8 whole eggs, at room temperature, separated
2 egg yolks
1 cup + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup cake and pastry flour, sifted
¼ tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup whole toasted and peeled hazelnuts Plus an additional 12-16 whole hazelnuts
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp corn syrup
5 oz semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
5 egg yolks, slightly warmed
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp corn syrup
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tbsp brandy (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C). Trace eight 8-inch (20 cm) circles onto parchment paper, 2 or 3 per sheet, so that the circles do not touch but the paper fits onto a baking tray. Place the sheets on baking trays with the marker tracings underneath (so it doesn’t transfer onto the cake). You may have to bake the layers in batches.
2. Whip the 10 eggs yolks with 1 cup (200 g) of the sugar on high speed until they have doubled in volume and are thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Sift in the flour and salt and fold in.
3. In a clean bowl, whip the 8 whites until foamy, then slowly pour in the remaining 2 Tbsp (25 g) of sugar and continue whipping until the whites hold a medium peak when the beaters are lifted. Fold the whites into the yolk batter in 2 additions. Stir 1 cup (250 mL) of batter into the melted butter and fold it all back to the bigger batter.
4. Spoon about ½ cup (125 mL) of the batter in the centre of the traced circles on the parchment (as many as you have on the trays) and spread to the edges of each circle with a palette knife, as level as possible. Bake these for 5 to 7 minutes, until the cake loses its shine and just begins to brown at the edges. Slide the parchment (with cake circles on them) off the baking tray, let the tray cool for a minute or two and repeat with the remaining batter, until all 8 layers are baked. Allow the cake layers to cool completely on the parchment paper (these can be made ahead and wrapped in plastic, but still on the parchment).
1. Prepare the caramel garnishes. Place all but 12-16 of the hazelnuts onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Place a large cookie cutter (7-inches/18 cm) on a second parchment-lined baking tray, and grease the cutter and the parchment paper lightly. Bring the sugar, water and corn syrup to a full boil over high heat without stirring and cook uncovered, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pot with cool water until it caramelizes, about 5 minutes. Carefully pour about half of the hot sugar into the centre of the cookie cutter to fill it (spread to the edges, if needed), and pour the remaining sugar over the hazelnuts. Let the cookie cutter ring set until half set, about 3-5 minutes, then remove the ring, and with a greased chef’s knife, score the disc of sugar into 12 to 16 wedges, then cool completely. After the caramelized hazelnuts have cooled pulse them in a food processor into a coarse crumble.
1. For the frosting, melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring gently until melted. Set aside.
2. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and whip with ¼ cup of the sugar until they are pale and double in volume, about 3 minutes.
3. Bring the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, the water and corn syrup to a boil over high heat and cook uncovered and without stirring but occasionally brushing down the sides of the pot with water, until it reaches a temperature of 238 F/114 C (softball stage). Carefully pour the hot sugar down the side of the bowl with the yolks while beating on medium-high speed. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the speed to high and beat until cool, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, then add the butter a few pieces at a time while beating. Beat in the brandy (if using), vanilla and the salt.
4. To assemble the cake, place one cake layer (peel the paper away from each layer as you assemble) on a platter and cover with a thin layer of buttercream and top with a second cake layer. Repeat this process until all 8 cake layers are used. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Press the caramelized hazelnut crumble onto the side of the cake. Arrange 12 to 16 hazelnuts in a circle on top of the cake at the outside edge, equally spaced apart. Rest each caramelized sugar wedge so that each wedges rests on each hazelnut, angled the same direction, creating a fan pattern. Chill the cake completely before slicing to serve.