My version of Oma’s Hazelnut Torte on its very own cake stand, used
only on Passover

For every birthday of my childhood, there would be my German grandmother’s Haselnusstorte (hazelnut cake). She lived a four-hour train ride away from us in Wiesbaden, and if she wasn’t visiting for my or my siblings’ birthday, the Torte would arrive in a package. She’d make sure to save the right kind of cardboard box for those parcels. Even after we’d grown up, when she wouldn’t necessarily send it right on our birthdays, the tradition prevailed: The next time we’d visit her, a Haselnusstorte would be waiting on her kitchen counter, glazed in dark chocolate and neatly decorated with a gummy bear per slice, or for the more grown up among us, with a blanched almond.

My kids are more into piled-high soft American chocolate cakes for their birthdays, but my Oma’s Haselnusstorte has become a different tradition in our Jewish household because, as it is flourless, it happens to be kosher for Passover. It is also tremendously easy to make if you have mastered the art of separating eggs, i.e., making 100% sure that no yolk gets into the egg whites (they won’t stiffen otherwise). Tip: Use a separate glass for cracking the eggs and pour each egg white into a bigger bowl for beating once you’re sure no yolk has gotten in there. If you have an accident, toss that messed-up egg white.

My husband, my kids, and so far all guests at our Passover Seder table love/have loved my Oma’s Haselnusstorte, and so, every Passover, I make the traditional version using hazelnuts (also called filiberts), but over the course of the eight days of Passover I also bake an almond and a walnut version. See for yourself what version you like best. Here’s the recipe:

Hazelnut Torte

6 eggs, separated
3 cups finely ground hazelnuts (= filiberts, about 9 oz. ground)
1 1/3 cups sugar
grated rind of half a lemon
1 bar of semi-sweet chocolate
canola oil and matzo meal for pan
9″ round springform pan

Beat egg yolks until they are foamy, add lemon rind, then beat in sugar until creamy. Add nuts. Beat egg whites until stiff (=peaks in the foam will stay when you turn off your beater). Carefully fold the egg whites into the nut mixture. The nut mixture will be a little stiff but it will loosen up with careful folding in of the egg whites. Coat the pan with oil and matzo meal. Pour batter into the pan. Bake at 350F for one hour. Let cake cool off.

Melt the chocolate, add a teaspoon of canola oil (to keep it just a bit soft for cutting), and spread it over the cake.

Enjoy and Happy Passover!