When I got home from the birthday party that my family threw for me on Saturday, I was surprised by my friends Lisa, Reena, and Kyle with this beautiful sight - a perfectly moist, fudgey cake that is intensely flavored with espresso, almond butter, rum, vanilla, and dark chocolate. Notice on the picture below that there is even a "25" traced out of the powdered sugar on the cake! My friend Lisa found this recipe from Lynne Rosetto Casper, one of our favorite NPR personalities, and adapted it a bit so I'd be able to eat it, turning my kitchen into a dedicated gluten-free and dairy-free space for the afternoon. What kind of awesome friends do I have? :) Needless to say, this cake is completely delicious, and in particular contrast to the previous post, is a totally different kind of chocolate cake. Rich, dark, and incredibly moist, this cake is more substantive, but equally satisfying. Who needs flour?? It just gets between you and the real flavor, in my opinion.
1/2 cup (2 ounces) blanched almonds, toasted 2-1/2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar 1/4 cup + 3 or 4 tbsp. cocoa (not Dutch process), divided 1-1/2 tablespoons + 8 tbsp. Soy Garden Buttery Spread, at room temperature 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (4 ounces) sugar 4-1/2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter or almond butter 4 large eggs, separated 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled 1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled 2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tablespoon boiling water 2 teaspoons dark rum 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Combine the almonds, the 2-1/2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar and the 1/4 cup cocoa in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process until the almonds are a fine powder.
"Butter" the bottom and sides of an 8-inch spring-form pan with the 1 tablespoon of Soy Garden Buttery Spread. Cut a circle of parchment paper to cover the bottom of the pan. "Butter" the paper with 1/2 tablespoon butter and line the pan with it, butter side up. Use 3 to 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder to coat the entire interior of the spring-form, shaking out any excess. Preheat the oven to 375 F, and set a rack in the center of the oven. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand-held electric mixer, beat the 8 tbsp. "butter" and sugar at medium speed 8 to 10 minutes, or until almost white and very fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times during beating. Beating the butter and sugar to absolute airiness ensures the torta's fine grain and melting lightness. Still at medium speed, beat in the peanut or almond butter (Lisa used almond butter). Then beat in the egg yolks, two at a time, until smooth. Reduce the speed to medium-low, and beat in the melted chocolates, the dissolved coffee, and the rum and vanilla. Then use a big spatula to fold in the almond powder by hand, keeping the batter light.
Whip the egg white to stiff peaks. Lighten the chocolate batter by folding a quarter of the whites into it. Then fold in the rest, keeping the mixture light but without leaving any streaks of white.
Turn the batter into the baking pan, gently smoothing the top. Bake 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven heat to 325 F and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few streaks of thick batter. The cake will have puffed about two thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Cool the cake 10 minutes in the pan set on a rack. The cake will settle slightly but will remain level. Spread a kitchen towel on a large plate, and turn the cake out onto it. Peel off the parchment paper and cool the cake completely. Then place a round cake plate on top of the cake and hold the two plates together as you flip them over so the torta is right side up on the cake plate.
Torta Barozzi is moist and fudgy. Just before serving, sift the tablespoon of cocoa over the cake. Then top it with a sifting of the confectioner's sugar. (Or for a whimsical decoration, cut a large stencil of the letter "B" out of stiff paper or cardboard. Set it in the center of the cake before dusting the entire top with the confectioner's sugar. Carefully lift off the stencil once the sugar has settled.) Serve the Barozzi at room temperature, slicing it in small wedges.
-You want natural unsweetened cocoa powder for this recipe, not Dutch process which has been treated to neutralize cocoa's acidity. One quality brand that is not Dutch process is Scharffen Berger Cocoa Powder.
-Quality bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates include Valrhona, Lindt, El Rey, Scharffen Berger, Guittard, Isis, and Theo.
-A good online source for a vast array of chocolates for baking is www.chocosphere.com.
-Medaglia d'Oro instant coffee granules are good to have on hand if you bake a lot with chocolate. It's packaged in a small glass jar and found in well-stocked supermarkets and specialty stores. A bit of strong coffee blended into chocolate cake and cookies batters is a trick that enhances the chocolate flavor.
-Peanut butter is the surprise ingredient in this cake, and an important one. I use creamy Skippy, but no doubt other brands work well too. If an allergy to peanuts is an issue, substitute almond butter.
-Use dark rum for its rich flavor. Myers's Original Dark Rum is one to try.
-While it's not served this way in Vignola, the cake is superb topped with dollops of unsweetened whipped cream. Odd as it sounds, it lightens the intensity of rich desserts like the Barozzi.