Torta gianduia (Piedmontese Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake)

Torta gianduia (Piedmontese Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake), Gluten-free

This flourless, Piedmontese chocolate-hazelnut cake is something special. It’s basically akin to a rich, fudgey brownie with a whole lot of chocolate and hazelnut flavor thanks to a one-two punch of bittersweet chocolate and toasted hazelnut meal commingling in the batter, plus a layer of a popular spread (cough, Nutella) frosting the top. And it’s naturally gluten-free, so much to love!

I first made this torta for dessert as part of my Italian-focused Easter menu, but we never got to eating it that evening after stuffing ourselves on too much bagna cauda and homemade crusty bread, vinaigrette-tossed roasted beets and carrots, prosciutto cotto and much, much more. Happily, the cake keeps very well in the fridge and was a perfect accompaniment to my morning cup of coffee — I cannot recommend that combo enough, it’s heavenly.

And even though there seem to be a few tricky steps and a whole lot going on at once, let me assure you that it’s quite foolproof. I tried so hard to ruin my first attempt — not adding the toasted hazelnuts until after I had already folded in the egg whites, forgetting to set a timer, and probably something else that I’ve conveniently blocked from my mind — that I’m now pretty much convinced that you cannot ruin this cake.

Torta gianduia (Piedmontese Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake)

(adapted from BBC Food)
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 30 – 35 minutes

Serves: About 6 – 8


  • 85 grams (3 ounces or 3/4 cup) hazelnut flour/meal
  • 85 grams (3 ounces) bittersweet chocolate disks¹ (or from a bar, roughly chopped)
  • 85 grams (3 ounces or 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cubed
  • 85 grams (3 ounces or 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons) evaporated cane juice or granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs, separated and brought to room temp
  • 28 grams (2 tablespoons) freshly squeezed orange or tangerine juice
  • 1 packet (32 grams or about 2 tablespoons) Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter² or your favorite chocolate-hazelnut spread, room temperature
  • Chopped hazelnuts (about 1 – 2 tablespoons) for garnish, optional

For the pan:

  • Unsalted butter
  • Cocoa powder (Dutch-process or natural)
  • Parchment paper


Preheat Oven and Prep Pan:

Set oven rack on center level and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease sides of a 6″x3″ round cake pan with removable bottom and dust with cocoa powder (tap out excess), line bottom of pan with a circle of parchment; set aside.

Toast Hazelnut Meal:

Sprinkle hazelnut meal evenly over a small, rimmed sheet pan (about 10″x15″). Toast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, stir, and toast for 5 minutes more — it’ll be lightly browned in spots and fragrant. Set aside to cool.

Melt Butter and Chocolate:

While hazelnut meal toasts, melt butter and chocolate. In a small, heatproof bowl (preferably metal, I use a 2-quart stainless steel one by Endurance/RSVP) or the top of a double boiler, combine chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan (I use this 2-quart pan) over medium heat, warm about 1” of water (make sure there’s at least 1/2” of space between the water and bottom of the bowl when it’s placed over the top) until it just barely reaches a simmer. Reduce heat to low and set bowl with chocolate over top. Stir chocolate mixture and heat just until about 75% of the chocolate is melted. Remove bowl from heat and slowly stir until smooth. Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.

Mix Cake Base:

While chocolate mixture cools, whisk together egg yolks and evaporated cane juice in a medium bowl until lightened (about 2 minutes by hand) — it will initially be very stiff and thick, but eventually thin out and become much lighter yellow. Whisk in orange juice and cooled, toasted hazelnut meal. Whisk in cooled chocolate-butter mixture.

Beat Egg Whites and Fold Into Batter:

In a small bowl, whisk egg whites until they hold stiff peaks. Fold egg whites into cake batter (no need to be super gentle).

