TORTA DI NOCCIOLA (hazelnut torte, from Piemonte, for eight)
2 cups hazelnuts (filberts)
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
8 egg whites, at room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350*. Butter a 9 inch spring form pan with 3 inch sides. Dust the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
2. In a food processor, combine the nuts with ½ cup of the sugar and process to chop finely. Add the flour and pulse to blend. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
3. In another bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, beat together the egg whites and salt until foamy. Increase the speed to high and gradually beat in the remaining ¾ cup sugar until the whites form soft peaks. Add the vanilla and beat until stiff, about 2 minutes longer.
4. Using a rubber spatula, fold about 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the groundnut mixture to lighten it. Gradually fold in the remaining whites just until no white streaks remain. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly.
5. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Release and remove the pan sides and slide the cake off of the base onto the rack. Let cool completely before serving.