Part I: Gâteau aux Noisettes Experiments

I’ve come across hazelnut cakes or “Gâteau aux Noisettes” during our travels lately, both in French and German-speaking Switzerland. While our son has tested positive for an almond allergy, he can safely eat hazelnuts, peanuts and all other tree nuts—though he hasn’t tried them all yet. Of course, these cakes often contain dairy and eggs, so I’ve been experimenting with an allergy-friendly version at home. After two cakes this week, I still haven’t perfected the recipe. This latest cooking obsession all started with our spring visit to Valangin.


Father’s Day in Valangin

To celebrate Father’s Day this year, we traveled by bus to Valangin in the canton of Neuchâtel. Our primary destination was the Château et Musée de Valangin, perched on a hill above the small village. The museum held a lot of great furniture and other historic artifacts, while being a manageable size to navigate with our small children. In particular, I loved touring the castle’s 16th century kitchen that had a wall adorned with kugelhopf pans—the predecessor to my beloved bundt cakes.

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Sampling Hazelnut Cakes

After touring the castle, we stopped at Weber confiserie and pâtisserie, which opened its doors in 1874. I immediately spotted a brown tart with a semi-transparent, light pink icing. After using my embarrassingly bad French skills, the patient clerk behind the counter told me it was a “Gâteau aux Noisettes.” We tried it back at home after the boys were in bed. It had a mildly sweet and nutty flavor that pairs well with coffee. Its shape reminded me of a frisbee.

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Fast forward to this afternoon, with my in-laws visiting and my youngest taking a nap. I ran out and picked up another version of the hazelnut cake from our local shop. It has a similar flavor and icing, but instead with a moist and cakey texture. To be honest, I prefer this version to the one from Valangin.

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My second attempt at a Swiss hazelnut cake was given mixed reviews, so it still needs a lot of work. After trying a new version of this local specialty today, I am planning a different approach to my allergy-friendly recipe. Luckily with my in-laws here, they can help eat all the extra cake!

As always, if you have a Swiss recipe to share, please send it my way. And, thanks so much for your interest, advice and support. Bon week-end!

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