What’s the difference between a chocolate torte and a chocolate cake? Most American style cakes use baking powder and/or baking soda to make them rise, while European tortes are made with whipped egg whites to give them a bit of lift. Also, tortes are usually denser than cakes and have little or no flour in the ingredients.

I consider this more of a chocolate torte than a chocolate cake as it has no flour and while it rises up during the baking process, the end result is a moist, dense dessert that can be dressed a number of ways depending on the occasion and personal preferences.

flourless-chocolate-cake-and-pears-web

It can be flavored with cinnamon, as I did here, or coffee to give it a mocha flavor, topped with light Swiss meringue or lightly sweetened whipped cream, berries, or simply dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

Chocolate cake

This time I finished it with a gorgeous Swiss meringue, wine poached pears and some candied tangerine peel.

Flourless Chocolate Torte
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Continental
Author:
Ingredients
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan (use coconut butter for dairy-free)
  • 9 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon or ½ teaspoon instant coffee grounds that have been crushed into a powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with the rack in the center.
  2. Heavily butter the bottom and sides of a 8 or 9-inch springform pan (I used an 8in here for more height).
  3. Place a round of parchment on the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  4. Put the butter and chocolate in a heat proof bowl and set over a pot of water that is just at the simmering point, stirring until completely melted.
  5. Let cool until just warm and then mix in the egg yolks, vanilla and coffee or cinnamon..
  6. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form.
  7. Mix the sugar and salt together.
  8. Add the sugar and salt mixture to the egg whites one tablespoon at a time while beating until you have stiff peaks. Pick up a pinch of the meringue with a finger and rub between two fingers to see if the sugar is dissolved - it should feel smooth with little or no grit.
  9. Mix one large spoonful of the egg whites into the chocolate to lighten it up. Then gently fold the rest of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture until combined.
  10. Pour batter into the spring form pan and place that pan on top of a sheet pan (in the event that there is any overflow as it is baking).
  11. Bake for 40–45 minutes until the edges look dry and begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and the center feels set to the touch (do not open the oven as the torte is baking or you'll risk it collapsing). The cake should puff up and the top will be cracked and crisp.
  12. Place the cake, still in the tin, onto a wire rack to cool. The cake will fall as it cools. If the edges stick to the rim as it cools and deflates, gently push the edges in and down towards the cake.
  13. Once the cake has completely cooled, gently remove the springform ring and dress the cake as desired. If the side of the cake is sticking at all to the side of the ring, run a narrow and sharp knife around the edge before removing.
Notes
Baking flourless cakes that depend on egg-whites to give them loft can be tricky. Mostly the problems arise from varying egg sizes, air-pressure and weather (humid vs dry).
Always put a sheet pan underneath the springform pan before you bake it in case the egg-whites decide to expand more than expected (as they may in higher altitudes). If this happens, don't panic! Let the cake continue to bake the allotted time. As soon as you remove the pan from the oven, take a sharp knife and trim any excess overhang from the pan and then let the cake deflate as it is supposed to, and cool completely.

Because both the meringue and whipped cream can leak or "weep" liquid onto the cake, it is best to wait until as close to serving time to place either on top of the cake.

Chocolate-cake-and-pears-wb
Swiss Meringue
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Swiss
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Set a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  3. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl and whisk by hand while the mixture heats the eggs to about 160 degrees and the sugar dissolves.
  4. Remove the bowl with the eggs from the heat and place on the counter.
  5. Using and electric mixer, whisk the egg whites at a medium speed for 2-3 minutes until they are very foamy and then raise the speed to high.
  6. Beat the eggs for another 6-8 minutes until they become thick and glossy and hold their shape. Dollop the meringue onto the center of the torte and spread using a swirling motion.
  7. Place the cake into the center of the oven for 7-10 minutes until the meringue feels dry but springy to the touch and it is just beginning to brown along the peaks.
  8. Finish it off with a torch to brown the swirled edges.

Tangerine-wb
Candied Tangerine Peel
Recipe type: Dessert
Author:
Ingredients
  • Peel from 1 tangerine that has been cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon water
Instructions
  1. Place the sugar and water into a small saucepan over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Add the citrus peel and simmer until most of the water is gone.
  3. Transfer the peel to waxed paper and allow it to cool before using.

Chocolate cake w pears

Enjoy!

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