I’ve made no secret of my inability to bake. I have burned sheet after sheet of misshapen cookies and pulled countless cakes from the oven that failed to rise. A few years ago, after yet another bundt cake that had somehow been Super Glued to the pan, I threw both pan and cake into the trash — a very liberating experience.
Then there was the Fall that I was going to teach myself to bake my favorite cake, the Black Forest Cake. Yum, right? The first attempt quite literally made me sick. I couldn’t get that thing to the trash quick enough. The next week brought another attempt. That “cake” was better — it wasn’t life-threatening — but was certainly nothing to be proud of. The third cake proved I was on the right track, though it was in no way good enough to share with anyone. I hit pay-dirt with my 4th and, what would prove to be, my last attempt. That cake was a delight. Good thing, too, because that was 6 years ago and it was the last Black Forest Cake that I’ve tasted. Oh, I’ve been tempted to have a piece but, when I am, there’s a rumble down under that convinces me that now is not the time.
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Perhaps it was my success with this torte that gave me the mistaken opinion that I could bake, leading me to the Black Forest Cake debacle. I first saw Jamie Oliver prepare the torte when he was known as The Naked Chef, so, this recipe has been around for some time. I’ve made it a number of times since without any problems whatsoever — not counting a misguided attempt to make it as a bundt cake with that accursed pan. Never mind that. Believe me. If I can bake this torte anyone can.
Now, a word about the recipe before proceeding. If you go searching for it on the web, you’ll find it titled a number of ways. Jamie Oliver’s: “Chocolate Torte”; “Flour-less Chocolate Torte”; and, “Two Nut Chocolate Torte”, are the most popular. Bear in mind that this recipe was demonstrated in an episode that aired in 2000, some time before most of us were aware of gluten-related issues. In fact, I’ve even see the recipe called “Flour-less” yet you’re instructed to grease and flour the pan before filling it with cake batter. Not to worry. This torte is gluten-free, hence the name change, and I coat the pan with powdered cocoa, not flour.
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Gluten-Free Chocolate Torte Recipe
- 5 1/2 oz (155 g) shelled and peeled almonds
- 5 1/2 oz (155 g) shelled walnuts, finely ground
- 11 oz (310 g) semi-sweet chocolate (separated – 2/3 & 1/3)
- 1 heaped teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 9 oz (255 g) butter
- 3 1/2 oz (100 g) sugar
- 6 large free-range eggs, separated
- cocoa powder
- powdered sugar
- Pre-heat the oven to 375˚ F (190˚ C). Use butter to grease the bottom of an 8 to 10 inch spring-form pan before lining the bottom with a piece of parchment paper. Butter the paper and sides of the pan. Use cocoa powder to coat the greased pan.
- Place the almonds into a food processor and grind them until finely ground.
- Add the walnuts and continue processing until all are finely ground. (See Notes)
- Add a pinch of salt and 2/3 of the chocolate and process for 30 seconds. Remove the nut-chocolate mixture to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the butter and sugar to the food processor and run until the mixture is a pale yellow and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks, one by one, and process until well-blended.
- Add the egg mixture to the bowl with the chocolate mixture and stir until well-combined.
- Add the egg whites to a mixing bowl with a pinch of salt. Using a whisk, hand mixer, or stand mixer, beat the eggs until stiff peaks form. (See Notes)
- Take 1/3 of the beaten egg whites and fold them into the bowl with the eggs and chocolate. Once blended, add the remaining 2/3 of the egg whites and fold into the batter. Do not over mix. (See Notes)
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Place the remaining chocolate chunks into the top of the torte’s batter. Press them slightly into the batter, though no need to cover them with batter.
- Bake on the center rack of a pre-heated oven for about an hour. After 55 minutes, use a knife to check to see if the torte is finished. Place the knife into the center, wait a few seconds, and remove. The blade should be relatively clean.
- Once cooled, remove from pan, invert to remove the paper, and place on a cake platter. Dust with powdered sugar.
- Serve as-is or with a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche.
This is a recipe from Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef
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Be sure to keep an eye on your nuts when using the food processor or you may end up with almond-walnut butter.
To remove the almond skins: Add raw, shelled almonds to a small sauce pan filled with boiling water. Remove from the water after 3 minutes, placing the blanched nuts into an ice water bath. Strain and wipe dry. Squeeze each almond between your thumb and index finger to easily remove the skin.
This is how I beat egg whites:
- Bring eggs to room temperature before separating. Be sure no yolk remains in the whites.
- Place the whites in a mixing bowl. Whether whisking by hand or using a mixer, begin slowly at first. After about 30 seconds, continue beating at medium speed.
- Once the eggs begin to color, beat at a higher rate until beaten to the recipe’s needs.
The beaten egg whites provide lift for this torte. If they aren’t folded into the batter correctly, the torte will not rise. Here’s a quick video demonstrating the proper technique for folding egg whites into batter.
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For the chocoholics among us
Make a simple ganache.
- Place 8 oz (225 g) of chocolate pieces in a heat-resistant bowl – use whatever type of chocolate you prefer
- Heat 10 oz (300 ml) of heavy cream to the point of boiling.
- Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and let sit for a couple of minutes before stirring until smooth. As it cools, the ganache will thicken.
- If you prefer your ganache to be flavored, once the ganache is fully mixed, add 2 or more tbsp of:
- * Framboise for raspberry flavoring;
- * Grand Marnier or Cointreau for orange;
- * Amaretto for almond; or
- * Kahlúa for coffee.
- Either pour the ganache over the entire cake or each piece as it is served.
I usually make half the amount listed here and store the remainder in a sealed container in the fridge. I’ve no idea how long it will last because kitchen elves snack on it until it’s gone, usually within 48 hours — within 72 hours when Girl Scout cookies are atop the counter.
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It’s déjà vu all over again …
Carnivale ends today in Italy, as it does round the World. In the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, celebrations of all kinds take place, each with its own particular sweets and confections. In New Orleans, it’s King Cake. In Chicago, it’s fried donuts called Paczkis. In the Bartolini kitchens, it was fiocchetti, which we called angel wings. These fried dough crisps, in one form or another, are made throughout Italy this time of year and go by a number of names. You can learn how to make them just by clicking HERE.
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Coming soon to a monitor near you …
Pork Tenderloin with Plum Sauce
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