Tuesday, April 14, 2009

{TWD} 16 Minute Magic: Chocolate Almond Torte

If ever there were ever a week when a 15-minute TWD recipe would come in handy, this one would be it. I waited until yesterday - Monday - to bake this week's Tuesdays with Dorie assignment, which didn't seem too risky of a plan, seeing as I had the day fairly free, and this was billed as a quick cake. In fact the name of the recipe is 15 Minute Magic: Chocolate Amaretti Torte. But on Monday morning our electricity fell victim to some high winds, and I had no electrical power from 10:00am to around 4:30pm. Once the power was restored to our neighborhood I realized that if this cake were going to be made during daylight hours, I'd have to hustle.

I set my timer to clock whether I could indeed have the cake in the oven in 15 minutes. I didn't count the time it took me to measure the butter (mine comes in a 1 lb block), nor, of course, the time it took for the butter and eggs to come to room temp (speeded by the microwave and a bowl of warm water respectively), and for the melted chocolate to cool (aided by the fridge).

Everything else really was very quick, and the timer rang just as I was scraping the last of the cake batter off of the food processor blade. If I'd sprayed the pan instead of rubbing it with butter, the cake would have actually made it into the oven within the 15 minutes! Nice as that was, the real magic would have been if the dishes had cleaned themselves!!

n.o.e.'s notes:

- The TWD bakers had quite a lively discussion about the amaretti/amarettini cookies that are used in this recipe. They are not particularly easy to find, especially at a reasonable price. Back in January I was going to bake a recipe that called for these cookies as an ingredient. I searched several stores with no luck, and then finally located some. But, (and this makes me sound hopelessly clueless) not only can I not remember where I finally found the cookies, I can't remember which recipe I was going to make! Luckily I did remember where I'd put them... Anyway, my best guess is that they came from World Market. The are called Amaretti Cookie Snaps, and the brand is Lazzaroni (although the writing on the package looks like it spells "Larzaroni"). This is the brand that Dorie says she prefers. Just for comparison purposes I picked up a pack of amaretti cookies from my neighborhood Starbucks - these "Amaretti del Chiostro Autentici" claim to be the original almond cookie from the Cloister of Saronno, Italy. The two brands of cookie are similar in texture and ingredient list, although I will say that the Lazzaroni ones have a pronounced almond flavor (although neither almonds nor almond flavoring are on the list of ingredients).

Amaretti Autentici (bought from Starbucks) on the left
Lazzaroni Amaretti Cookie Snaps on the right
both: imported from Italy

A major ingredient in both is - surprisingly - apricot kernels! I would not hesitate to use either one, or a combination of the two, for this torte (this time I used the Lazzaroni). The key is to use 2.75 oz of the ground up cookie.

- I baked my torte for 26 min - it was, as Dorie describes it: dry, puffed up, and a bit cracked. When I tested for doneness, the knife deflated the cake and it ended up flat, and yes, very thin.


- And here's where I have a confession to make:
I knew that I wanted to freeze this cake, and that it would be easier to freeze without the ganache glaze on it. At the same time, I had a whole bowl of leftover ganache in the fridge from Sweet Melissa's Brooklyn Brownout Cake. Sooo, I cut a little slice of Dorie's torte, spooned a bit of Melissa's ganache on top of the slice, whipped up a bit of cream, and barely eked out a photo in the last light of the day. Then I tasted the cake slice and froze the rest unglazed.

- When I thaw this cake and serve it, I plan to make the glaze that is supposed to go with it - I promise! I really love Dorie's bittersweet-based ganache glazes (The one I used, Melissa's, is a semisweet-based ganache). I will come back to this post and update it with a full report on how the cake tastes with its intended finishing touches.

the verdict:

This is a slim and sophisticated European-type torte. I love the technique of using crushed cookies and almonds in place of flour in this torte, and I equally love that the whole thing can be made in a matter of, well, 16 minutes. As for the taste, the almond flavor really comes through, along with the slightly crunchy texture of the cookies and the nuts. There's plenty of chocolate richness, so a little piece packs a powerful flavor payoff.

