The almond is a nut-like food found in cuisines the world over. When paired with chocolate in candies such as Toblerone, a Swiss treat made with milk chocolate and almonds that is always available in airports around Europe, and Jordan almonds (called confetti in Italian) which are given as favors at special occasions such as graduations, weddings and christenings, a great flavor combo is created. The same flavor combination can be found in a rich dessert which originated in the southern Italian island of Capri, called the torta caprese.
This sweet is a specialty from the region around Naples. Legend has it that the cake was invented in Capri (of course!) in the 1920s for visiting American tourists. The hotel cook reportedly forgot to add flour to his almond and chocolate cake. The visitors liked it so much that they asked for the recipe and dubbed it a Caprese, making it famous in Italy and abroad.
And since there’s no flour or baking powder used in the recipe, it’s a good dessert for anyone who can’t eat gluten.
Cooking time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Ingredients (makes 6-8 servings)
- 4 eggs
- 300g almonds, chopped into a fine powder
- 200g dark chocolate
- 200g butter
- 200g sugar
- 1Tbsp liqueur or liquor such as Sambuca or rum
- butter and cacao powder or cornmeal for coating the pan
- powdered sugar for decoration
- Separate the egg whites from the yolks.
- Whip the butter until creamy, then add the sugar a little at a time. Add the yolks to the mixture, then the almond powder. Mix until blended.
- Beat egg whites until they begin to turn white and form soft peaks.
- Melt the chocolate in a microwave or a double boiler (you can use a small pot filled with water, putting the chocolate in a larger pan or metal bowl over the heated water).
- Add the chocolate to the mixture, mix. Then slowly add the egg whites just until mixed, followed by the liqueur.
- Butter a cake pan and coat with cacao powder or cornmeal (this is to make sure the the cake doesn’t stick to the pan).
- Bake at 170°C for 45-50 minutes. (If you have a convection oven, you can bake at 160° for 40 minutes.)
- Let cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- (optional) You can have fun with the powdered sugar by simply cutting out paper in whatever shape or words you want before sprinkling on the sugar. Then carefully remove the paper and the black cake will contrast nicely with the white sugar!