13 August 2009

overheard in the hallway

"A flourless cake and a tailless cat."

"I know, what kind of crazy place is this," I said.

Italian chocolate-almond torte

1/2 cup whole almonds
3.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup sugar
1 tiny pinch salt
1/2 cup egg whites (4 large)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
powdered sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

6 inch springform pan

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the sides of the pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine the almonds, chocolate, 1/4 cup of sugar and the salt in a food processor and pulse until the almonds and chocolate are very finely chopped but not completely pulverized. Set aside.
In a clean dry bowl beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft, moist peaks are formed when the beaters are lifted. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue to beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Add one third of the nut mixture to the egg whites and fold in with a rubber spatula until nearly incorporated. Fold in half of the remaining nuts, then fold in the rest of the nuts.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake until the torte has risen and is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, or with a little melted chocolate, 25-30 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for ten minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and invert onto a plate. Remove the bottom of the pan and then the parchment liner. Turn the cake right side up and cool completely (you really must). Cover or wrap tightly and storefor up to 3 days at room temperature. To serve, top with powdered sugar or cocoa and a dollop of whipped cream if you like.

1/2 recipe from Alice Medrich, Pure Dessert (2007), after Claudia Roden.

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