Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2012 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Variation: Ganache Frosted Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake or Torta Caprese
This flourless chocolate cake, is also known as Torta Caprese in Italy, a traditional almond or walnut cake named for the island of Capri from which it originates. This recipe is not heavy or dense like other flourless chocolate cake recipes; because of the inclusion of ground almonds, the texture is almost light, although it is rich and moist. After baking, the cake has a thin hard shell covering a moist interior. It's wonderful served simply with a dusting of powdered sugar or cocoa powder —and/or served with whipped cream and berries on the side. It is perfect for Passover or for those on a gluten-free (gluten free) diet because it does not contain wheat flour.
Since we are serving this cake for Passover, we just used a dusting of cocoa and fresh raspberries, decorated with our Raspberry Puree Recipe. Or, you can optionally frost it with our chocolate ganache recipe. We hope you enjoy it when you serve it in your own home.
CAKE RECIPE HELP
To toast the nuts after blanching - toast the almonds in a single layer in a shallow pan in a 350 degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, shaking the pan a few times, until the almonds are lightly colored and give off a delicious smell of toasted almond when you open the door. Set aside to cool.
I already had ground blanched almond meal / flour (Bob's Red Mill brand) so used it. I spread it in a single layer on a baking sheet, and toasted it in the oven, for about 10 minutes at 300 degrees, stirring every three minutes or so. The almond meal can burn much faster than whole almonds, that is why I lowered the time and temperature. It toasts around the edges first, so make sure to stir often.
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) almonds, blanched and toasted* or walnuts
3/4 cup sugar; divided
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
6 ounces semisweet chocolate(for Passover), chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces or 12 tablespoons) unsalted butter or margarine(for Passover)
1/4 teaspoon salt(Use 1/8 teaspoon salt when using salted margarine)
1/8 cup cocoa powder, Natural or Dutch-processed
Fresh raspberries, garnish
Raspberry puree, optional
STEP I: MAKE THE CAKE
Preheat the oven, prepare the pan and ingredients:
1. Adjust a oven rack one-third up in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9- x 3-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper cut to fit. Grease the paper. Set the prepared pan aside.
3. Place the blanched and toasted almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar (reserve remaining 1/2 cup sugar) in a food processor fitted with a steel chopping blade. Pulse until the nuts are fine and powdery; take care not to run the machine continuously for more than a minute at a time so they turn into almond butter. Set aside.
Beat the egg whites:
SARAH SAYS: I like to beat the egg whites, first, instead of batter containing the yolks, so you do not have to worry about them getting contaminated with fat from the yolks. Properly beaten whites can sit for awhile after beating.
1. In the clean bowl of the stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice, starting on low speed and increasing it gradually.
2. When the whites barely hold a soft shape, reduce the speed a bit and gradually add the 1/4 cup sugar (reserve remaining 1/4 cup sugar).
3. Then, on high speed, continue to beat until the whites hold a stiff peak when the beaters are raised. Do not overbeat.
4. Scrape the beaten whites into a clean bowl and set aside in a cool place.
Complete the cake:
1. Place the chopped chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over warm water on moderate heat. Cover until partially melted, then uncover and stir until just melted and smooth. Remove the top of the double boiler and set aside until tepid or room temperature.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until softened. Add in the salt and 1/4 cup of the sugar and beat until lightened in color.
3. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating and scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary until smooth.
4. Temper the chocolate and add it to the butter / sugar / egg mixture:
a. Stir the melted chocolate;
b. Add a small spoonful of cake batter to it and stir;
c. Add another spoonful of cake batter to it and stir; and,
d. Return the chocolate mixture back to the main cake batter in the mixer bowl.
e. Mix on low speed beat until the mixtures are combined. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer bowl.
5. Then add the processed almonds and beat on medium-low speed, scraping the bowl, until incorporated.
6. Stir a large spoonful of the whites into the chocolate mixture and stir to soften it a bit.
7. Then, in three additions, fold in the remaining whites. Do not fold thoroughly until the last addition.
8. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan. Gently smooth the top.
Bake the cake and let cool:
1. Bake for 50 minutes or until it begins to pull away from side of pan and a tester comes out with moist crumbs adhering. The cake should remain soft and moist in the center. (The top might crack a bit; it's okay.)
2. Wet and slightly wring out a folded towel and place it on a smooth surface. Remove the cake pan from the oven and place it on the wet towel. Let cool until tepid or room temperature, about 60 minutes.
3. Release and remove the sides of the pan (do not cut around the sides with a knife—it will make the rim of the cake messy). Now, let the cake stand until it is completely cool, or longer if you wish.
NOTE: The cake will sink a little in the middle; the sides will be a little higher. Use a long, thin, sharp knife and level the top. Brush away loose crumbs.
4. Place a rack or a small 10- or 11-inch cake board over the cake and carefully invert.
Lift-off the bottom of the springform pan and carefully peal off the parchment paper lining.
5. The cake is now upside down; this is the way it will be iced or decorated before serving. Brush off any loose crumbs before proceeding.
6. Place 4 strips of baking-pan liner paper (each about 3- x 12-inches) around the edges of a cake plate.
Gently slide the cake from the cardboard cake round onto the plate; check to be sure that the cake is touching the paper all around (in order to keep the icing off the plate when you ice the cake). If you have a cake-decorating turntable or a lazy Susan, place the cake plate on it.
STEP II: DECORATE FOR PASSOVER
1. Sift unsweetened cocoa powder over the top of the cake, and garnish the center with raspberries.
2. Serve slices with raspberry puree on the plate.
The cake may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature. The cake freezes well for a month or more. Thaw in its wrappers at room temperature.
Ganache Frosted Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake or Torta Caprese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 teaspoons instant espresso or coffee powder; I prefer Medagalia D'Oro instant espresso powder
8 ounces semisweet chocolate(Passover), chopped into 1/4-inch pieces, melted
1. Warm the chopped chocolate a few seconds at a time in the microwave at 50% power for a total of 10 seconds; you do not want to melt the chocolate, but rather warm it.
Set aside briefly.
2. Scald the cream in a 5-to 6-cup saucepan over medium heat until it begins to form small bubbles around the edges or a thin skin on top.
3. Add the espresso or coffee powder to the cream and whisk to dissolve.
4. Add the chocolate and stir occasionally over the lowest heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Then, remove the pan from heat and whisk or stir until the chocolate is all melted and the mixture is smooth.
5. Let icing stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or a little longer, until icing barely begins to thicken.
6. Then, stir to mix, and pour it slowly over the top of the cake, pouring it onto the middle. Use a long, narrow metal spatula to smooth the top and spread the icing so that a little of it runs down the sides (not too much—the icing on the sides should be a much thinner layer than on the top). With a small, narrow metal spatula, smooth the sides.
7. Remove the strips of paper by removing each one out towrd a narrow end.
Store the ganche covered cake at room temperature for a day. Afterwards, store in the refrigerator. The cake freezes well for a month or more. Thaw in its wrappers in the refrigerator.