Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen - Torta alla Caprese

As I bake more often, I find myself growing a little better at covering up my little accidents.

For example, could you tell this cake exploded in the oven?

Actually, it didn’t explode: it erupted. Originally, this flourless chocolate cake is called a Torta alla Caprese, popularized in Quebec by the fabulous Josée di Stasio – but after this ordeal, we have renamed it Mount Vesuvius (you know, the volcano).

Laurent and I have often made this cake together. It’s often our go-to recipe when we need to bring dessert for a potluck. It’s both fluffy and rich, always moist, it keeps like a dream, and contains enough dark chocolate and caffeine to keep you jittery all night long. If I had to take one chocolate recipe with me on a desert island, this might just be it.

The Torta alla Caprese is also very simple to make. It has never let us down before, so I’m really quite confused about what happened this time. As the cake baked, the batter rose so much that it completely overflowed from the mould and covered it entirely. Laurent has been known to be a little heavy-handed with the baking powder, but this was ridiculous.

Well, a major trim with a small knife was enough to make the cake look just about normal again (and we got to eat all the leftover trimmings, tee hee). The people at the potluck never knew they were eating a wannabe-volcano.

Sorry for the poor quality of the picture, but we were in a hurry. I also wish I had a picture of a slice, so I could show you the cake’s wonderful texture. But it never made it back from the potluck, so you’ll just have to trust me: this torta is a pure delight. Go make it. Now.

The recipe is available here in French, but here’s a loose translation:

Torta alla Caprese
From Josée di Stasio’s Pasta et Cetera

Serves 8 to 10

200g (7 0z) dark chocolate, chopped
200g / 250ml (7 oz / 1 cup) butter
60ml (1/4 cup) espresso
280g / 500ml (9.5 oz / 2 cups) almond meal
1 tbsp baking powder
190g / 250ml sugar
5 large eggs
Cocoa or icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 180 ºC (350 ºF). Butter and flour a 25cm (10 inch) pie mould with a removable bottom.

In a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from heat, add the espresso and let cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal and the baking powder. Reserve.

In a large bowl, with an electric beater, whisk the whole eggs with the sugar until primrose in colour, about 5 minutes. Incorporate the almond mixture. Then incorporate the chocolate mixture.

Pour mixture into the prepared mould. Bake about 40 minutes, until the cake is firm to the touch. It will solidify further as it cools, so don’t worry if the center still looks a tad soft. Let cool in mould for at least 4 hours.

Dust with icing sugar or cocoa before serving.


  1. MMMMMMM,...your torta looks fabulous, doesn't it?

    I would like to savour at least 1 big slice, please,...

  2. Exploding or not, this looks delicious! And gluten free? Awesome! Sounds prefect to me =D.

  3. Tu me fais bien rire ce matin... C'est vrai qu'il est délicieux ce dessert, mais à partir de maintenant je vais toujours avoir peur qu'il se transforme en volcan:)) Félicitations, ton camouflage est parfait, on ne peut pas du tout se douter de ta mésaventure...
    Bon week-end!