If I had to choose just one slim chocolate cake/torte from Dorie's book I'd have to give the edge to the Chocolate Armagnac Cake (that I baked with Grand Marnier), but this almond torte is also a keeper. Its lovely elegance is impressive and its chocolate + almond flavor is memorable. The 16 minute preparation time is a bonus, and if the dishes did magically wash themselves, it would be the clear winner! (I actually typed that "the clean winner"!! Guess who still has a sinkful of dirty dishes from this cake?)

Thanks to Holly of Phe/MOM/enon- for choosing this week's delicious cake. If you'd like to bake this yourself, the recipe is on pages 276-277 of Dorie Greenspan's book Baking From My Home to Yours, or you can check out Holly's post where you will find the recipe online.

42 comments:

Jules Someone said...

That looks just amazing! I used the cookies from Cost Plus. They were just fine to me. Glad you're back to eating sweets!

Steph said...

I love the frosting on top! It looks delicious! I've never made a cake in the fp before. Too bad I skipped this week.

Cristine said...

Your torte looks lovely! I was surprised to see apricot kernals as an ingredient, too! :)

Cathy said...

Ha - I set a timer too! Dorie should know that she can't boldly say that this is a 15 minute recipe without all of the Type A TWDers timing it to make darn sure. And I also found my cookies (same one that you have) at World Market - ever since I found fleur de sel there, I check them first or second for these hard-to-find ingredients. I preferred the armagnac cake as well, but I liked this one as well. Your torte looks absolutely perfect. Your picture are gorgeous - the torte looks stunning against the white background. Glad you enjoyed this!

Megan said...

Ah, Lent is over and you are back into eating your creations! Love it!

mike said...

You're so scientific, 16 minutes.... :)
This WAS fast - and definitely a keeper recipe for tortes. I'll have to try Starbucks - I thought WM amaretti were great as is... glad you topped it too! Not that it was needed any more calories, but any chance to add more amaretto, I'm there! Thanks for the side by side comparison Nancy!

Marthe said...

Your torte looks gorgeous! Mine cracked and my cream curdled :( The torte still tasted fine though!

Jin Hooi said...

looks great !! well done

Jessica said...

Your cake looks gorgeous, Nancy! I think that it's great that you multi-tasked with the Sweet Melissa ganache. With all of the chocolate desserts floating around here lately, it's hard not to, right? I didn't use ganache on either of them, I just couldn't bring myself to start melting more chocolate.

myfamousrecipe said...

I wanted to time mine, too, but forgot to set the timer at the last minute. I'm glad you were the official time-keeper on this one. I wonder which took longer -- making the batter or cleaning the dishes? :-)

Audrey said...

Well, I think I need a slice from BOTH of your chocolate cakes, just to be SURE...but I really liked this one. I don't think you missed much with the glaze...at least with my glaze, which was too thin. I'm glad you enjoyed this...and that you got the power back in time.

Lady Baker said...

hey! I hope you had a wonderful Easter!

I froze mine and was going to leave off the glaze too..but threw it in the fridge overnight, then cut it in half and froze half (glaze and all). We'll see how it thaws!

The big trick definitely was finding the amaretti...I used to see that darn tin all over the place, now when I needed it, it vanishes...

Nice having you back commenting on posts -- you were missed! :)

Kayte said...

I used the cookies on the left...the ones from Saronna, Italy in the red tin, and they were really really tasty. I also had to do the eggs in warm water, butter in the microwave, chocolate in the frig to cool bit...LOL. Some days are just like that. Your torte looks amazing and I love the little crunchies on the topping! I completely forgot about doing that part. Next time....

Peggy said...

I love that you timed this! Only you Nancy. Your cookies from Starbucks look a bit different than mine?? I liked the torte, didn't heart it though. It was pretty elegant though for the amount of time spent baking, huh? Have a great day!!!

Karen said...

