I am really excited about sharing the recipe for torta caprese. Well, I feel the same for all the recipes I post on Coochinando, but guess what. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I am of course planning an exciting evening. IN! And torta caprese is one part of a four-course meal…
If you are single, before hating me, carry on reading! I promise this is not yet another post about hearts and Valentine’s Day.
Going out on Valentine’s Day hasn’t been on our agenda for a long time. So we are going to stay in and I will treat George to a yummy dinner.
Everyone wins: I get to cook, he gets to eat good food and we won’t have to go to a restaurant crowded with people, being served only dishes from a pre-set menu.
I don’t believe in Valentine’s as a day just for couples. Just a day to say I love you to those who are close to your heart: family, friends or pets… It doesn’t really matter!
On Valentine’s Day my daddy always used to bring home something special for my mum and me. And I remember my mum would bake something special, usually my dad’s favourite cake.
Here I am, carrying on a family tradition, planning to bake torta caprese, one of the masterpieces of Neapolitan patisserie.
Last time I had torta caprese was when my aunt Carla, my daddy’s sister, made it for a family gathering last July. This chocolate and almond torte is delicate and soft and it is a great way to end a meal. The problem being that you are likely to end up eating more than a slice, if you are as “golosa” as I am.
If you are still undecided about what to get your loved one (well, not pets as I don’t think it would be healthy), surprise them with a torta caprese. And if there is any left: no fear, you can still have it for breakfast… :-p
- 300g almonds with skin on (or you can use pre-peeled ones, whole, not chopped)
- 300g dark chocolate (at least 72% cocoa)
- 250g unsalted butter
- 5 medium-sized eggs
- 200g sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder
- A few almonds to decorate
- Icing sugar for dusting
If you are using almonds with the skin on, place them in a saucepan with boiled water and let them soak until the water cools to room temperature.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the butter and chocolate and place them in a plate on top of a steaming saucepan. When completely melted, set aside and let it cool down.
When the almonds are properly soaked, peel them. The quickest way is to hold one extremity and push the skin the opposite way. This should allow you to get rid of the whole skin in one go. Dry them roughly with a clean tea towel or some kitchen paper.
Line a tray with oven paper. Place the peeled almonds on it and toast them slightly in the oven for a few minutes at 180 degrees, or until they start acquiring a darker colour.
When ready, take out of the oven and let them cool down.
In a mixer reduce them to fine (but not too fine) crumbs. You need to pay attention because overheated blades might encourage the almonds to release their oil, which we want to make sure the almonds retain as it is important for the moistness of our cake. So mix them for 30 seconds and stop, start again and stop. Set aside. This is a key step because it is going to play the role of the flour, which is missing from this recipe.
Place a bowl in the freezer, in which you will later mount the egg whites.
Divide the egg whites from the yolks.
Mix the sugar and the yolks and the vanilla powder for about 10 minutes, until you obtain a smooth and very pale yellow compost, fluffy, with air bubbles.
Add this mix to the butter and chocolate mix and incorporate them together with a whisk, then add the finely crumbled almonds and incorporate them into the mix with a wooden spoon.
Take the bowl out of the freezer, add the egg whites, a pinch of salt and whisk them until they become very firm. The test is to take the bowl and turn it upside down. If it stays firm, it means it is ready.
Add the firmly whisked egg whites to the chocolate and almond compost and with a wooden spoon gently stir it from bottom to top. This is a key step that will grant the cake its natural softness.
Line a round baking dish (23cm) with butter and flour and pour the mixture in.
Place in the preheated oven at 180°C (160°C fan) for at least 25 minutes (up to 50 minutes, it depends also on your oven) OR until a skewer inserted in comes out clean. If not, leave in it for an extra 10 minutes.
When ready, let it rest for a couple of hours.
Sprinkle icing sugar before serving.
Decorate with almonds and share it with those who make you smile and laugh!