I never thought much about the origins of torta caprese. Chocolate obsessed me has loved the torta cioccolato fondente e mandorle (dark chocolate and almond cake) for a lifetime. It’s a crowdpleaser that’s simple to whip together for any occasion and it’s a fun recipe to adapt with different ingredients. Although dark chocolate has a permanent place on our kitchen shelves, I find myself rummaging around for alternate ingredients for almonds. I’ve substituted them with walnuts, pistacchio nuts and hazelnuts. I’ve incorporated espresso into the batter and infused the torta caprese with citrus rind or ginger. It’s beautiful in its classic form or topped with fresh fruit or a cherry or apricot glaze. The possibilities are as endless as my imagination.Let’s go back to the origins of torta caprese. It was a popular dessert on the island of Capri in the 1920s and 1930s. There are many tales about how the recipe was born. The most widespread rumor is that torta caprese was invented by mistake by Chef Carmine di Fiore. While mixing up a chocolate and almond cake for three American visitors he forgot an essential ingredient: flour! The result was a compact intensely chocolate cake that was delicious and gluten-free years before gluten-free was a concern. Torta caprese quickly became one of the famous and requested cakes in Italy. It takes just one bite to understand why.
Here is my recipe. Buon baking!
Ingredients for 6 portions
150 g (5.3 oz) dark chocolate
220 g (2 sticks) butter
200 g (1 cup) sugar
200 g (1 + 2/3 cup) almonds
Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C).
Break the chocolate into large pieces. Melt it in a bain-marie over a moderate flame, stirring continuously. Once melted remove it and let it cool.
Incorporate the butter and sugar into the melted chocolate, mixing until smooth.
Chop the almonds. Add them to the chocolate mixture along with the egg yolks, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and gently fold them into the cake mix.
Butter a 26 cm cake pan. Pour the batter into the cake pan leveling it off with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven when it’s still soft and let it cool down to the point where it becomes a bit firm. Dust with powdered sugar. Serve.