Finally, I found it, albeit when I was in France this October: an upgraded version of Nutella. !! The ingredient label on La Mandorle reads (in translation): chocolate 45%, ground hazelnuts 25%, rice malt, water. This is in stark contrast to Nutella , the first ingredient of which is refined sugar and which also includes artificial vanillin flavor and something called “reduced minerals whey.” Not sure what the latter is, but I’ll take something that’s 70% chocolate and hazelnuts over something with refined sugar as the first ingredient any day. And now that I know the percentages, I’ll combine melted dark chocolate with ground hazelnuts and then sweeten it to taste with powdered sucanat or maple syrup or brown rice syrup. Heck, I might even drizzle in some vanilla!
I used my French nutty chocolate sauce to make this layered sponge cake, but you could also drizzle the layers with melted chocolate before serving it to get a similar taste and elegant look. (Or try my idea for blending your own nutty chocolate creation.) Or perhaps you might have already stumbled upon a Stateside version of upgraded Nutella. If so, please let me know! Nutty chocolate sauce is a darned tasty treat.
Sponge Cake with Nutty Chocolate Sauce Serves 4.
6 egg whites, preferably eggs from free-range hens
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sucanat (run sucanat through a coffee-spice grinder for about 15 seconds to powder it)
1/4 cup mesquite flour*
1/4 cup raw buckwheat OR brown rice flour*
Nutty chocolate sauce or melted chocolate for serving (see top paragraph for suggestions on finding and making top-notch nutty chocolate sauce)
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
Whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until glossy, stiff peaks form. Drizzle in the vanilla and briefly whip again. Sprinkle the powdered sucanat over the top and whip it in. Add flour(s) and whip one last time.
Spread onto parchment-lined jelly roll pan, using a spatula to smooth it out. Bake 15 minutes or until top is puffed and turning slightly golden. Remove and let COMPLETELY COOL on a wire rack before cutting into 4 even quarters.
To finish the sponge cake, place one of the quarters on a pretty serving plate and cover with one-third of your chosen sauce. (Note that non-oversugary jams like Tree of Life’s apricot jam also work well as an instant “sauce.”) Repeat with two more quarters, then top with the prettiest one. Use a very sharp chef’s knife to cut the layered cake into 4 equal pieces. Serve promptly once it’s sauced.
Leftover un-sauced sponge cake can be kept for a day on the counter, but do know that the appealing fluffiness of sponge cake doesn’t last long. It’s perfect to serve on special occasions like the holidays, though!
* OR use 1/2 cup total raw buckwheat or brown rice flour. These are gluten-free flours. If you’d rather make a wheat-based version, use 1/2 cup kamut, spelt, or barley flour.