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Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

Serves: Makes 12 servings

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces (226 g) dark chocolate (55 to 60 percent cacao)
  • 1⅔ cups (250 g) skin-on almonds
  • 1 cup (226 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua (optional)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream, for serving


Procedures:

This rich cake takes its name from the island of Capri, where it originated. Many tales are told of the way the cake came about, perhaps the most charming of which recounts a visit to Capri in the 1920s from a group of Mafia men on behalf of Al Capone. Pastry chef Carmine Di Fiore was mortified when he realized he’d forgotten the flour in the cake, but the mobsters liked the moist, chocolaty confection so much they asked for its name. Di Fiore quickly replied, "Torta Caprese!" and it has kept that name ever since. The cake is renowned on the island and throughout the Amalfi Coast.

Pastry shops and home bakers often add a hint of liqueur, which is entirety optional; I like it with Kahlua, but Strega is more common on the Amalfi Coast.


Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C) with a rack in the center. Butter a 10-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a bowl placed over, but not touching, about an inch of simmering water. Set aside until cool. Process the almonds in a food processor until they have the texture of coarse cornmeal, stopping before they are as fine as flour.

Mix the butter with about half of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium speed until smooth, scraping the bowl as needed. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating and scraping the bowl between additions. At low speed, mix in the liqueur, if using, and the melted chocolate until well blended, then mix in the ground almonds. (Alternatively, use a handheld electric mixer.)

Beat the egg whites and salt in a clean bowl using a clean whisk attachment at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining ½ cup sugar, a little at a time, then continue to beat at high speed until firm peaks form that are not at all dry.

Using a large spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 50 to 55 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, run a knife around the edge of the cake, then release and remove the ring. Transfer the cake on the pan bottom to a serving plate, as I prefer, or invert onto the serving plate as they do in Capri.

To serve, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar, or top with a dollop of whipped cream.

Reprinted with permission from Southern Italian Desserts: Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily copyright © 2013 by Rosetta Costantino with Jennie Schacht. Photography copyright © 2013 by Sara Remington. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

by Southern Italian Desserts

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