All over the Isle of Capri and along the Amalfi coast, I kept seeing these deep dark chocolate cakes. More tempting than any siren, they called my name whenever I'd peep into pastry windows. Being the devout chocoholic that I am, I had to have a sample, or two. Like so many of the desserts of the Campania region, these are topped with a dusting of powdered sugar, just enough to brand my shirt or lap; the white insignia branding me a pastry lover.
Doing some research into the making of this cake and its history, I found that there are three different stories about how the Torta Caprese was invented. Two common threads of all the stories are that it was invented on the Isle of Capri, and the cake was an accident. A women making the cake for American gangsters forgot to add flour, or a sous pastry chef working on no sleep mistook flour for cocoa powder. The last of the legends has a baker completely messing up the recipe and adding the almonds instead of flour. Whatever mistake was made to create it, we should all be glad it happened. Almond flavor blends with the chocolate. It's dense, decadent and delicious.
Restaurants serve it with a scoop of vanilla gelato, pastry shops serve it in a variety of ways. The richest way I found was with a layer of ganache on top, then a sprinkling of the requisite powdered sugar. Of my 15 favorite foods in Napoli (The plan is to recreate each one and share here on the blog.), this is one is by far the easiest to make, and it's also gluten-free. I hope you make it and let me know what you think.
(makes one 9-inch cake)
9 ounces (255 g) good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup (225 g) butter
¼ cup (25 g) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 ¼ cup (250 g) granulated sugar
1 ½ cups finely ground blanched and toasted almonds
6 eggs, room temperature
Preheat an oven to 310°F and line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper.
Slowly melt the chocolate and butter over a double-boiler. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk together the melted chocolate mixture, the cocoa powder, almond extract and sugar until combined. Add the ground almonds and whisk until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, adding each egg after the first has been incorporated into the mixture. Pour the mixture into the spring form pan. Make sure the mixture is level and smooth on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool and serve with chocolate spirals or shavings and powdered sugar. Serve with gelato or whipped cream. Buon Appetito!