Caprese Chocolate and Almond Torte
Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (20 minutes active) | Servings: 10
This flourless chocolate cake from Capri, Italy (where it is called torta caprese), gets its rich, almost brownie-like texture from ground almonds and a generous amount of egg. Before grinding the nuts, we toast them to intensify their flavor and accentuate the deep, roasted notes of the chocolate. We preferred the cake made with bittersweet chocolate containing 70 to 80 percent cocoa solids. You can, of course, use a lighter, sweeter bittersweet chocolate, but the cake will have less chocolate intensity. Serve slices warm or at room temperature dolloped with unsweetened whipped cream.
Don’t forget the reduce the oven to 300°F after toasting the almonds. Also, don’t overbake the cake or its texture will be dry and tough. Whereas most cakes are done when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, a toothpick inserted into this one should come out with sticky, fudgey crumbs, similar to brownies.
- 233 grams (21⁄3 cups) sliced almonds
- 5 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (see note), roughly chopped
- 199 grams (1 cup) packed dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Spread the almonds in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Cool to room temperature.
While the almonds cool, reduce the oven to 300°F. Mist the bottom and sides of 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, line the bottom with kitchen parchment, then mist the parchment. Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and add the vanilla; set aside.
In a food processor, process 185 grams (2 cups) of the almonds until finely ground, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the chocolate and pulse until the chocolate is finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Add the sugar and salt, then process until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed. With the machine running, gradually pour in the egg mixture. Continue processing until the batter is smooth and homogenous, about another 15 to 20 seconds. Remove the blade and scrape the bowl.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle evenly with the remaining 48 grams (1⁄3 cup) almonds. Bake until the center feels firm when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with moist, fudgey crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.
Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cake, then invert onto a rack. Peel off the parchment and reinvert the cake onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Spanish Almond Cake (Tarta de Santiago)
Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (10 minutes active) | Servings: 8
This flourless cake from Galicia, Spain, is traditionally made with separated eggs and flavored with citrus and/or cinnamon. We liked it made more simply, with whole eggs and just a small measure of vanilla and almond extracts. A sprinkling of chopped almonds and coarse raw sugar on top of the batter gives the surface a chewy-crisp crust that contrasts wonderfully with the dense, plush crumb of the cake’s interior. Crème fraîche and fresh berries are perfect accompaniments.
Don’t underbake the cake. Rather than use a skewer or toothpick to test the center for doneness, check the browning and crust development. The cake is ready when the surface is deeply browned and the crust feels firm when gently pressed with a finger. Don’t serve the cake warm. It’s texture is best when fully cooled.
- 240 grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) white sugar
- 3 large eggs, plus 3 large egg whites
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250 grams (21⁄2 cups) blanched almond flour
- 35 grams (3 tablespoons) turbinado or demerara sugar
- 37 grams (1⁄3 cup) sliced almonds, chopped
Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, line the bottom with a round of kitchen parchment, then mist the parchment.
In a large bowl, combine the white sugar, whole eggs and egg whites, salt and both extracts. Whisk vigorously until well combined, 30 to 45 seconds; the mixture will be slightly frothy and the sugar will not be fully dissolved. Add the almond flour and whisk until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle evenly with the turbinado sugar and chopped almonds. Bake until deeply browned and the crust feels firm when gently pressed with a finger, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Run a knife around the edges of the cake, then invert onto a plate. Remove the pan and parchment then re-invert the cake onto a serving plate. Let cool completely before serving.
Browned Butter and Coconut Loaf Cake
Start to finish: 5 hours (45 minutes active) | Makes one 9-inch loaf
This moist, dense, buttery loaf cake comes from Briana Holt of Tandem Coffee + Bakery in Portland, Maine. It’s baked until the exterior is deeply browned, developing rich, toasty flavors and an amazing aroma. A coconut syrup is brushed on while the cake is still warm and, after cooling, a coconut glaze coats the surface. Holt uses spelt flour, a whole-grain flour with a subtle nuttiness. If you prefer, you can use all-purpose flour instead; if so, the total amount of all-purpose would be 228 grams (13⁄4 cups). Don’t use whole-wheat flour in place of the spelt flour, as it changes the texture of the cake. Stored in an airtight container, the cake will keep at room temperature for up to three days.
Don’t attempt to warm the buttermilk to room temperature by heating it in the microwave or in a saucepan. Buttermilk curdles if overheated, so it’s best to let it stand on the counter until it reaches room temperature. If you’re in a rush, warm it very gently in a warm water bath. Don’t be afraid to brown the butter until the milk solids (the bits that separate out to the bottom) are deeply browned—almost black in color. They won’t taste scorched in the finished cake. Rather, they will infuse it with a rich, nutty flavor and aroma.
For the cake:
- 10 tablespoons (11⁄4 sticks) salted butter
- 36 grams (1⁄2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) unsweetened shredded coconut
- 98 grams (3⁄4 cup) all-purpose flour
- 135 grams (1 cup) spelt flour
- 1 1⁄4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk, room temperature
- 1 1⁄4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 214 grams (1 cup) white sugar, divided
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
For the syrup:
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 31 grams (2 tablespoons) white sugar
For the glaze:
- 62 grams (1⁄2 cup) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coconut milk
- 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
To make the cake, in a medium saucepan over medium, heat the butter, occasionally swirling the pan and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon, until dark amber and the milk solids at the bottom are almost black, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer, making sure to scrape in all of the milk solids. Cool until the butter is opaque, spreadable and cool to the touch, about 1 hour.
While the butter cools, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Spread the shredded coconut in a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan and toast in the oven until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Measure 1 tablespoon of the toasted coconut into a small bowl, then transfer the remainder to a medium bowl; set both aside. Let the pan cool.
Mist the loaf pan with cooking spray. Line it with an 8-by-12-inch piece of kitchen parchment, fitting the parchment into the bottom and up the pan’s long sides; mist the parchment with cooking spray. To the medium bowl with the coconut, whisk in both flours, the baking powder and salt. In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the buttermilk and vanilla.
Add the white sugar to the cooled browned butter. In the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar on medium until well combined, about 2 minutes, scraping the bowl about halfway through. With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after the first 2 additions. Beat on medium until the mixture is shiny and lightened in color, about 1 minute. With the mixer running on low, add half of the flour, then the buttermilk mixture, followed by the remaining flour mixture. Mix on low for about 10 seconds, then stop the mixer. Using a silicone spatula, fold the batter just until the flour is incorporated, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure no pockets of butter or flour remain.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake until the top is deeply browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few small crumbs attached, 75 to 80 minutes.
While the cake bakes, make the syrup. In a small microwave-safe bowl, stir together the coconut milk, white sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, stirring once about halfway through to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.
When the cake is done, cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using the parchment overhang as handles, remove the cake from the pan and set on the rack. With a toothpick, poke holes in the top of the cake at 1-inch intervals. Brush all of the syrup onto the cake, allowing it to soak in. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours. Remove and discard the parchment.
To make the glaze, in a medium bowl, whisk the powdered sugar, coconut milk and salt until smooth. Spoon over the cooled cake, spreading it to cover the surface and allowing it to drip down the sides slightly. Sprinkle with the reserved 1 tablespoon toasted coconut. Allow the glaze to dry for at least 5 minutes before serving.
PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES