My poor mother is allergic to wheat, it won’t kill her or cause her to go into anaphylactic shock, but it certainly doesn’t make her feel good. After my mother finally figured out that it was wheat that was making her feel so crumby, I really started noticing how limited she was when she was out at restaurants, at friends houses for dinner and her options at the grocery store. I also made note of all of the people that I met who had the same allergy or worse, celiac disease.
There are a number of products on the market here that are wheat and gluten free, but they are expensive and not terribly good. We found that the products that they had on the market in Italy were 1000 times better. Delicious corn pasta, delicate cookies made from barley that tasted like Dutch speculaas and a wonderful recipe from Capri for a flourless chocolate cake with ground almonds.
This torta caprese is phenomenal, light, chocolatey, not too rich and despite the copious amounts of sugar and butter, probably healthier than a regular chocolate cake. Almonds are filled with wonderful fats, protein, are great for your heart, could lower your cholesterol, they may even help you loose weight! Though again, all of that sugar and butter probably counteracts all of those good things.
Torta Caprese adapted from Naples at Table, Cooking in Campania by Arthur Schwartz
- 12 ounces blanched and peeled almonds, finely ground (can be found at most health food stores in the bulk section)
- 6 tbsp sugar
- 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (my husband didn’t think it was enough chocolate, I will probably use the entire 12 ounce bag the next time)
- 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
- 6 eggs, separated
- 10 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan (I skipped the flour for my mom and it came out of the pan perfectly). Line the bottom with wax paper or baking parchment. Butter and flour the lining (I also skipped this and realize that my cake would have been much prettier of I had actually read the recipe!).
In the bowl of a food processor, using the metal blade, grind the almonds in 3 batches, pulsing each with 2 tbsp of sugar, for a total of 6 tbsps. Set aside.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter together.
In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until lemon colored, about 5 minutes, the gradually beat in the 10 tbsp of sugar.
Add the melted chocolate and butter the egg yolks. Stir to mix well. Fold in the ground almonds and stir well to incorporate.
In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the final 1/4 cup sugar until they are stiff.
Fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter in 2 additions.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake on a cookie sheet, in the lower third of the preheated oven for 90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let cook on a rack for 15 minutes before removing the sides of the springform.
When the cake has cooled, turn it upside down onto a serving plate. Remove the wax paper or parchment. Before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top (which was formerly the bottom).
One Year Ago: Panzanella