❤ Torta Caprese
Had you noticed the serious lack of chocolate in my recipes so far? I’ve been trying to hold off until April - a bit closer to Easter. But I can't wait any longer. I’m a serious chocoholic who doesn't enjoy cooking with chocolate in the Summer heat. I think the humidity really spoils the fun. Like making preserves in February - it's tough work. Luckily winter citrus is so good.
In light of the fact there’s only one more day before it’s officially Autumn - I give you the first of three adorable chocolate cakes I love to bake - Torta Caprese. None of the three need ganache or fancy icing. I’ll share the other recipes with you when the temperature drops. Hopefully by then you’ll be enjoying simple Winter luxuries like our beautiful countryside, a peppery shiraz, the odd crackling fire and the company of good friends.
250 grams (9 oz) unsalted Butter
250 grams (9 oz) White Sugar (not caster)
250 grams (9 oz) good-quality dark Chocolate, chopped roughly (50-70% cocoa solids)
400 grams (14 oz) blanched Almonds, chopped roughly
6 eggs free-range, separated
60 ml (2 fl oz) Limoncello citrus liquer
plenty of icing sugar for dusting
Method + Tips
Buy a large packet of blanched almonds or purchase natural insecticide free Australian almonds in bulk from your health food shop. Blanch almonds by pouring boiling water over them twice, draining and pushing the skins off with your fingertips. Dry well and toast them lightly for just 5 minutes in the oven at 180°C (350°F). Chop coarsely by hand or in a food processor. Excess almonds keep well in the freezer.
Use the best quality dark chocolate your budget allows. I’ve used Nestle Club here because I enjoy it and it’s only $2 for a big block on special. Rule of thumb - if it’s chocolate you enjoy eating and has a relatively high cocoa solid content, then it will be perfect for your baking. Chop chocolate coarsely by hand or grate for this recipe.
If you prefer the cake to have a smoother, more brownie like, Sacher Torte texture then just process the almonds until fine almond meal. The chocolate can be grated instead of chopped to make the texture finer too.
Preheat oven to moderate 180°C (350°F). Grease and line a large round springform tin with baking paper.
Melt butter gently over a saucepan of boiling water. Allow to cool a little. Beat egg yolks, sugar and limoncello together until creamy. Beat the egg whites in a perfectly clean, dry stainless steel bowl until soft peaks occur.
Fold egg whites and butter gently into the egg yolk mixture with a metal tablespoon to combine well. Sprinkle chopped almonds and chocolate over the top, folding gently through to combine all ingredients.
Pour mixture into your prepared cake tin and bake for 1 hour. Allow cake to cool slightly in the tin on a wire rack before dusting heavily with icing sugar. Allow to finish cooling in the tin.
Enjoy with crème fraîche, single cream or on its own.
Don't you love European style cakes? They are so irresistible for their texture and flavour. The simple fact that many contain only a little or no flour (perfect for coeliacs) really elevates the flavours. Taste buds delight in bursts of chocolate, almonds, hazelnuts, citrus and the lightness of six eggs - often with whites whisked and combined separately to the yolks.
This style of cake should always be baked in a large springform tin. It’s too delicate and light to be turned out onto a cooling rack.
Torta Caprese, as the name suggests conjures up the sights and sounds of the island of Capri in Southern Italy. The rowboat men singing and squeezing their boatload into the tiny opening of the famous Blue Grotto. Feet trekking down to the gorgeous rock formations of the Faraglioni. Panoramic vistas right back to Naples from the glorious gardens of Villa San Michele, atop Anacapri. Divine leather sandals made in a minute and hand painted ceramic house tiles to take home. This one below is a treasured family souvenir.
A version of this classic Capri cake can be found in so many Italian restaurants around the world. My recipe includes the addition of Limoncello, the southern Italian citrus liqueur made from pure grain alcohol or vodka, sugar and thick skinned lemons.
The Italian lemons are superb however our Australian citrus and sunshine are equally as good. Purchase Australian limoncello if you can - some brands have been winning international liqueur competitions against the Italians and other rivals. If ever in doubt just check out http://www.australianmade.com.au/consumer-site/ to see if you can buy an Australian made ingredient over an import.
You can make your own Limoncello and it’s not particularly difficult. You just need lots of patience to wait four weeks while the lemon rind seeps through the alcohol! Any thick skinned lemon will work well - try the Meyer variety for its beaut skin and lower acidity and bitterness. Any shortcuts in the process of making Limoncello result in a bitter and very strong liqueur.
Limoncello is most popular as an aperitivo, served ice cold from the freezer after a good meal. It should be airy and perfectly balanced. I’ve reluctantly offended Italian hosts over the years as I rarely enjoy more than three swigs. It’s so potent!
Don’t tell your Italian friends - but try a 30ml shot in a frozen glass, with lots of ice, Ginger ale and a good squeeze of lime juice. Let me know what you think?
To cook with Limoncello is a dream; syrups for cakes, dessert meringues, lemon cheesecakes, gelato and granita. The limoncello gelato in white chocolate casing from Delizia in Brisbane is out of this world.
We’re off to celebrate the arrival of Autumn - picking apples with the girls at the Annual Apple & Grape Harvest Festival. Too hot for growing apples here at Weka Weka. Stanthorpe should be a nice cool change and provide lots of fresh foodie inspiration and photo opportunities. Talk soon x