Dallas, Texas (NAPSI) - There’s no question that chocolate is a crowd-pleaser. From snacks and baked goods to desserts and drinks, the flavor of chocolate signifies a sweet treat and a chance to indulge.

This holiday season, the pastry chefs at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts have developed delicious recipes that take chocolate to the next level and prove decadent doesn’t have to be difficult.

Thanks to Chef Edward Leonard, certified Master Chef and vice president of culinary education for Le Cordon Bleu, his special recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut Torte will help anyone create the perfect centerpiece dessert for any holiday party or great edible gift.

“This year, we’re seeing great new chocolate desserts that incorporate other flavors that make the perfect indulgent treat for the holidays,” said Chef Leonard.

Le Cordon Bleu pastry chefs recommend giving your chocolate dessert a seasonal flair by creating new flavors with unique ingredients, such as:

• caramel

• salt

• herbs and spices

• beer

• espresso powder

• a variety of nuts

These ingredients will quickly help your dessert become a family favorite and stand out from the crowd at parties.

Students at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts learn the foundational techniques necessary to develop the skills to create exceptional dishes. Regardless of your comfort in the kitchen, a delicious chocolate dish provides a great opportunity to create a decadent dessert that will make for a memorable holiday meal.

“If you are looking to learn how to create new desserts or want to brush up on your culinary skills, I encourage you to attend a Le Cordon Bleu MasterChef class,” said Chef Leonard. “Our campuses around the country host hands-on classes where foodies can experience a class with a professional Le Cordon Bleu instructor.”

To learn more about Le Cordon Bleu, visit www.chefs.edu.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

½ cup peeled hazelnuts

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon quality cocoa

¼ teaspoon Kosher salt

4 large eggs, room temperature

6 ounces 72% cacao extra bittersweet chocolate baking chips

6 ounces cold unsalted butter, diced

2 tablespoons Nutella

½ cup granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup granulated white sugar

Toast nuts: Place hazelnuts in 300°F oven for 10−12 minutes. In food processor, pulse nuts, flour, cocoa and salt until finely ground.

Heat oven to 375°F. Line the bottom of an 8 x 3-inch spring-form pan with parchment paper that has been rubbed with cold butter. Separate eggs. Melt chocolate, butter and Nutella in a stainless steel bowl over a small pan of low simmering water. Remove from heat; reserve.

With electric mixer, beat egg yolks, ½ cup sugar and vanilla until pale and thick (about 4−5 minutes), creating a ribbon effect when you lift beater. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the warm chocolate mixture. Then fold in the ground nut mixture; reserve.

In a clean stainless steel bowl, with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites at medium speed until foamy; add cream of tartar. Whisk just until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating at high speed, until meringue is fluffy and still moist.

With a whisk, fold ⅓ of the whites into the chocolate batter. Quickly fold in the remaining whites. Do not overmix. Pour mixture into prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake 30 to 40 minutes. Check cake by placing a toothpick into the center of the cake; when done, moist crumbs will appear.

Cool in pan on wire rack for about 15 minutes. It will slightly rise and fall a bit in the center. Remove from pan. Serve with chocolate sauce and soft whipped cream, if desired.