Sometimes when the urge to get into my kitchen and make something strikes, I find myself so overwhelmed by the insane number of recipes on my "to-bake" list that I simply don't make anything. My indecisiveness paralyzes me. Do I want something with chocolate or pumpkin? Cupcakes or cookies? A loaf of bread or a layer cake? Fortunately, at times like these, there's a decent chance that I can find one of my baking buddies on Twitter who wants to bake and already has a recipe in mind. I'll happy tag along because joint baking adventures are fun and, well, because I get to put off making a decision for another day :)
My friend Nancy discovered this recipe for Italian chocolate-almond torte via Serious Eats. Nancy always finds unique recipes (for example, this and this) and they never disappoint, this one included. This torte is simple - it only calls for 6 ingredients (added bonus: one of the ingredients is egg whites and I always have egg whites in my freezer) - and it can be thrown together in no time. Yet, once baked, it looks sophisticated and elegant. The torte keeps well at room temperature for a few days so it can be made ahead of time, making it a perfect no-stress dessert for a dinner party in my opinion. I halved the recipe and baked it in two 4.5" springform pans (with a little batter left over for a small ramekin). I really enjoyed the torte! My only issue was with the texture. The recipe instructs not to completely pulverize the almonds and chocolate, but I think I would have preferred not having the small bits of chocolate and almond in each bite. It's definitely a matter of personal preference, though, as Nancy mentioned to me that her tasters enjoyed the bits. Next time I make this, I'll simply chop the chocolate and almonds even more finely in the food processor and the torte will be perfect!
Italian Chocolate-Almond Torte
1 cup (5 ounces) unblanched or blanched whole almonds
7 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 large egg whites (1 cup), at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
powdered sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease the sides of a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine the almonds, chocolate, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the salt in a food processor and pulse until the almonds and chocolate are very finely chopped but not completely pulverized. Set aside.
In the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer or using a hand-held mixer and a large bowl, beat the egg whites with cream of tarter until soft, moist peaks are formed when the beaters are lifted. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Add one-third of the nut mixture to the egg whites and fold in with a large rubber spatula until nearly incorporated. Fold in half of the remaining nut mixture, then fold in the remainder.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Bake until the torte has risen and is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, or with a little melted chocolate, 25 to 30 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan and invert the cake onto the rack. Remove the bottom of the pan and then the parchment liner. Turn the cake right side up and cool completely. Cover or wrap tightly, and store for up to 3 days at room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar or cocoa before serving, if desired.