In honour of my recent Cannolo Award, I thought this post should be food related. What is a Cannolo Award? Read about it here. Although I love them, I will not be writing about cannoli, but rather about Torta Caprese.
Caprese (cah•PREH•seh) means ‘from Capri’ (CAP•ree) the beautiful island off the coast of Napoli. I suppose caprese could also mean ‘goatlike’ since capra is goat? We’ll stick with ‘from Capri’.
There are a few different stories about how Torta Caprese came to be. The most likely is that it was invented by mistake in the 1920’s or 30’s by a kitchen worker who added ground almonds (mandorle tritate) instead of flour while trying to make something similar to an Austrian Sachertorte for visitors at an Austrian owned pensione on Capri. It was a big hit, and went on to be served at all of the hotels and tea rooms on the island.
The basic recipe involves mixing melted butter and chocolate in a ‘bagno-maria’ with sugar and egg yolks, then adding whipped egg whites and ground almonds. Liqueur, usually Strega, is added. The cake has a hard thin shell and moist interior and the center tends to sink in a bit from the sides.
I recently tasted a yummy orange Torta Caprese, so I decided to try my own version. After a bit of experimentation, and substituting Gran Marnier for Strega, I ended up with a very nice Torta Caprese all’ Arancia. It is a 3 bowl recipe, so be prepared to wash lots of dishes!
Torta Caprese all’ Arancia
- 250g dark chocolate 70%
- 175g (¾ cup) butter at room temperature
- 110g (½ cup) sugar
- 110g (½ cup) brown or golden sugar
- grated peel of a large orange
- 3 tablespoons Gran Marnier, Mandarino, or other orange liqueur
- 6 eggs, separated
- 150g (1½ cups) ground blanched almonds (also called almond flour or almond meal)
- ½ a bustina (packet) Lievito Bertolini or Pane degli Angeli (substitute 2½ teaspoons baking powder if you can’t find these)
- pinch of salt
- Icing sugar for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F).
2. Butter the sides of a round springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
3. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler or ‘bagno-maria’ (a stainless steel bowl in a pan of hot water) and let cool. This can also be done with a glass bowl in the microwave but be careful-only heat in 30 second intervals and stir well.
4. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks and brown sugar, then add to the chocolate. Stir in alcohol and grated orange peel.
5. Whip egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Add the white sugar.
6. In another bowl, mix almond flour, lievito or baking powder and salt together with a fork. Fold the chocolate mixture in with a rubber spatula, then fold in egg whites.
7. Pour batter into pan and bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until center is firm. The center sink in a bit. Remove the sides of the pan and slide the cake onto a platter.
8. Dust with icing sugar and serve with orange slices and whipped cream or gelato. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days…if it lasts that long!
Buon Appetito! Mille grazie to my amiche Anna and Shannon who were very motivated to help me photograph the finished cake. I wouldn’t let them cut it and have a piece until the photos were done!
Downloadable recipe and recipe in italiano will be added as soon as I am home from Italia. Buon Appetito!