Gianduja Molten Cake with Hazelnut Gelato & Brittle


I know what you’re thinking. Molten chocolate cakes are so 1999 and yet it seems every restaurant in every corner of the world has some version or other on their menu. Sometimes you just wish the recipe could be put in a time capsule and sent to space for 10 years or so. Everyone needs a break sometimes but we can’t ignore the fact that, when done properly, these suckers can be quite incredible and so i thought i would give them a little makeover and feature them in a dessert that taste more like Nutella for grown-ups. Yes, you heard me right…

{{loud thump of people fainting}}

When i came across a delicious-looking block of dark Gianduja (or Gianduia) at Buon Italia in Chelsea Market there was no doubt in my mind, not only i was gonna make a molten gianduja cake but i was gonna serve it with nocciola (hazelnut) gelato and some homemade hazelnut brittle. Hazelnut three-ways if you prefer. One warm and gooey, one chilled and creamy and one crunchy and… extremely addictive. Gianduja is a chocolate originally made in Piedmont, Italy that contains about 30% hazelnut paste. It’s most popular incarnation is of course Nutella which wouldn’t work here because it’s been already processed into a paste with added crap you really don’t want. The ironic thing is that the cake batter taste almost like Nutella – without the hydrogenated oil. Hmm.


If you need more convincing just imagine the combination of warm melting Gianduja chocolate and the cold hazelnut gelato. These two were truly made for each other. You could also buy a good quality hazelnut gelato to serve with this dessert but i recommend keeping with the hazelnut theme because it really works. You trust me, don’t you? Yes?.. Can i have your wallet?

The hazelnut brittle is a foolproof recipe that you could adapt to pretty much any kind of nuts, except a nut like me. Scratch that. On second thought i wouldn’t mind being brittlelized.  I have to warn you though that you might find yourself getting up in the middle of the night to have a little snack. Hide the hazelnut brittle, my friends… hide it from yourself!

  • Gianduja Molten Cake with Hazelnut Gelato & Brittle

    • Serves 6
  • gianduja-cake-6

    • For the molten Gianduja cakes:
    • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 3 teaspoons all-purpose flour
    • 4 ounces dark gianduja chocolate
    • 2 large whole eggs
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • For the hazelnut brittle:
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 1/2 cup ground hazelnut
    • 1 pinch of salt
    • For the hazelnut gelato:
    • 8 ounces hazelnuts, skinned and toasted
    • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
    • 1 1/4 cups half & half
    • 4 egg yolks
    • 4 tablespoons sugar
    • gianduja-cake-3
      For the molten Gianduja cakes:
    • Butter and lightly flour six 3-ounce ramequins.
    • Combine butter and Gianduja chocolate in a bowl and place on top of bain-marie; heat until chocolate and butter mixture has melted.
    • In a medium bowl beat together eggs, yolks, and sugar until light and thick.
    • Add melted chocolate mixture, and beat to combine. Add the flour until just combined and divide the batter among the ramequins.
    • Preheat oven to 450’F and bake until the sides are sets but the center remains soft. Between 6 and 9 minutes depending on your oven.
    • Gently invert ramequins on the plates to let the cakes fall off.
    • gianduja-cake-4
      For the hazelnut brittle:
    • Preheat the oven to 350’F
    • In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, 1/3 cup water, and the cream of tartar. Cook to a golden brown caramel. Pour onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper or a nonstick baking pad. Let it cool.
    • When cool, break into pieces and grind to a powder in a food processor. Stir in the ground hazelnuts.
    • Spread a thin layer of the caramel-nut mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking pad. You can give it the shapes you want. Bake for 5 minutes. Let it cool and keep it in a dry, cool place.
    • gianduja-cake-5

    • For the hazelnut gelato:
    • In a food processor grind the hazelnut to a paste (only use skinned hazelnuts)
    • Combine the milk and the half & half in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer and turn off the heat. Whisk in the hazelnut paste and cover. Allow to cool completely.
    • Strain the hazelnut milk into a strainer lined with cheesecloth and extract as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the solids.
    • In a bowl beat the egg yolks and sugar. Add the strained milk mixture while whisking.
    • Put the mixture back into the saucepan and cook on the lowest heat while stirring constantly until it thickens slightly, about 4 to 5 minutes.
    • Cool completely.
    • Freeze in your ice cream maker.
Be Sociable, Share!

Tags: , , ,

  • hjli

    Hazelnut gelato! Hazelnut brittle! I almost don’t even need the molten cake. Almost.

  • alice

    I love each element of your post. I am a big fan of Hazelnut and chocolate. Well done!

