Monday, October 7, 2013

Fudgey Chocolate Almond Torte

Don't let the simple look of this torte deceive you. It is a textural delight. Dense, fudgey* and moist. The perfect end to a meal. Simple yet satisfying. I hadn't made this in a long long time. And now I'm kicking myself. It's so good. And so simple to make. But don't let on. It has all the qualities of a gourmet dessert, just none of the hassle. You could totes whip this up next time you have company for dinner and everyone will be impressed. Let them. No one has to know how easy it was to make. Except you, because you're headed to the kitchen right now to make it. . .

(*OK, so. . .is it "fudgy" or "fudgey"?? Actually neither word is a word. A least not according to Merriam-Webster. Google it and they both seem to pop up equally. So I say, who cares! Toe-may-toe,? Ta-maw-toe?)

Here's whatcha need: butter, cocoa, sugar, ground blanched almonds*, flour, and eggs (at room temperature, yolks and whites separated).
*I used this Almond Meal which is just "ground blanched almonds" because I had it on hand. It's kind of expensive. You can just get blanched almonds and grind them up yourself. Be careful not to grind too much or you'll end up with Almond Butter.

Start by melting the butter, slowly, over low heat, in a medium sized saucepan.

Stir in the cocoa and 3/4 cup sugar and whisk until smooth.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool for at least 5 minutes.

Stir in the ground almonds and flour.

Then whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time. The mixture will oddly seem to get thicker with each egg yolk.

In a different bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. 

A tip about eggs: I take my eggs out of the fridge before I'm ready to start baking and let them sit on the counter, in the shell, for about 1/2 hour. Then I separate them. The whites seem to whip up much easier when the eggs are at room temperature. Also, if you add cold yolks to the chocolate mixture, the butter can seize and clump up. So, you'll get better results using eggs at room temperature.

Stream the last 1/4 cup sugar into the egg whites and beat until soft peaks form. When you lift the beaters out of the egg whites, the peaks will flop over but hold their shape. This is what is meant by "soft peaks".

Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Then gently fold in another 1/3 until incorporated and then the last 1/3. Use a gentle folding motion so you don't deflate the egg whites.

Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 325°F for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan (it will settle quite a bit) and then remove it to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Before glazing the cake, I like to level the edges. Use a serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion.

Then flip the cake over and clean up any crumbs.

To make the glaze, melt butter in a small pan over low heat. Add cocoa powder and water. Whisk constantly until the mixture starts to thicken. The water will absorb and then seem to weep out of the mixture. That's ok. Just don't boil the mixture.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and powdered sugar. Whisk vigorously until mixture is smooth.

Now work quickly. Then glaze with start to set up quick. Pour all the glaze into the center of the cake and spread out to the edges with an offset spatula. Allow the glaze to fall over the side of the cake and smooth the sides with a spatula. If you want your glaze to look shiny you have to work quickly and not mess with it too much. The more you "work it" with the spatula the more it will loose it's shine.

I kind of "over worked" the glaze so I decided to make a swirl pattern on the top. This isn't super necessary. If you worked quickly then a nice smooth shiny top also looks nice. At this point you could decorate any way you like.

This is dense, rich and fudgey with just a bit of nutty texture from the almonds. I totally recommend cutting small slices because it's rich. The 8-inch cake could easily feed 10-12. If I were to serve this to company, and I totes would, I'd put a puddle of raspberry or strawberry puree on the plate and top it with a dollop of whipped cream. Oh la la, tres gourmet.

Fudgey Chocolate Almond Torte
3/4 C. butter (1-1/2 sticks)
6 T. cocoa
1 C. sugar, divided
2/3 C. ground blanched almonds
2 T. flour
3 eggs, separated
2 T. water

Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease and flour an 8-inch round cake pan.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add cocoa and 3/4 cup sugar and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in almonds and flour, mixing until smooth. Beat in egg yolks, one at a time. Stir in water.
In another bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Slowly stream in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until soft peaks form.
Stir 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it up. Then gently fold in another 1/3, and then fold in the last 1/3, folding in until thoroughly blended.
Pour into prepared pan and bake 35-40 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the pan (the cake will settle quite a bit), then turn out onto a rack and cool completely. Once cooled, level the cake and cover with chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze
2 T. butter          2 T. cocoa
2 T. water          1/2 t. vanilla
1 C. powdered sugar

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Whisk in cocoa and water and stir over low heat until thickened. DO NOT BOIL. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. Immediately pour into center of torte and use and offset spatula to smooth top allowing excess to spill over the sides. Smooth sides and allow to cool. Work quickly if you want glaze to remain shiny.

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