The first time I tasted this particular dessert I thought, “Have I ever truly enjoyed chocolate before?” It was at Iraila, a Mediterranean Rustica joint in Eugene, Oregon that served up the lightest, most airy, most delightful home-made, fresh-ingredient food, new desserts fresh made every day I’ve ever come across. Feast in Decatur, Georgia may come close. The rich, moist-spongy texture of a slice of this torte is like meeting its source for the first time. There is a marriage here of ingredients, so few and yet so profound, that should be studied and cultivated elsewhere in life. Here, I’ll show you what I mean…
*Choice of chocolate — I prefer a mix of bittersweet and dark chocolate. Normally I make the torte a la carte, meaning no fancy crusts or garnishments, and it always goes over well. Creme freche, raspberries (etal.), slivered almonds as a crust or garnish — all these things will enlighten and increase your enjoyment of the dessert. They’re not necessary, but why not indulge since the idea of indulging is about to explode?
*To double boil or nay — Most recipes I’ve referred to (lately I rely on Emeril’s for guidance, plus facts and figures from The Joy of Cooking) recommend using the double boil method when melding your butter and chocolate together. I have found that’s not entirely necessary, although it’s possible that there is a slight difference in overall melted texture between the two processes (with or without); double boiling may give you a slightly creamier consistency, but I haven’t noticed any large difference either way. And a double boiler irks me for some reason.
*How to mix without making scrambled torte — This is probably the most important step. It’s important that, when you eggs are doubled, and your chocolate/butter mixture is creamy and gooey, that you begin folding slowly but firmly, 1/3rd of the eggs at a time into your chocolate (which has been removed from the heat and sits under your stove hood’s fan, if possible), being sure with each addition to fold the eggs and chocolate together completely, so that you have the look of cake batter before folding in your next 1/3rd. Try to find a good balance for you and your wrists; folding too quickly will only produce more air bubbles, many of which you may not be able to completely dissipate.
*Pesky air bubbles and water bath — Speaking of which, once you’ve poured your mixture into your parchment papered, side-greased spring-form pan, gently sway from side to side to encourage evenness all around. See any of those pesky air bubbles? Begin gently tapping around the side pan, with you hands or a spatula. This may take some time, and you may not be able to get every single one of them. Don’t worry. With each creation of this torte, those air bubbles will learn to simply not resist your gentle ministrations. Once you’ve tapped as much as is reasonably possible, wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in aluminum foil, preferably the widest foil you can find and place it in a bigger pan. I recommend at least doubling up on the wrapping, because this is going to keep that water bath from soaking your torte. Fold and cinch the foil all around the way about to the middle of the pan or higher, checking to be sure the bottom edge is secure and there’s no way for water to get through to the springform pan. Fill to about a 1/3rd of the way up your springform pan with warm/hot water. Careful not to overfill, or it may find its way into any crevices in the foil!
*Chill and enjoy! — Once it’s out of the oven, let the torte chill to room temperature, again making use of a stove hood fan if available. This will take at least a couple of hours. Afterward, remove spring form pan, and using a pie server, gently slide it beneath parchment paper and transfer to plate or cake stand. You may need an extra pair of hands for this part. We don’t want that torte falling to pieces just yet! Once you feel it’s at room temperature, place in refrigerator, preferably overnight before serving. Garnish or enjoy alone, it’s a special treat that goes perfectly with coffee or a dry wine.
Flourless Chocolate Torte by Emeril Lagasse
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, plus 1/2 tablespoon
- 1 pound semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup amaretto
- 8 large eggs
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder, for garnish
- Fresh raspberries, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Using 1/2 tablespoon butter grease a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with a parchment round. Cover pan underneath and along sides with foil and set in a roasting pan. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil.
Combine the chocolate, butter, and amaretto in a metal bowl set over simmering water or in the top of a double boiler. Melt the mixture, stirring constantly, until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes; reserve.
Meanwhile combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until frothy and almost doubled in volume, about 5 to 10 minutes. Fold 1/3 of egg mixture into chocolate mixture using a rubber spatula. Repeat this process 2 more times – until all of egg mixture has been folded into chocolate mixture.
Pour batter into prepared springform pan and place in the roasting pan. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come about halfway up the sides. Bake until cake has risen slightly and edges are just beginning to set, about 40 to 45 minutes. Remove cake from roasting pan and cool on wire rack to room temperature. Remove foil, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Remove cake from refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving. Remove springform pan sides, invert cake onto a large plate, and peel away the parchment paper from bottom. Reinvert cake on another large plate or serving platter and garnish with confectioners’ sugar or cocoa powder immediately before serving.
NOTE: As you can see from the above pictures, this time I opted to try an almond crust with this torte. Combine 1/2 stick unsalted butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and ~1 cup almonds you’ve processed to a nice chunky consistency. Spread over parchment paper in bottom of spring form pan as you would for a cheesecake, etc. and then fill with torte mixture. Increase baking time by 5-10 minutes, if needed, keeping an eye on torte for cracking and pulling away from pan edges.