Chocolate Torte Recipes
How do we solve the dilemma of the desire for artisanal chocolate with the search for gluten-free desserts? Answer: the flourless chocolate torte. One of my favorite recipes is a rich, soft, and moist, all-but-flourless chocolate cake which has well-defined flavors combining simplicity with elegance. Another is an Italian tenerina with a somewhat creamy interior, enclosed in a thin and fragile, but crisp, crust.
The first recipe reduces flour to just half a cup while the second substitutes potato starch for flour. The difference between potato flour and potato starch is critical in gluten-free baking. Both products are made from potatoes, but the flour is from whole potatoes while the starch is part of the starch component of peeled potatoes. It lends a light, fluffy texture to baked goods. Red Mill produces potato starch, and it can be found in health-food stores or specialty markets.
SOFT CHOCOLATE CAKE This recipe was developed by Bill Yosses, former pastry chef at New York’s Bouley Bakery and later executive pastry chef at Citarella. From 2007-2014, he served as the White House Executive Pastry Chef. For the chocolate, he suggests Valrhona Manjari from Madagascar (64%) or Pur Caraïbe (66%), but I have found Guittard’s Madagascar Criollo (65%) or Scharffen Berger’s Bittersweet Dark Chocolate (70%) works just as well. Adapted from Maricel E. Presilla, The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes, pages 138-139 (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley: 2000/2009). Time: 1 hour plus cooling Servings: 6 8 ounces dark chocolate (64% or higher), chopped into quarter-sized pieces 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into cubes 4 eggs 1 1/2 cups sugar 1/2 cup all-purpose flour I like to add these spices: 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (preferably Madécasse from Madagascar) 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (Sometimes I mix 1 tablespoon of ground culinary lavender with the sugar to give the cake a slightly tangy taste.) 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a well-buttered, 10-inch cake pan with parchment paper. 2. Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler or heatproof bowl over boiling water. Remove from the heat and let the mixture sit until melted, stirring occasionally. Add the vanilla. Keep warm, but off the heat while preparing the rest. 3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Sift the flour, to which nutmeg and cinnamon have been added, over the mixture and whisk to incorporate smoothly. 4. With a rubber spatula, fold the batter into the warm chocolate mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 30 minutes. 5. Have ready a serving plate larger than the cake pan. Place it firmly over the top of the cake and invert the cake onto the plate, tapping it firmly to help loosen it. Peel off the parchment. Let sit at room temperature until ready to serve. If you like, you can add toppings, such as crème anglaise.
ITALIAN FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE CAKE
Adapted from Cusina E. Butega Restaurant, Ferrara, Italy, by Florence Fabricant for The New York Times, Food Section, December 2, 2016.
Time: 45 minutes, plus cooling Yield: 4-6 generous servings 7 tablespoons/100 grams unsalted butter softened, plus more for pan 1/2 cup/60 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus more for dusting 4 ounces/113 grams 70 percent “top quality” dark chocolate 2 extra-large eggs, separated 2 tablespoons/20 grams potato starch 3 1/2 tablespoons/40 grams superfine sugar 1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Line bottom with parchment. 2. In a large bowl, using a mixer or by hand, beat the 7 tablespoons butter with the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and creamy. Melt chocolate in a pan on top of stove, preferably in a double boiler. Pour warm chocolate over the butter and sugar mixture and beat until smooth. Whisk in egg yolks one at a time. Stir in potato starch. 3. In a medium bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in superfine sugar and continue beating until firm peaks develop. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture. 4. Scrape the batter out of the bowl, and spread it in the pan. Bake for 18 minutes. Cake will rise and top will look dry and a little crackly. Remove pan from oven, place on a rack and allow to cool completely, about 2 hours. Cake will sink a bit. 5. Unmold cake, peel off parchment, then invert onto a serving dish so the crackly surface is on top. Generously sift confectioners’ sugar over the top, then serve.
Top and middle photos of chocolate tortes by the author/baker; bottom photo of the chocolate sunflower torte by Allan Lee.