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All over the Isle of Capri and along the Amalfi coast, I kept seeing these deep dark chocolate cakes, called Torta Caprese. 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, and giving me the official sign of a sweet tooth.
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 in 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 got flustered and forgot to add flour, or a sous pastry chef working on no sleep mistook cocoa powder for flour. 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 perfectly with the chocolate. It’s dense, decadent, delicious and gluten free.
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 chocolate ganache on top, then a sprinkling of the requisite powdered sugar. Of my 15 favorite foods in Napoli, this is one is by far the easiest to make. I use two bowls, one to melt the chocolate and butter and another to mix all the ingredients, but this could easily be a one-bowl cake. It is my go-to dessert whenever I get a last-minute nvite and always when I know I have a fellow chocoholic to serve. Sometimes I add a simple dusting of powdered sugar, sometimes I top it with chocolate ganache, and when I really want to guild the lily, I add two sauces: the chocolate ganache and a salted butter caramel. I haven’t yet paired it, but I also know it would go well and be quite refreshing with a mint granita or raspberry sorbetto or granita. I hope you make it and let me know what you think.
Love Neapolitan food and this region? Join me and taste and cook the best pizza, pasta & pastries this region offers on an 8-day/7-night all-inclusive vacation to the Amalfi Coast! We’ll definitely be tasting and making this and other pastries from the region.
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(makes one 9-inch cake)
9 ounces (255 g) good quality dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup (225 g) butter
1/4 cup (25 g) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cup (250 g) granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups finely ground blanched and toasted almonds
6 medium-sized eggs, room temperature (If you use large eggs, use only 5 eggs in this recipe)
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 about 50 minutes. The cake will rise a bit and then fall back on itself once it cools. The baking time varies slightly depending on your oven, but the cake should be very moist in the center and dense once it cools. Cool before serving. Buon Appetito!