Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi share this delicious chocolate and almond cake recipe from their book, The Amalfi Coast: A Collection of Italian Recipes…
One of our most romantic evenings was in a restaurant overlooking the sea just outside Positano on the Amalfi coast. A couple of months before my engagement ring had broken and unbeknown to me Giancarlo had got it reset and polished and had brought it with him on our travels. He had very sneakily given it to the waiter and when a silver salver was presented to me as a “special appetiser from the chef” I had no idea what lay underneath! The lid was lifted and there was my ring in a plush velvet box, lovingly restored and dazzling once more.
We enjoyed a superb dinner which culminated in the regional speciality of Torta Caprese, a gooey, nutty chocolate heaven of a cake from the nearby island of Capri. While writing our cookbook on Amalfi we worked local chefs and Italian mammas to perfect the recipe. The trick is to use whole peeled almonds, to roast them to a rich golden brown and grind them yourself in a food processor. This not only gives an incredible, intense flavour but offers an artisan finish and crunch.
Makes one 22cm cake
- 200g whole skinned almonds
- 200g dark chocolate, 70% minimum cocoa solids, broken into squares
- 200g butter
- 4 eggs, separated
- 200g caster sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Grease a loose-bottomed 23cm diameter cake tin. Pour the almonds onto a baking sheet and bake for ten minutes or until golden brown. Chop the nuts finely with a large knife or use a food processor but stop before they become sand. Varying sizes from small gravel to those the size of demerara sugar are ideal.
2 Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water or in a microwave, taking care not to burn the chocolate. Remove from the heat and allow to cool a little. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.
3 Add the melted chocolate and butter to the egg yolks and combine thoroughly. Mix in the ground almonds. Fold in the egg whites using either a whisk or a spatula until well combined then pour into the prepared cake tin. Transfer to the oven and cook for 35 – 40 minutes. The cake is cooked when it forms a crust on the outside. Don’t expect an inserted skewer to come out clean because the centre always remains moist. To decorate the top scatter over some icing sugar through a fine sieve over a paper stencil or doily, remove carefully. Serve the Torta Caprese at room temperature.
Crema di Amaretto (Amaretto cream)
This is our addition to the traditional cake, a smooth cream that enhances the almond flavour of the cake.
100ml double cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2–3 tablespoons Amaretto
1 Mix all the ingredients together in a medium bowl, using a hand whisk.
2 Adjust the amount of liqueur and sugar to taste and chill until serving.
Recipe from The Amalfi Coast: A Collection of Italian Recipes by Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi. For more, check out their website.