My husband celebrated his birthday this past weekend. In keeping with tradition, we spent it quietly–no party, no other people; we didn’t even spend the day at the beach, his usual preference. Instead, we spent most of the day at home, enjoyed being free from obligations and allowed me time to make a little something for the special occasion…even if he would have preferred not to celebrate being one year older.
After 12 years together I knew that something simple would be in order. My husband doesn’t care much for elaborately prepared meals or fancy desserts so I prepared one of his favorites, Salt-Baked Fish and a dessert combining two of his go-to treats: chocolate and almonds.
I will admit that as I prepared this torte I wondered whether I really was making this for my husband or for myself. It’s been so long since I baked with chocolate and I love almonds just as much as he does. I couldn’t wait for this to come out of the oven, especially with the expectation of dressing it up with a simple chocolate whipped cream frosting. There’s virtually no flour here (a characteristic of tortes) but there is an abundance of dark chocolate both in the torte and the frosting. Looking at the sliced piece it’s almost hard to tell where the torte ends and the frosting begins. It hardly matters–each bite practically melts in your mouth with the occasional crunch from the pulverized almonds.
My husband couldn’t stay away from this torte and ignored my suggestions to enjoy it in moderation. With almost 14 ounces of 72% chocolate in the recipe one thin slice is plenty, at least for me. But he insisted on full cake-sized wedges for his birthday dessert, breakfast the next day, afternoon tea and after dinner again. I finally had to rescue the poor guy and took the remaining half to the office (but not before he smuggled another slice when I wasn’t looking). The torte was much-loved there, too.
- 1½ cups roasted almonds
- ⅔ cup superfine sugar
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 5½ ounces chocolate (I used 72% but you can use semisweet if you prefer)
- ¾ cup butter
- 5 eggs yolks
- 5 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- **For the Frosting**
- 8 ounces chocolate
- 1 cup heavy cream
- scant 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- To prepare the torte: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan, dusting off the excess. Process the roasted almonds, almond extract and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a food processor until the nuts are completely pulverized. Transfer to a bowl and toss with the flour.
- Melt the chocolate on top of a double boiler over hot water, stirring constantly. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and set aside.
- Using a hand mixer, cream the butter at medium speed until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining sugar and vanilla extract and continue creaming until the mixture is very light. Add the egg yolks one at a time, making sure each one is completely incorporated into the mixture before adding the next one. Add the melted chocolate and stir well to combine. Stir in the almond mixture and again, combine well.
- In another bowl beat the egg whites with the hand mixer until stiff, then fold them into the batter with a rubber spatula until combined.
- Bake for about 40 minutes (25 min if using convection) or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the torte on a wire rack, removing the springform rim after a few minutes. Let cool completely before adding the frosting.
- To prepare the frosting: Melt the remaining 8 ounces chocolate in a double boiler and set aside to cool to lukewarm. Beat the heavy cream in a bowl with a hand mixer until it’s stiff, adding the scant teaspoon of superfine sugar after a minute of mixing. Start the mixer at lower speed, increasing as you go. The cream will get quite stiff after just 3-4 minutes and you want to stop just as the texture resembles that of soft butter. You can stop sooner than this but I found that the frosting held up better this way. Fold the lukewarm chocolate into the whipped cream and spread on top of the torte. You can serve immediately but I found that this torte tasted even better chilled the next day.