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Chocolate Hazelnut Bon Vivant

Chocolate Hazelnut Bon Vivant Related:   desserts & sweets, gluten-free, vegetarian

Prep time: 30 mins + refrigeration

Cook time: 1 hour

Yield: About 18 servings

Recipe from Now for Something Sweet by the Monday Morning Cooking Club, contributed by the Benedict sisters:
Early in her marriage, Merelyn tasted a bon vivant cake made by her husband’s aunt Edith, and she begged and pleaded until she shared the recipe with her. Edith’s secret trick of roasting the hazelnuts before grinding gave her cake such a depth of flavour, and the family savoured it at every cousins’ gathering. Her children, grandchildren and cousins remember her fondly, and we are thrilled that Edith’s daughter, Maya Reed, now passes on the recipe.


  • Base
  • 250 g (1⅔ cups/9 oz) roasted hazelnuts (see note)
  • 8 egg whites
  • 250 g (1 cup + 1 tablespoon/9 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • Topping
  • 200 g (7 oz) dark chocolate (70%), chopped
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 160 g (⅔ cup/5⅔ oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 200 g (7 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature, chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Line a 33 x 22 cm (13 x 8½ inch) baking tin, leaving enough of an overhang that you can hold on to it when lifting the cake out.
  • Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and process until they resemble breadcrumbs.
  • To make the base, use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form and then, continuing to whisk, slowly add the sugar until stiff peaks form. With a metal spoon or spatula, gently fold in the hazelnuts. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until firm to the touch and golden on top. Cool completely before adding the topping.
  • To make the topping, melt the chocolate in the microwave or using the double boiler method. Set aside to cool slightly. With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale, then add the butter a little at a time until well combined. Add the melted chocolate and mix again.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture on top of the base and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes or until set. The topping will still wobble a little but will continue to set as it cools. Place on a wire rack to cool, then into the fridge to chill completely before slicing.
  • To avoid cracking when serving, using a sharp knife dipped in hot water, and slice the cake while still cold, then allow it to come to room temperature before serving. The cake can also be placed in the freezer and sliced while still frozen, then defrost to serve.
  • Note: To roast the hazelnuts, place on a baking tray and cook for 10 minutes or until lightly golden. Allow to cool, then rub them in a tea towel to remove their loose skins.
  • Reprinted with permission from Now for Something Sweet by the Monday Morning Cooking Club (HarperCollins, 2020)

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