Chocolate Torte

A ‘torta caprese’ is a gluten-free chocolate lover’s delight. I first made this with manually chopped chocolate which produced a speckled torte, so I recommend using a food processor for a smoother, more traditional finish.

Flavour additions and topping suggestions (including making candied orange slices) are in the footnotes.

Serves: 12 – 16

Ingredients

  • 200g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (plus extra cold butter to grease tin)
  • 200g dark baking chocolate (min. 70% cocoa)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated (260g – 280g in total when weighed in their shells)
  • 1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 250g ground almonds

Kit

  • A 9″ (24cm) diameter round springform cake tin
  • Baking/parchment paper to line tin’s bottom
  • 2 large mixing bowls
  • Electric mixer (hand-held or stand)
  • Food processor (it’s really difficult to chop the chocolate finely enough by hand)
  • Metal spoon or spatula, for folding
  • Cooling rack

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 170 C (150 C fan-assisted).
  2. Cover the springform tin’s bottom with paper, with a large overhang, before easing it into the tin and clipping it. (Trim off the extra paper once the bottom’s firmly settled in.) Grease well all around the inside of the tin ring.
  3. Blitz the chocolate as finely as you can get it.
  4. Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff peaks form. Start at low speed and gradually increase to high speed as the colour and texture changes.
  5. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks in a separate bowl on high speed until extremely light and fluffy (no need to clean the beaters from the whites). Be warned – this will take at least 5 – 7 minutes, so be patient.
  6. Add the butter, blitzed chocolate, cocoa powder, and ground almonds to the yolk mixture, folding as gently as possible to retain the whisked air. Add the egg whites and fold carefully until no white lumps or streaks remain.
  7. Pour the batter into your prepared tin. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes, turning tin halfway through for even baking, until the centre is firm yet bouncy. Check at 35 minutes to see if it’s getting quite dark – if so, reduce the oven to 160 C (140 C fan-assisted) for the remaining baking time.
  8. Cool the cake in the tin on a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then slide a spatula (or palette knife) around the inside of the ring. Un-clip and lift off the ring, and slide off the tin’s bottom before topping the torte and serving.

Flavour Additions
So many flavours work well with chocolate – you could add up to 2 tsp of extract (not ‘essence’) such as orange, cherry, almond, or even peppermint if you like. As an alternative, you could add the grated zest of one orange, or of two limes. (Add these to the sugar and egg yolks while you’re whisking.)

Coffee enhances chocolate’s taste, so adding 2 tsp coffee or espresso granules is a good idea, on its own or with other additions. (Again, add to the sugar and egg yolks.)

Topping Suggestions
You can top each serving with fresh raspberries or other soft fruit; a dusting of icing sugar, cocoa powder, or desiccated coconut; and/or a spoonful of creme fraiche or whipped cream. The recipe picture shows my torte garlanded with home-made candied orange slices.
(Confession: I originally made this recipe mostly because I wanted something to put home-made candied orange slices on. I wasn’t disappointed, and nor were my tasters. But it’s fantastic with any of the suggested toppings.)

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