Bake and Cool:

Transfer batter into prepared cake pan, and bake in preheated oven for about 30 – 35 minutes or until middle is no longer wiggly (no need to insert a toothpick in center, middle will still be a bit fudgey). Cool in pan for 30 minutes before running a thin spatula around edge and removing from pan (I don’t bother taking the pan bottom off at this point). Cool completely.

Garnish and Serve:

Once cake has cooled, remove parchment from bottom of cake (if desired). If using a pack of Justin’s chocolate hazelnut butter, knead packe until warmed and well-combined. Spread nut butter over top and sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over top (if using). Cut slices and serve. To store, loosely cover cake with plastic wrap and store in the fridge; for best texture, bring to room temp before serving.


¹ I like Tcho 66% Baking Discs and Guittard 72% Bittersweet Chocolate Wafers.

² Available at Target and Whole Foods, typically in the peanut butter/jelly aisle.

You Might Also Like

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Gluten Free Recipes | Histamine Intolerance
    April 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm

    […] Cakes are for celebrating or simply to spoil your family. When we bake cakes we choose the best ing… Canada" width="200" height="175" style="padding-right: 5px;"/> Cakes are for celebrating or simply to spoil your family. When we bake cakes we choose the best ingredients we can find. The finer the ingredients the finer the cake (try using an Organic stone ground flour next time you bake a cake). Here are some of my favourite gluten free recipes which are suitable for kids (and big people) who are wheat or gluten intolerant. Chocolate Hazelnut Cake Recipe (gluten Free) Ingredients: 35g Cacao powder 80ml Hot Water 150g Dark Eating Chocolate, melted 150g Butter, melted 295g Brown Sugar, firmly packed 100g Hazelnuts, finely ground 4 Organic Eggs, separated 20g Cacao powder (extra) Method: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a deep, 20cm, round cake tin and line with baking paper. Blend the cacao powder with the water in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the melted chocolate, butter, sugar, finely ground hazelnuts and egg yolks. Beat the egg whites in a small bowl until soft peak stage. Fold into chocolate mixture in two batches. Pour mixture into prepared cake tin and bake for one hour. Stand cake for 15 minutes. Turn onto wire rack, top side up, to cool. Dust with extra cacao powder. Serve with cream or ice cream and fresh gooseberries. Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies (Gluten free) Ingredients: 70g Cocoa Powder 160ml Hot water 300g Dark eating chocolate melted 300g Butter melted 590g Brown Sugar firmly packed 200g Hazel nuts finely ground 8 Eggs Separated 40g Cocoa (extra) Method Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Grease a deep, brownie tin and line with baking paper. Blend the cocoa powder with the water in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the melted chocolate, butter, sugar finely ground hazelnuts and egg yolks. Beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peak stage. Fold into the chocolate mixture in two batches. Pour mixture into prepared brownie tin and bake for one hour. Stand cake for 15 minutes. Turn onto wire rack, top side up to cool. Dust with extra cocoa powder. Eastern Cape Pecan Chocolate cake Recipe (gluten Free) Makes: One single layer cake Ingredients 170g Rice Flour 3 tbsp Cocoa powder 2tsp Baking soda 200g Sugar brown 5ml Vanilla essence cup Liquid soya milk 3/4 cup Sunflower oil 2 Eggs cup Milk 1 tsp Xanthum Gum Method Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees Grease 23cm cake tin and set aside (I like to use the silicon cake tins) Using a hand mixer or machine mixer. Mix flour, cocoa, baking powder sugar and vanilla essence together Add milk oil and eggs Mix everything together by hand or using the mixer. Beat at high speed for 4 minutes Transfer into a bake tin and bake for 35 45 min. Icing 3 cups Icing sugar 1 cup Organic Butter 2 Tbsp Madagascar Vanilla extract cup Warm organic milk cup Organic Cocoa powder 1 cups Whole Organic pecans Method Allow the cake to cool Mix all ingredients together slowly in the mixer until smooth. Ice the cake Lightly roast the pecans on an oven tray in the oven for 5 minutes Gently grind the pecan nuts and sprinkle over the cake […]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.