Italian Hazelnut Minicakes


If you know my recipes you know that I almost always use almond flour/ground almonds in my cakes, but other ground nuts work well too so here we use hazelnuts. This recipe makes a rich, dense, textural and flavoursome cake batter ‒ if you want to make something light and fluffy look away! I found these little cakes best eaten on the day of making them, with a strong coffee for good measure. Note that you could also make this into one large cake if you prefer, just increase the baking time to about 45 minutes.

For the cakes

200g whole hazelnuts, roasted and peeled

200g butter, room temperature

2 tbsp light olive oil

200 caster sugar

zest of ½ orange

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 free range eggs

175g all-purpose white flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

60ml full fat milk

For the whipped vanilla bean mascarpone

100g mascarpone, cold

100ml double cream, cold

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

For the decorations

A few whole roasted hazelnuts

A few dehydrated or candied orange slices

A few fresh or dried edible flowers or petals

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C on fan bake. Grease or line 9-12 holes of a cupcake tray. I used a square one but you could use a regular one.

  2. If your hazelnuts aren’t roasted, place them on a baking tray and bake for about 8 minutes. If you need to remove the skin, rub them using a clean tea towel and try to take most of it off.

  3. Set aside a few hazelnuts for the decorations. Blitz the rest of the cooled, roasted hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground, being careful not to turn it into a paste. Set aside.

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, oil, sugar, zest and vanilla until very pale, light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.

  5. Next, fold in the ground hazelnuts.

  6. In 2 parts, fold in the flour along with the baking powder and salt. Be very careful not to overmix. Finally, fold in the milk.

  7. Evenly divide the batter between the cupcake holes and bake for about 20 minutes or until lightly golden, springy to the touch and a skewer inserted comes out clean.

  8. Allow the cakes to cool in the tray for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.

  9. Meanwhile, make the whipped mascarpone. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk together the cream, mascarpone and vanilla paste on medium speed until it reaches the consistency of regular yogurt. It will thicken up as you work it, but be very careful not to overwork it or else it could split and go grainy.

  10. Once the cakes are completely cool, pipe or spoon a dollop of the whipped mascarpone onto each one and decorate as desired.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.