Flourless Chocolate-Almond Cake (Torta Caprese)
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Containing no flour and leavened by whipped egg whites alone, this flourless chocolate-almond cake is at once light, rich, and moist. Bittersweet chocolate makes it perfectly sweet, and ground almonds give it a wonderful texture throughout. It can stand alone without any garnish, but it’s especially good with a dollop of whipped cream and fresh raspberries.
On Christmas Eve my mother served this torta caprese — a flourless, chocolate-almond torte originating from the Isle of Capri — for dessert. Not a single person sitting at the table, nine in total, turned down seconds. Later that evening, Santa even helped himself to thirds.
I love this class of cakes, those that can stand on their own, that don’t beg for layers of buttercream, pools of crème pâtissière, or glazes of chocolate ganache. This one, like the orange-and-olive oil cake and the Chez Panisse almond torte, fits into this class.
Containing no flour and leavened only by whipped egg whites, this torte is at once light, rich, and moist. Ground almonds give it a wonderful texture throughout, and a splash of Grand Marnier offers a lovely, complementary hint of orange.
Made with bittersweet chocolate, it is perfectly sweet, and when it bakes, a brownie-like, most-delicious, paper-thin crust forms on the top-most layer. It is every bit elegant the finale of a special occasion should be. I hope you find time to celebrate it soon.
How to Make Torta Caprese, Step by Step
First, gather your ingredients.
Then, grind the almonds with some of the sugar in the food processor until fine.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or a microwave if you have one.
Separate the eggs.
Then beat the yolks with some of the sugar until pale yellow and thick.
Add the chocolate-butter mixture to the eggs, followed by the ground almonds, and stir to combine.
Add the salt and Grand Marnier, if using, and stir to combine.
Beat the egg whites with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form.
Then fold the egg whites into the batter in two additions.
Transfer the batter to a buttered- and parchment-lined springform pan.
Source: The Best American Recipes 1999
Notes: Like the orange-and-olive oil cake and the Chez Panisse almond torte, this one stays moist and delicious for days, so don’t be afraid to make it ahead of time. If you are abstaining from alcohol, the Grand Marnier, or other liqueur, is truly optional — delicious and moist with or without.
Chocolate: I like the Guittard 74% cacao wafers. No need to chop if you use the wafers. I also have success simply pouring the hot melted butter over the wafers in a bowl, letting them sit for a minute, then stirring.
- 12 oz (340 g) unblanched whole or sliced almonds
- 1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar, divided
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, see notes above
- 8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
- 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, optional
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, optional
- flaky sea salt, optional
- fresh berries such as raspberries
- Preheat oven to 325ºF and set a rack on the lower or middle level. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper.
- Grind the almonds in a food processor with 1/3 cup of the sugar. (Post grinding, your almond-sugar mixture will be about 3 cups).
- In a bowl over simmering water or in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave, melt the chocolate and butter together. Set aside.
- Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer until lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in 2/3 cup of the sugar. Add the chocolate mixture, stirring to mix well. Add the ground almonds and stir to incorporate. Add the salt, and the 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier, if using, and stir to combine.
- In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until they form firm peaks. In two additions, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55 minutes to an hour or longer — a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or if you have an instant-read thermometer, it should register 205ºF or above.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan, then let cool completely.
- When the cake has cooled, transfer it to a serving platter. Just before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top.
- Optional: beat 1/2 cup heavy cream with a few tablespoons of confectioners sugar and a pinch of flaky sea salt until soft peaks form — I do this with my flat-bottomed whisk (which I love: it’s the Xlarge Whipper). Taste. Add more sugar and/or salt to taste, and beat lightly again — I love whipped cream that’s still soft and billowy in texture and not too sweet. Serve each slice with a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh berries, if you have them.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: Italian/American
Keywords: flourless, chocolate, almond, cake, torta, caprese