One of the cookbook’s sitting on my shelf is ‘Southern Italian Desserts’ by Rosetta Constantino. I bought the book in the midst of moving so I never really had too much time to work with it. Flipping through the pages, however, it’s exactly what I wanted it to be! The recipes are authentically Italian, and unlike most American baked goods. I was excited to try some new things…
One of the recipes in this book is called ‘Africano.’ It’s a chocolate hazelnut cake roll. (Umm, OKAY). You make a homemade chocolate hazelnut paste (move over Nutella!) and wrap a thin layer of sponge around it. After it’s set, you dip it in chocolate, and then dip it in white chocolate and chopped pistachios. Hazelnut? Pistachio? I reeeeeeally want to go to Italy!! Actually my big goal is to take Ruby on a tour of Europe when she’s old enough to appreciate it. I can’t wait!!!
One of the reasons I love this cookbook is because she groups her recipes by Italian region. This dessert is native to Sicily and the author got to try an Africano while visiting Palermo, her husband’s hometown. I had just binge-watched a ton of Food Network’s Baking Championship so I couldn’t help but say-a everything-a like-a I was channeling-ga my eener Damiano Carrara! Ha! Did you know his bake shop, ‘Carrara Pastries’ is in Moorpark, CA. That’s only two hours away… And THAT IS HAPPENING. :)
These were a little tricky to roll but the components themselves are very simple to make. The rolling the cake up and the dunking in chocolate was the biggest challenge– BUT! So worth it for a unique dessert I’d never had before.
Below is a photo of the half sheet thin sponge I baked. You divide it into four sections and spread the hazelnut paste all over it. Then you roll the cake up away from you (toward the top of the photo) so you have four long logs. You cut each log into three parts so you will eventually end up with 12 cake rolls.
Next time I might skip the cake part completely and just eat a bowl of hazelnut paste sprinkled with pistachios. But you do you… :)
Happy Wednesday! xoxo
Chocolate Hazelnut Cake Roll
1 1/2 c. skinned hazelnuts
About 1 T. safflower or neutral-tasting vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (40-55% cacao)
1 cup (240g) hazelnut paste (above)
1 cup (125 g) powdered sugar
CAKE: 3 large eggs
3 T. sugar
2 tsp mild-flavored honey
1/2 c. cake flour (50 grams)
COATING: 16 ounces (454 g) dark chocolate (55-60% cacao)
3 T. safflower or other neutral-tasting vegetable oil, divided
6 ounces (170g) white chocolate
1/2 cup (75g) finely chopped raw pistachios
TO MAKE HAZELNUT PASTE:
Preheat the oven to 350.
Toast nuts for 20-22 minutes until very dark and almost smoking.
Pour oil into food processor along with roasted hazelnuts. Process until a smooth paste, scraping down the sides of the bowl and blade. Add a bit more oil if needed to get paste going.
TO MAKE CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT FILLING: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, just until the chocolate is smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the hazelnut paste until evenly combined. Sift in powdered sugar. Let stand until it is thick and spreadable.
TO MAKE THE CAKE: Preheat oven to 350.
Line a half sheet tray with parchment, butter and flour parchment. (You don't want to skip this step!)
Beat the eggs, sugar, honey in a stand mixture with whisk attachment for 15 minutes, beginning at medium speed and increasing to high after ingredients are blended.
Sift the flour over the top, one-third of flour at a time, gently folding in until completely incorporated without deflating mixture.
Use a small spatula to spread the cake out over the half sheet. It will be very thin! Bake 8-10 minutes until just lightly golden. Lift out the cake on its parchment paper and transfer to a flat surface with long side facing you. Trim away crust edges of cake and then cut into four equal sections about 4 inches wide. (see photo in blog)
While the cake is slightly warm and pliable, divide the filling evenly among the four pieces and spread over the top like peanut butter. With the long side facing you, roll one filled cake away from you into a long roll. Roll remaining three pieces.
Transfer the rolls, seam side down, to a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15+ minutes to firm the filling. Trim the ends of the rolls to neaten them and cut each roll into three equal segments. Lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet, seam side down.
TO MAKE THE COATING: Melt the dark chocolate with 2 T. of oil in a double boiler, just until chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip each roll into the melted chocolate with a fork, shake off excess and put down on parchment. Coat all of the rolls and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Melt the white chocolate with remaining 1 T. of oil in a double boiler. Put the pistachios in a small bowl. Dip each roll into the white chocolate and 'stamp' the ends into the pistachios. Refrigerate 15-30 minutes to set. Best served cool but not cold.**Refrigerate in a single layer airtight container for up to one week.
By Rosetta Constantino
Adapted from Southern Italian Desserts