Torta Caprese — Flourless Chocolate Almond Torte

chocolate almond torte

On Christmas Eve my mother served this torta caprese — a flourless, chocolate-almond torte originating from the Isle of Capri — for dessert. If this is any indication of how it was received, not a single person sitting at the table, nine in total, turned down seconds. Later that evening, Santa even helped himself to thirds.

I love this class of cakes, those that can stand on their own, that don’t beg for layers of buttercream, pools of crème pâtissière, glazes of chocolate ganache or even dollops of whipped cream. This one, like the orange-and-olive oil cake and the Chez Panisse almond torte, fits into this class.

Containing no flour and leavened only by whipped egg whites, this torte is at once light, rich and moist. Ground almonds give it a wonderful texture throughout, and a splash of Grand Marnier offers a hint of orange. Made with bittersweet chocolate, it is perfectly sweet, and when it bakes, that brownie-like, most-delicious, paper-thin crust forms on the top-most layer. It is every bit elegant the finale of a special occasion should be, Valentine’s Day or otherwise. I hope you find an occasion to celebrate it soon.

chocolate almond torte ingredients

beaten egg yolks

chocolate & ground almonds

chocolate-almond torte batter

batter, ready for the egg whites to be folded in

beaten egg whites

ready for the oven

just-baked torte in spring form pan

just-baked torte

Torta Caprese

Source: The Best American Recipes 1999; Original Source: Naples at Table : Cooking in Campania by Arthur Schwartz

Notes: Like the orange-and-olive oil cake and the Chez Panisse almond torte, this one stays moist and delicious for days, so don’t be afraid to make it ahead of time.If you are abstaining from alcohol for whatever reason, the Grand Marnier, or other liqueur, is truly optional — delicious and moist with or without. And for whatever reason, the recipe doesn’t call for salt and doesn’t need it, but next time I make it, for no reason but curiosity, I might add a quarter teaspoon of sea salt.

12 oz unblanched* whole almonds (about 2 cups)
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
8 oz bittersweet**, coarsely chopped
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, optional

Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

*Original recipe calls for blanched; my mother says to use unblanched. I used sliced, unblanched and they worked great. Perhaps just stay away from roasted, salted almonds.

**I used Ghiradelhi.

1. Preheat oven to 325ºF and set a rack on the lower or middle level. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a circle of parchment paper.

2. Grind the almonds in a food processor, in three batches, pulsing each batch with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, using 6 tablespoons in all.

3. In a bowl over simmering water or in the top of a double boiler or in the microwave (I used the microwave), melt the choclate and butter together. Set aside.

4. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl with an electric mixer until lemon-colored, about 5 minutes. Gradually beat in 10 tablespoons of the sugar. Add the chocolate mixture, stirring to mix well. Add the ground almonds and stir to incorporate. Add the 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier, if using, and stir to combine.

5. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until they form firm peaks. In two additions, fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top. Put the pan on a cookie sheet (I don’t do this) and bake for 1 1/2 hours (my mother and I have had consistent results baking this torte for 55 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

7. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing the sides of the springform pan, then cool completely.

8. When the cake has cooled, turn it upside down onto a serving plate — we never flip this torte over. The top crackly layer is so pretty. But if you do decide to flip, peel off and discard the parchment paper. Just before serving, sift confectioners’ sugar over the top.

sugar-dusted torte

37 Comments

  1. This looks like another awesome dinner party dessert option (my default is your other flourless chocolate cake). Might just have to try this tonight even though there is no dinner party!

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  2. Grand Marnier is such a great flavoring for chocolate desserts, but if someone was not inclined to use alcohol, you could use a combination of vanilla and almond extract, I imagine. What a beautiful torte–and how nice that it keeps.

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  3. Flourless choc cake is one of my favorite desserts, my default recipe is from David Rosengarten, his good old days of FoodTV show, Taste.

    But, I think yours will be even better, the inclusion of almonds and Grand Marnier… WOW!

    Pinned for the future… ;-)

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    • Hina — I just emailed somebody about this question. If you have a scale, I would just weigh out 12oz of almond flour, otherwise, I would guess that you use about 1.75 cups. I am going to measure with my dry measuring cups 12oz of almond meal and see what it comes out to be. I’ll report back!

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      • Hina — I just weighed 2 cups of almond flour and it came out to be 6 1/8 ounces. I don’t totally know how to advise. I think using 4 cups of almond flour is way too much, but that is what 12oz almond flour equates to in dry measurements. I say use 2 cups almond flour and then evaluate how the cake comes out from there. Let me know how it turns out!

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  4. You need more than two cups ground almonds. I put in a healthy 2 cups and ended up
    Baking for the 1 hour 15 as top was done but the inside is a bit too moist. Albeit delicious. Not sure as trying tolet it cool thinking maybe it will become more solid.
    Maybe should have let it bake even longer? I’m sure it will get eaten.

