I Love Chocolate

by Stephanie Zonis


Bittersweet Chocolate-Almond Torte

10 servings


If you love the flavors of chocolate and almond, this will be right up your alley. It is a dense, moist, single-layer torte with almond paste, topped by a bittersweet glaze and decorated with chopped almonds. The cake is made with an electric mixer. I recommend a stand mixer, as the batter is quite thick—so thick you'll think you need to add more liquid. Don't! The cake will bake up fine. As it cools, the center will sink somewhat, but don't fear; you'll cover the sunken area with the glaze.

Please use the best-quality chocolate you can find here. The cake will end up being on the sweet side due to the high sugar content of the almond paste, but the glaze will help to temper that sweetness slightly. As for almond paste, I like a brand imported from Denmark, called "Odense". It is packaged in a silver-colored, seven-ounce roll in a box; you'll need one roll for this torte. Any almond paste you use should be pliable and semi-firm; if it's dry and crumbly, don't use it. The finished torte keeps for at least one week in the refrigerator, if tightly wrapped; it also freezes well (thaw in wrappings in the refrigerator for at least 6 to 8 hours). To serve this cake, remove it from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving time if you want the glaze to cut neatly. Incidentally, this is quite rich, so serve small slices.

1 roll (7 ounces) good-quality almond paste,
   broken into small pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. orange liqueur
1 Tbsp. almond liqueur
1 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, graded "large",
   preferably at room temperature
6 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate,
   melted and cooled
1/2 cup sifted cake flour
Few grains salt

4 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate,
   finely chopped
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) unsalted butter,
   cut into thin pats
1 tsp. light corn syrup
Few grains salt

About 1/2 ounce (2 Tbsp.) unblanched (skin on) almonds,
   finely chopped

Optional For Serving:
Lightly sweetened whipped cream
Fresh strawberries or raspberries


For Torte:
Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Assemble an 8-inch round springform pan at least 2-3/4 inches in height. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit the pan bottom. Butter the inside of the pan, then place the parchment round on the pan bottom (the parchment round is optional, but it ensures that you won't scratch the pan bottom when the cake is cut). Dust the inside of the pan lightly with all-purpose flour, carefully knocking out any excess (be careful not to disturb the springform "clip" that holds the sides of the pan to the bottom when you do this). Note that flour will not stick to the unbuttered parchment circle. Set prepared pan aside.

In large bowl of electric mixer (preferably fitted with paddle beater), combine small pieces of almond paste with softened butter. Beat 1 minute at medium speed. (Scrape bowl and beater(s) often throughout mixing process in order to ensure thorough blending of ingredients.) Add sugar; beat at medium speed 2 minutes longer. Add liqueurs and vanilla.

On a low speed, add eggs, one at a time. When all eggs have been added, increase speed to medium; beat for 1 minute. At low speed, add cooled melted chocolate; beat to incorporate. Add flour and salt and beat only until combined. Batter will be very thick and fluffy, like a stiff frosting. Do not add more liquid. Place batter by small spoonfuls all over the bottom of the pan. With back of spoon, spread evenly.

Bake 47 to 57 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center emerges with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not overbake. While baking, cake will rise, and center may be slightly higher than edges. Remove baked cake to cooling rack; allow to stand 15 minutes.

Gently and carefully release cakes from sides of pan with a thin-bladed knife (I use a plastic knife so I don't scratch the pan). Carefully release clip on pan sides; remove sides from cake. Do not remove pan bottom now. Allow cake to cool completely before glazing. Cake will sink in center while cooling-OK.

When cake is completely cooled, remove pan bottom if you used parchment paper. To do this, run a thin-bladed spatula carefully between pan bottom and parchment; remove pan bottom (if you didn't use the parchment, leave the cake on the bottom of the pan). Place cake on serving plate.

For Glaze:
In small bowl, combine all ingredients. Place over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Stir often just until melted and smooth; remove from heat and hot water. Dry bowl bottom and sides. Allow Glaze to stand at room temperature until barely warm, stirring occasionally. Gently pour all of the Glaze into the hollow of the torte and spread to cover the hollow and some of the torte top (stop about 1 inch before the edges all around). With the Glaze in place, the top of the torte should be much closer to level.

For Garnish:
Immediately, before Glaze has a chance to set, sprinkle the chopped almonds all over the top of the Glaze, as evenly as possible. Chill the torte in the refrigerator until cold and the Glaze is set, then cover tightly. Store up to one week; freeze for longer storage.

To serve:
Remove torte from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. To cut, use a large, sharp, heavy knife. Cut straight down through the torte; you'll have to run the knife blade under hot water, then dry it, quite frequently. Loosen the torte slices from the parchment paper or pan bottom with a thin-bladed spatula. If desired, serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a few fresh strawberries or raspberries.


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This page created March 2000