It was a dark and stormy night.
I know, I just want to say it once to get it out of the system – granted it was dark and stormy.
My original plan was to make this apricot walnut bread. But last minute I found out that I didn’t have any oranges left. So I made this cake instead. Torta Caprese is a traditional Italian chocolate and almond cake named after the island of Capri. Substitute almond with hazelnut you have Torta Caprese alle Niccole, which is essentially a flourless chocolate hazelnut cake.
This recipe is adopted from The Domestic Goddess Wannabe with a few variations.
Torta Caprese Alle Niccole (Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake)
- 150g dark chocolate
- 150g unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup (35g) cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup (80ml) hot water
- 1 cups sifted brown sugar
- 1 cup (100g) chopped hazelnuts
- 4 eggs, separated
- powder sugar for decoration
- Melt chocolate and butter in a water bath.
- Combine hot water and cocoa powder until all the cocoa powder has dissolved.
- Mix together melted chocolate and butter, cocoa and water mixture, chopped hazelnut and sugar, until well blended.
- Add egg yolks one at a time until the yolks are incorporated. Set aside.
- In a clean mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Transfer 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the chocolate batter. Mix this in.
- Gently fold the remaining egg whites into the chocolate batter in 2 batches, until no white streaks remain.
- Pour the batter into a lined and greased 9-inch Springform pan.
- Knock the pan on a hard surface to remove air pockets.
- Bake in a 180°C (355°F) oven for 40 minutes.
- Cool the cake completely on a wire rack before removing it from the pan.
While waiting for the cake. I picked up this book I was reading – Life With Picasso by Françoise Gilot, which had an interesting anecdote about Picasso and Chagall.
I became interested in Pablo Picasso after visiting Picasso: The Artist and His Muses exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery couple of months back. Françoise Gilot was one of his muses and among the few who didn’t end up killing herself.
I have certain luck with Marc Chagall, in that twice I was in the French Rivera I missed the opportunities to visit his museum. I was determined to make amends at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art last month, except that monsieur Chagall’s work was nowhere to be found. As my luck would have it, I did, surprisingly, come across this beautiful courtyard of mosaic tiles by Marc Chagall at Fondation Pierre Gianadda in the small town of Martigny, on my way to Chamonix-Mont Blanc. His use of color is extraordinary.
In any rate, the story goes like this: Picasso and Chagall used to be friends. But with Picasso being Picasso, and Chagall being Chagall, it didn’t last a lifetime. Even so, Picasso continued to have high regards for Chagall as a painter and made the following remark:“When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what color really is…his canvases are really painted, not just thrown together. Some of the last things he’s done in Vence convinced me that there’s never been anybody since Renoir who has the feeling for light that Chagall has.”
In response, Chagall said:“What a genius, that Picasso. It’s a pity he doesn’t paint.”
Back to baking – the cake turned out super moist and super decadent. The storm never summed up to its forecasted strength. But I was happy to have stayed home and kept warm. Happy baking!