (8 inch) square tin with baking paper. In a medium size bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff, then gradually add the sugar until a stiff meringue forms. Fold through the hazelnut meal and the flour. Put into the prepared cake tin and gently spread the mixture evenly into the corners of the tin. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the mixture starts to shrink away from the edge of the tin.

While the cake is cooking, prepare the next layer. Melt the chopped chocolate with the water and the instant coffee in a small bowl over a basin of simmering water, then put to one side. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks, the vanilla and the melted chocolate mixture. Pour the chocolate topping over the hazelnut sponge.

Return to the oven and bake for a further 20 - 30 minutes until the topping is just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin before cutting into small squares or heart shapes, if desired. You can lightly dust these with cocoa powder before serving.

Happy Valentine's Day!

See you all again next week,


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