  • Alessio

    Quite addictive dish for sure! :PP I was just surprised that you didn’t toast the hazelnuts for the preparations; if I may ask, how comes? 😉

  • Ciaochowlinda

    I don’t care if it’s 1999 or not – it’s fantastic – each and every part of this dessert sounds delectable.

  • shez

    Loving the idea of a nutella-like hazelnut dream for grownups. That pool of oozey chocolate is definitely calling to me !

  • Irene

    Amazing cake!

  • Michelle

    I just made molten lava cakes last week but they din turn out too well. Looks like I will have to try your recipe!

  • Tony

    aha! I’ve been waiting for this post 😀 beautifully presented, my friend! I don’t think I can be trusted to make this cake, however, because the block of dark Gianduja would never make it into the cake batter

  • Colloquial Cook

    My wallet against this gianduja dessert? 😀 Are you Kidding me? Of course! Take it!
    Oh, monsieur Zen, mais quel talent 😛

  • Mélanie

    Ma mère m’a dit hier qu’elle voulait que j’apprenne à faire une glace à la noisette (pour l’instant j’en suis restée à la vanille…), ca tombe bien! j’ai trouvé le dessert pour le we prochain! Merci :)

  • Jen @ MaplenCornbread

    Such beautfiul dessert and combination!

  • Karine

    This sounds so decadent! Ice cream and chocolate are a match made from heaven! Merci beaucoup!

  • Cynthia

    Ummmmm, I want that brittle!

  • chocolate shavings

    The chocolate oozing out is amazing!

  • Rachel (S[d]OC)

    You have nailed my biggest weaknesses – chocolate and hazelnuts in combination. I am imagining smooshing some of that warm cake with that cold ice cream and crunching on the brittle.

    Tell me about hiding the hazelnut brittle! I made one one time for a recipe and I couldn’t keep the stuff away from my husband. He took one taste, said, “MMMMMMMMM” and then kept at it. I had to shoo him out of hte kitchen so I could eat it myself -oops- I meant, use it in the recipe.

  • Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    This looks fantastic! So good with Gianduja chocolate and I love the pairing with hazelnut gelato!

  • Sophie

    I love every part of this fab dessert!! A must try!!

    Superb even!! MMMMMMMM,…

  • deeba

    I don’t need no convincing at all. WOW…this is certain dessert nirvana. Uber delicious…fab job Monsieur, fab job!

  • Marc @ NoRecipes

    Hahaha you read my mind on the 1999 thing, but like Monet greeting cards, there’s a reason why molten chocolate cakes have become so common. It looks like it’s been reincarnated as a higher life form in your kitchen though.

  • enrisa_marie

    Hello. I like this dessert- great texture.

  • Jeena

    1999 or not it still looks so fabulous! Really wish I could taste it Mmmmmm.

  • we are never full

    jesus h. christ…. i don’t care if it looks like the 90’s, take me back!

    i seriously am a sucker for anything that oozes like this – chocolate cakes, cheese, whatever. bring it.

  • Darina

    I love molten cakes, having tried them for the first time only a few months ago.Tthe addition of the brittle is fabulous. What is better than nuts and chocolate? I love the textures here, Z.

  • Pigpigscorner

    I can have this anytime!

  • Claudia

    And here I thought those “Lava Cakes” were invented by a favorite local restaurant. Then, saw the recipe in a magazine this week, went out yesterday and bought 6 ramekins for it. Are you reading my mind or something?? Your recipe sounds much better. Over the top even with the ice cream and brittle.

  • Eralda (The Split Pea)

    Huh? What just happened? I think I bumped my head when I fell to the floor. 1999 or not, this desert looks to die for. Beautiful photographs!

  • Elaine

    I like how you think. Hazelnut and hazelnut is one of my favorite pairings.

  • Steve

    I’ve just discovered your blog and am so glad I did, you are quite the talent. My boys love molten chocolate cakes, and consumed countless nutella crepes when we lived in France. This dish will be a must for them. Thanks!

  • Tavolini

    oh YUM. Yeah, I actually was never tired of the molten cake–but holy hazelnut! I would eat that in a heartbeat.

  • Marla

    Divine indeed. I think this makes you officially Piemontese (Italy) as this is the land of hazelnuts, and the birth place of gianduja and later nutella. Very nice indeed.

  • dawn

    no no no! molten cakes are not so 1999, they are so forever…never tire of them and their endless possibilities.
    hazelnut is purrrrrfect here. tres fab!

  • Marla

    PS Nutella in Europe has no hydrogenated fat added, only in America, I checked their website. I suppose they think all Americans like it to have the texture of hydrogenated peanut butter. Sad indeed.

  • emiglia


    I think that’s all I have to say. When I get back up off the floor, I’ll sing your praises.