We are almost there, the festive season is well and truly upon us – but try to take a few moments to remember to celebrate the Winter Solstice on Wednesday this week.

The shortest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere) has been celebrated in different cultures for thousands of years.  It is the start of the solar year and is the celebration of light and the rebirth of the sun – in old Europe known as Yule…  So, even if you are not religious, you can celebrate the start of the lighter days that are coming and the continuing cycle of nature that has been common through out cultures and history with a feast or other celebration with family and friends.

To ensure that you have something worth feasting upon – I offer you this decadent Hazelnut Chocolate Torte with a Chocolate Icing!  Not totally naughty, but is a glutenfree and flourless….. definitely worthy of sharing with loved ones!

Ingredients: Serving 10

Chocolate and hazelnut torte

  • 250g whole blanched hazelnuts
  • 200g butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
  • 200g dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 6 medium eggs, separated
  • 200g honey
  • 3 tbsp of fresh orange juice

Chocolate Icing:

  • 1/4 Cup of raw cacao powder
  • 100ml raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp water
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. Put the hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast them in the centre of the oven for 10 minutes, giving the pan a shake halfway through, until they are golden brown. Watch them carefully so that they don’t burn. Remove and leave them to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Butter a 23cm/9in spring-form cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
  4. Place 200g/7oz of the hazelnuts in a food processor and blend them until they are fairly finely ground. If you blend the nuts to the consistency of fine breadcrumbs, they should work, but I like to leave a few coarser pieces to add texture. Set the remaining 50g/2oz hazelnuts to one side for later..
  5. Put the butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it above a pan of gently simmering water. Stir occasionally and as soon as nearly all the chocolate has melted, remove the bowl from the pan and continue to let the chocolate melt..
  6. Stir in the ground hazelnuts and leave the mixture to cool for 5 minutes.
  7. Beat the egg yolks and honey together with an electric hand-whisk for at least 5 minutes until pale and creamy, then stir into the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Wash and dry the beaters well.
  8. Then in a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form – they are ready when you can turn the bowl upside down without the eggs sliding out. Do not over whisk.
  9. Working quickly, stir the orange juice into the chocolate mixture to soften. Add a couple of tablespoonfuls of the whisked egg whites and stir until thoroughly combined, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
  10. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 35–40 minutes or until the cake is well risen and firm.
  11. Remove the cake from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 30 minutes. Undo the spring-clip and invert the cake on to a serving plate, then peel off the lining paper and leave it to cool completely.
  12. When the cake is cold, spread it with the chocolate icing and sprinkle with the hazelnuts that you set aside – these can be whole or chopped.

To make the chocolate icing, add all of the icing ingredients to a blender and blend until rich and glossy. Put the icing in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up if it is a little runny.

For those of you that are vegan, you can swap the butter in the cake recipe for coconut oil and you can always adjust the honey for maple syrup or another sweetener of your choice.

Treat yourself and your loved ones this Solstice with a tasty chocolate treat!

With love and blessings for the festive season.