Even at the last light of day your photos are beautiful! :) Someone else said they would give the egde to the chocolate armagnac cake as well. :) I also wish the dishes would wash themselves!

Maria said...

Looks like a fabulous dessert to me!

natalia said...

Ciao ! I like your slice a lot I didn't have the courage to add the ganache and the whipped cream to the cake !! The correct name is Lazzaroni I think they write the first z in an old fashioned way, usually amaretti are without sugar on top but why not ?

Banjo said...

Looks lovely!

pinkstripes said...

Your torte slice looks amazing with the whipped cream and cookie crumbles. How funny that you set the timer. My World Market did not have Amaretti, but I saw some at another market long after I made this cake. Now I know where to find them.

chocolatechic said...

Apricot kernels....very interesting!

bakingwiththeboys said...

My vote goes to Armagnac as well. Loved that you timed it!

leanne said...

Apricot? Hmmm. I didn't even notice. your cake looks lovely. Mine was rather thin too. Glad you are back to eating along with us too.

Natashya said...

Looks wonderful! It did make a lot of dishes.. and took me hours with the baking and then cooling and then ganache and then cooling that, then icing it, then chilling to set...
Great that you have a cake in the freezer - just for emergencies!

Fit Chick said...

You will love the glaze from the recipe, very easy and delicious. Your torte looks great as usual.

Jill said...

The World Market saga continues - I got my cookies from there, but they were a different brand. Your demo slice looks fantastic. I'm sure your tasters will love this torte! It was a tough call, but after the second serving of this torte, it beat out the Chocolate Armagnac Cake in my house.

Pam said...

That cake looks wonderful. I found the cookies at Marshall's, but then I couldn't remember what I wanted them for!

Di said...

I bought the same amaretti that you used. Right now they're sitting on my kitchen table, waiting to be turned into torte. And I don't even have a power outage to blame... =) Your torte looks great!

Reeni♥ said...

This looks delicious! And in record time! Your amazing!

farah said...

This looks fantastic! I couldn't find amaretti cookies so i made my own, i never knew about the apricot kernels though!

Katrina said...

Way to get 'er done admist conflict! ;) It looks GREAT! Awesome shot of the whipped cream on top!

Tracey said...

Your torte looks wonderful! I am jealous of the whipped cream on top. I wish I hadn't been so lazy and that I'd made it :)

Piggy said...

It definitely took me more than 15 minutes to bake the cake because I have to make my own amaretti before hand. ;-) Love your comparison of both cookies, now I know the difference. Btw, your torte looks great!

Pamela said...

It looks terrific, Nancy!

The Blonde Duck said...

I love all the detailed info you give!

Heather said...

A sleek, cool looking torte. Great job!

margot said...

I loved that you timed it. Your torte looks terrific with the whipped cream and cookie sprinkles. I also found out this week that baking on Mondays is very risky: my internet was down the better part of the night and I barely got my post up.

Liz said...

You are so sneaky! I love the idea of one perfectly glazed and styled slice next to an unglazed whole torte. Hee hee.

dharmagirl said...

what a gorgeous slice you have there! i couldn't find the cookies:(

i still need to try the chocolate armagnac cake!

kimberly salem said...

yay for blog food styling :) the slice looks great! i couldn't find the amaretti anywhere... although i didn't think to try starbucks! next time:)

TeaLady said...

Torte looks fantastic. I love flourless cakes (low carb ya know) but didn't make this one. Guess I will have to now. Great job on this one.

Lucky you to actually have a store that carries 'strange' ingredients. We don't have stores like that here in Podunk, USA.

Elyse said...

OH MY GAH, Nancy, your torte looks totally divine. You know that I'm a huge chocolate lover, and this torte just blows my mind. This is when I wish I were still in Atlanta because I'd totally invite myself over for a slice!

Emily said...

This looks beautiful, I'm not a huge chocolate person, but I know my hubs would be in heaven! I might have to do a cook-off this weekend between the chocolate torte and the lemon tart~ I'm much more of a citrus gal! Gorgeous blog.... I always so enjoy reading. -e