This rich and virtually flourless cake is popular in the hazelnut growing areas outside Verona. Although the original does not demand it, the Torta di Nocciole would be wonderful with a little lightly whipped, unsweetened cream. 

One 10-inch cake, about 12 servings


2 cups unblanched hazelnuts, about 10 ounces, ground finely in the food processor
1/2 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
4 eggs, separated
3 tablespoons sweet Marsala or dark rum
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1 pinch salt
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
Confectioners’ sugar for finishing

One 2-inch deep 10-inch round cake pan, buttered and the bottom lined with parchment

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the hazelnuts and breadcrumbs in a bowl but don’t mix them together.
  3. Whisk the yolks in a mixing bowl and whisk in the Marsala, then half the sugar, and continue whisking until very light by hand, with a hand mixer set at medium speed, or in a heavy duty mixer fitted with the whip.
  4. In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites with the salt and continue whipping until the whites hold a very soft peak, by hand, with a hand mixer set at medium speed, or in a heavy duty mixer fitted with the whip. Increase the speed and whip in the remaining sugar in a slow stream. Whip the egg whites until they hold a soft, shiny peak.
  5. Fold the yolk mixture into the whites, then fold in the hazelnut and bread crumb mixture and when it is half incorporated, pour the melted butter down the side of the bowl, continuing to fold until the batter is smooth. Be careful not to over mix the batter or it will deflate.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven until the cake is well risen and a thin knife inserted in the center emerges clean, about 30 minutes.

Serving: Serve the Torta di Nocciole lightly dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

Storage: Keep the Torta di Nocciole tightly covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator. If it has been refrigerated, allow it to come to room temperature before serving.