One of my chocoholic GF GFs (gluten-free girl friends, of course) was having a party for herself and I tasked myself with bringing a madly chocolate flourless chocolate cake. It is just too hot here at the moment (in my opinion, anyway) to do the traditional sort of “big hunk of basically fudge on a plate” GF cake, but I dug around online and found several recipes for Torta “Caprese”. Mmmm…
Nothing to do with the salad of the same name, other than sharing a (fictional or not, I do not know) geographical heritage, this dense yet light, nutty chocolate cake served the purpose nicely.
The hardest thing about it is the clean up after. It requires several bowls (separated eggs, doncha know) and my food processor, and I try to be a one-bowl girl whenever I can, but it was worth the mess.
I read several “different but similar” recipes and decided to stop. Apparently this is one of those “my grandmother’s recipe is the real one” sorts of recipes, and since neither of my grandmothers ever saw any part of Italy, never mind Capri specifically, I just went with what sounded right to me and added a few things. So, without further mess or ado, I give you:
Nearly Every Bowl in the House Torta Caprese
1 stick (4 oz) of butter, plus a bit to grease the pan
1 C sugar (divided in thirds)
1-1/2 C blanched slivered almonds
1 C (8 oz) good chocolate chips or bar chocolate
1/2 tsp good cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
zest of one lemon, finely chopped
pinch of salt
powdered sugar, whipped cream, or ice cream (optional)
Grease (generously) an 8-, 9-, or 10-inch spring-form pan*. Preheat the oven to 350F. Baking time will vary depending on pan size (see below).
Melt the stick of butter, on stovetop or in microwave. Do not let it brown. Set aside.
In a food processor, grind the almonds and 1/3 cup sugar until quite fine. Put this mixture in a medium bowl. Then, without bothering to clean the blade or bowl, grind the chocolate, cinnamon and another 1/3 cup sugar until fairly fine but not paste. Add to the ground almond mixture and whisk to incorporate. Now you can wash the food processor bowl.
Separate the eggs (carefully), putting the yolks in a large size bowl and the whites in a medium (to allow for expansion) metal (ideally) bowl. (I put the bowl with the whites in the freezer until I was ready to beat them, but that’s Texas in the summer.) Anyway, beat the 5 yolks with the last 1/3 cup of sugar until it “ribbons”. Then add in the vanilla and almond extract and the finely chopped lemon zest and incorporate well. I used a hand mixer for the yolks… as soon as you achieve the “ribbon” and add the extracts and zest you can clean the beaters (or you can beat the egg whites with a clean whisk – do not put those nasty eggy beaters in your nice clean whites, though!).
Add the chocolate/almond/sugar mix to the ribbony yolks and fold to incorporate, then add the (slightly cooled) butter and blend well. This will make a fairly heavy shiny paste of sorts. Set aside and beat the egg whites and the pinch of salt (with clean beaters, right?) to stiff peaks. Add this in thirds to the chocolate/almond etc base and fold in as best you can. By the final third you will actually be able to fold in the whites.
Pour the batter into the spring-form pan and bake 40-60 minutes. The smaller the pan the longer the baking time. Sounds odd, but the smaller the pan the deeper the batter, so… test for doneness with a toothpick as you would for any cake. Let it cool in the pan, then carefully run a knife around the edge before removing the spring-form ring.
*I put parchment in the bottom of my spring-form pan as it is oddly textured and I have learned (the hard way) that cakes do not come out nicely. Poor (and very odd) design, but the parchment does the trick.
You can top it with powdered sugar, or whipped cream or ice cream if you like. I don’t think it is at all necessary, though. This cake travels well, so is a great pot-luck dessert. It will keep out of the fridge (hahahaha… you really think there will be any left? I think not!) overnight, or in the fridge for maybe 2 days. I have not tried freezing it. Whisper to your GF GFs that they can eat this, and don’t even bother explaining the whole GF thing to anyone else.
Serve with coffee, tea, or limoncello… mmmmm… molto bene!