Friday, October 7, 2011

Chocolate almond torte. For Laura

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned being upset because of sad news from close friends who live on the other side of the world and of the equator. They used to live right next door, our children grew up together, we learned to be parents together. Today the news was confirmed and it is was much worse than I ever imagined. I can't believe they are so far, that I cannot be with them, embrace them, bring them some comfort.

Today Laura was born. This is my birthday cake to her, because this will be her only birthday and I want to celebrate it. To celebrate her life, her fleeting presence in this world. She spread love to those surrounding her without even meeting them. She is love.

Happy birthday baby Laura.

Recipe from the Joy of Baking.

1 cup (100gr) finely ground almonds
4 large eggs
7oz. (200gr.) bittersweet chocolate (I used over 70%), chopped
11 tbsp (150gr.) butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (150gr.) sugar, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
a handful of almond slivers

If you are grinding your own almonds, preheat oven to 350° F (177° C) and place the blanched almonds on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool completely and then process until finely ground. Increase the oven temperature to 375° F (190° C) and line an 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan with parchment paper.

Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another. Make sure they are at room temperature. Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave. Then add  1/2 cup (100gr) of white sugar to the egg yolks and beat together until pale and thick. Beat in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla extract. Fold in the ground almonds. My batter was very dry and I worried I had made a mistake but it loosened up considerably when I folded in the egg whites.

Place the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup (50gr) sugar and whisk until stiff peak forms. Fold about 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it. Then quickly fold in the rest of the whites and mix only until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. The cake rises during baking but falls during cooling, leaving some cracks in the crust. Decorate with powdered sugar or almond slivers.


  1. Non conosco i tuoi amici ma so perfettamente cosa stanno provando in questo momento e per questo a loro va un forte abbraccio da parte mia.

    Un saluto al piccolo angelo che raggiunge i miei piccoli angeli.

    Con affetto,

  2. I'm so sorry, what a terribly hard thing to deal with. No one should have to go through that and I'm truly sorry for your friends.

  3. I'm so sorry for your friends' trauma.. But I think this cake is a great way to celebrate a birthday and a life, no matter what.

  4. It's so hard when people are so far away...all you want to do is be close to them but sometimes it's not possible. But it seems like through this recipe you can reach out to them, celebrate life and love, and set just a tiny bit of the world to rights. What a simple and touching post.

  5. Sorry to hear of your friend's passing. It reminds us how temporary life is on this planet and to make the most of the time we are given; making a cake, for instance, is a good way to celebrate life, this one reminds me of the Reine de Saba cake my aunt was famous for.

  6. It is hard living far away. We were in Hawaii which was an 8 hour flight to family/friends. Now we are closer but still an 8 hour drive. I love making new friends but it's hard not being close to the old ones! The cake looks yummy!

  7. Barbs - questi angeli toccano i nostri cuori anche se stanno con noi per poco.
    Nicole, Giulietta, ToB - that is life, with its great ups and terrible downs. It is never fair...
    LL, Melanie - it is hard to help people you care about when you are far away. We do whatever we can to let them know that we love them


Leave a suggestion, opinion or your own experience. I love hearing from you.