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Chocolate-Piñon Torte


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Chocolate-Piñon Torte

Feast Of Santa Fe: Cooking Of The American Southwest
Feast Of Santa Fe:
Cooking Of The American Southwest

by Huntley Dent, 1985/1993, Simon & Schuster

“The recent vogue for flourless chocolate cakes was very welcome to me, for these low-slung, intensely chocolate-tasting desserts are much less finicky to prepare than the old layer cakes. The recipe given here is a small torte flavored with pine nuts,
and it calls for but a modicum of flour to add body. It is perfectly possible to omit both nuts and flour, in which case the torte will puff like a soufflé in the oven and collapse as it cools. Such a ‘failed’ soufflé is even moister and more chocolate-concentrated than the torte version.
Either batter will stick tenaciously to the pan, even a buttered and floured one, so
do not neglect the step that calls for lining with foil. This cake is an invention, by the way – no indigenous New Mexico cookbook includes any chocolate cake as far
as I have been able to find.”

For 4 to 6 people:

3 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
Grated rind [zest] of 1 orange (reserving a generous pinch for garnish)
3 tablespoons piñons (pine nuts); if not available, substitute blanched almonds
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons flour
4 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons orange liqueur (Cointreau, Triple Sec or Grand Marnier,
for example)
1/4 teaspoon salt (if butter is not salted already

For garnish:
1/2 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons orange liqueur,
and the reserved pinch of orange peel [zest]

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. and grease an 8-inch round cake pan at least 2 1/2 inches deep. Cut a circle of aluminum foil [or baking parchment] to fit the bottom of the pan, place inside, and grease or butter the foil. For added precaution against sticking, you can also lightly flour the foil lining.
Place the chocolate, butter and orange rind [zest] in a small skillet or saucepan with a cover over simmering water, or in a double boiler. Remove from the heat and stir thoroughly after the chocolate and butter have just melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
Grind the piñons, 2 tablespoons sugar and the flour together in the food processor until they reach the consistency of a fine meal, stopping the machine at least once to scrape down the bowl with a spatula. Do not overprocess or the nuts will turn into an oily paste.
Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons sugar in a deep mixing bowl for a full 5 minutes at highest speed. The mixture should more than double in volume and reach a consistency of half-whipped cream. Briefly beat in the orange liqueur. Clean the beaters thoroughly. Beat the egg whites with the optional salt until soft peaks form, then beat in the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until just incorporated.
Stir the piñon flour mixture into the lukewarm melted chocolate and butter. Working deftly, fold this combined mixture thoroughly into the beaten egg yolks, using a broad rubber spatula. The chocolate will naturally sink to the bottom of the batter, so be sure to reach all the way down with your spatula, lifting the chocolate up and over the egg. Start folding in the egg whites,
added all at once, after about a minute. It will seem to take a long time to incorporate all the chocolate so that the batter has no light streaks remaining
in it, but if you work quickly and have beaten the eggs sufficiently, your
cake will be light.
Gently transfer the batter to the cake pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The cake may take another 5 minutes or so to finish baking, but it is done when the middle of the layer has risen and all but the very center is firm and spongy – a little jiggling in the middle is quite acceptable, particularly if you like tortes that are moist. Cool in the pan for
10 minutes, run a knife around the edge, and turn out onto a serving plate. Carefully peel away the foil [or parchment] after the layer is cooled to
barely warm.

Note: Baked as directed, the torte will have a bit of a rind around the edges [just the way we like it]. For a cake that is moist throughout, cook in a water bath as follows: Have ready an ovenproof skillet or baking pan that is 1 inch or more wider than the cake pan. Before greasing the cake pan, set it in the larger pan and pour in enough water to come halfway up. Remove the cake pan and proceed to make the batter as directed. As you near the end, bring the water bath to a boil. Set it in the preheated 350-degree F oven and set the batter-filled cake pan inside. Increase baking time to 40 to 45 minutes and lower the heat if you heat actual boiling – the water should just simmer. The cake is done when it tests firm to the touch throughout.

Serving the torte: The cake is delicious served plain, either warm or at room temperature. To garnish with whipped cream, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form, then add the sugar, liqueur and reserved orange peel [zest], and continue beating until stiff. Present the cream alongside the warm cake. If you wish to ice the cake with it, make sure the cake is thoroughly cold – chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour before icing. Chilling makes the torte cool enough to be covered with the whipped cream, but it somewhat impairs the flavor and texture of the cake itself. [In other words, why not just serve the whipped cream on the side!]

Featured Archive Recipes:
Elizabeth David's Flourless Chocolate Cake
Toasted Almond and Chocolate Torte

La Pigna's Chocolate-Almond Torte

Arizona Princess Cake

Index - Chocolate Recipe Archives
Index - Cake Recipe Archives

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