This was one of the recipes Alice Medrich demonstrated in her class at Citronelle. In her book Pure Dessert, she described it as the soul of simplicity and was inspired by Claudia Roden in her book Book of Jewish Dessert. It was so easy to make , I was able to get it done in between making my apple pie and No-knead bread 2.0 (stay tuned for both in upcoming posts) . Just remember to have your egg whites at room temperature or you can warm it up quickly over a pan of simmering water. Note that the unsweetened chocolate is roughly chopped and further grounded up with the almonds, this gives it a very interesting texture. I made mine on a ¼ baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. That way you can lift it out and cut it up like brownies.
Oh, and if you haven’t signed up for the Cookbook giveaway for Pure Dessert yet you can do so here. The contest closes on Thursday, Dec 13th at 6pm.
Italian Chocolate-Almond Torte
From Alice Medrich’s Pure Dessert
1 cup (5 oz) unblanched or blanched whole almonds
7 ounces good quality unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
7 large egg whites (1 cup)
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
Powdered sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
Sweetened whipped cream for serving
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease the sides of a springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Combine the almonds, chocolate, ½ cup of the 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 of a stand mixer or using a hand-held mixer and a large bowl, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until soft, moist peaks are formed when the beaters are lifted. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar and continue to beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Add one-third of the nut mixture to the egg whites and fold in with a large 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 is risen and golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, or with a little melted chocolate, 25 to 30 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and invert the cake onto the rack. Remove the bottom of the pan and then the parchment liner. Turn the cake right side up and cool completely. Cover or wrap tightly, and store for up to 3 days at room temperature.
To serve, transfer the cake to a serving plate . Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa, and serve slices with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired.