- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 28, 2004

There are countless ways to entertain on New Year’s Eve. I know people who adore hosting huge parties with scores of guests, as well as those who think the only way to celebrate is with a small, intimate dinner. Some hosts invite people to dress in their fanciest frocks, while others encourage turtlenecks and jeans.

Regardless of the size, style or fashion focus, all New Year’s Eve party givers seem to have one goal in common: to offer an abundance of good food and plenty of champagne.

Let’s face it. Dec. 31 is a night for eating with abandon. All those resolutions to be good and diet in the new year are still hours away. So it’s no wonder this evening tends to be a time when you often hear, “Well, maybe one more little bite.”

For a potluck New Year’s Eve dinner with close friends, I’ve decided to tantalize my resolution-minded guests with a delectable, impossible-to-say-no-to chocolate cake.

As long as we eat it before midnight, we can do so guiltlessly. I don’t expect there will be leftovers to tempt the weaker resolution makers among us.

Chocolate hazelnut orange torte

12 tablespoons (1 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pan

Flour for dusting pan

6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, coarsely chopped

3/4 1 cup sugar

6 large eggs, separated

1 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

11/4 cups (6 ounces) hazelnuts, toasted (see note) and finely ground

GLAZE AND GARNISH:

6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate, coarsely chopped

6 tablespoons plus 1 cup heavy or whipping cream, divided

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

12 whole hazelnuts and julienned orange peel from 1 navel orange for garnish, optional

Arrange a rack at lower position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust lightly with flour. Cut a round of parchment or waxed paper to fit the bottom of the pan and butter and flour it.

For torte, melt chocolate in the top a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl set over (not touching) a pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth, then remove and cool slightly.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter in a large bowl and gradually add sugar. Beat until pale yellow in color and sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula if needed. Add yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in chocolate, orange zest and orange liqueur. Lower speed and beat in ground hazelnuts.

With an electric mixer (and clean beaters) beat egg whites in a large bowl until firm peaks form. Stir a generous spoonful of the whites into the chocolate batter. Then gradually, in three additions, fold in the remaining whites. Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth top with a spatula.

Bake on a rack at lower position in preheated 375-degree oven for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake 40 to 50 minutes more. Cake should be set but slightly moist and soft in the center. Remove to a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Remove sides from the pan and cool cake completely before icing.

For glaze, put chocolate and 6 tablespoons cream in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Stir or whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in liqueur. Cool 5 minutes. Pour glaze over cake and swirl so glaze coats top of cake evenly. With an icing spatula or a table knife, spread glaze evenly around sides of cake. If desired, garnish top of cake with a border of hazelnuts arranged equidistant from each other.

The cake can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving. At serving time, whip remaining cream until just firm. If desired, arrange some julienned orange peel between hazelnuts on top of cake. Serve each portion with a dollop of whipped cream. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Note: To toast hazelnuts, spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in 350-degree oven until browned and fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove and when cool enough to handle, place a handful of nuts in a kitchen towel and rub together to remove as much of skins as possible. Continue with remaining nuts.

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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