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    • Diana — sorry for the trouble with the baking time issue. Thats always frustrating. Did you grind your own almonds or use almond flour? What size springform pan are you using? That could affect the time — the original recipe suggests baking it for as long as an hour and a half. As I noted, I baked mine for 55 min, and it is moist but not underdone. I let it cool completely — for 5 or 6 hours before cutting into it. Did yours sink in the middle at all? Did it get become more solid as it cooled? So sorry for the trouble.

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  5. i used ground almond flour–
    will try to grind my own whole almonds and see the difference, thats part of the fun of baking /experimenting. It did indeed sink in middle. no worries , half gone already.
    Definitely a recipe to return to . By the by… the mac and cheese with arancini was very good even in veg version with no pancetta. Thanks for a great blog.

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    • Diana — Glad to hear that the cake isn’t going to waste, but it is still frustrating when things don’t turn out. I think grinding the almonds is the way to go, and I should probably make a note of that in the recipe. Not only do they provide a nice texture, I think they also might help structurally, though I can’t say for sure. I guess if someone else were to try the almond flour, they should probably go by weight and use more like 4 cups of almond flour vs. 2? That just seems like so much, no?!

      So glad you like the veg version of the mac & cheese. Someone else suggested using fresh bay in place of the saffron, which I thought was a great idea. Thanks for your nice comment and for being understanding with the almond flour issue.

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  6. Ali: this is FABULOUS! I made it last night along with the pan-seared NY strip and citrus vinaigrette with breadcrumbs, and it was pretty darned amazing. My favorite part was the crackly topping. I had visions of us scooping it straight out of the pan because I don’t have a springform, but it slid right out, and after two flips to keep the crackly top on top, it was divine. I also love your chocolate layer cake…but this one probably edges it out…. just slightly. I used a bar of bittersweet and a bar of semi-sweet from Ghirardelli’s — next time, I’d probably just use the bittersweet (60%). SO GOOD.

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    • Oh Linds, I’m so happy to hear this. I would agree about this one slightly edging out the chocolate layer cake — there’s something just so elegant about its simplicity, and the taste I think is just perfect. I have been using the Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate for a variety of baking projects (namely a chocolate bread that I was hoping to blog about before Valentine’s Day, but alas never got around to), and I have been very pleased with its performance. Hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. xoxo

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  7. I made this today. I have a problem with these souffle base cakes. They fluff up so much even though juding from the pictures, it’s not supposed to. What am I doing wrong? I thought I was supposed to gently fold until it’s incorporated?

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    • Crotchfairy — Folding gently is definitely important, so I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong there. My only thought is that you might be overbeating your egg whites. Are you using a stand mixer to do this or a handheld mixer? I use my handheld mixer these days when beating egg whites because I find that it is not as powerful as my stand mixer and as a result will not overbeat the egg whites. My whites, after beating, were firm but still a little soft at the tips, if that makes sense. Also, when I go to fold these whites in, I basically mix (not so delicately) about a third of the whites into the batter to loosen/lighten it up, and then when I add the remainder, I start being more gentle. Hope that helps. Let me know what gadget you are using and we can discuss this further.

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  8. I actually have a tendency to agree with every little thing that is put into writing in “Torta Caprese —
    Flourless Chocolate Almond Torte | alexandra’s kitchen”. Thanks for pretty much all the actual info.Thanks for your effort,Katherin

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  9. Hi Alexandra,
    I am so excited to make this for my birthday. Especially when the ingredient list is so short and I dont have to go out and buy anything for it, just everything on hand. Is it possible to halve this recipe? It is just me and one other person in our house. Thanks:)

    Reply
    • Sana — I think you probably could halve the recipe — all of the quantities are in nice even amounts. My only question is about the size pan you plan on using. What were you thinking? I suppose if you made it in the same size pan here (8-inch springform) you would just have to decrease the time. Do you have a smaller springform pan? I wonder if even a square brownie pan might work?

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  10. Hi Alexandra,
    I made the cake just now and halved the recipe based on my loose calculations. I used 1 cup almonds and processed it with 3 tbsp sugar. And 3 egg whites and 3 yolks with 3 and 2 tbsps of sugar respectively. I didn’t have Grand Marnier, but I will definitely use it next time. And just one stick of butter. It came out perfect after baking for 45 minutes. I just love it so much. My only mistake was not using the darkest of chocolate. I used semi sweet one, thinking that using less sugar will make it better. But it is still sweet for my taste and not as intensely chocolatey as I had wanted. Nonetheless one of the best cakes I had.
    Thanks :).

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    • Sana — thanks so much for reporting back with your half-recipe experiment. Yes, I think dark chocolate is definitely key. If you have a Trader Joes, they sell Vahlrona chocolate 70% cacao, which I absolutely love. Ghirardelli dark chocolate also works nicely here. And if you don’t use grand marnier, a teaspoon of vanilla extract might be nice. So happy you liked it even so, and thanks again for writing in!

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  11. Made this last night for a small get together. I enjoyed the flavor, and the simplicity of the torta is elegant. I noticed it was quite crumbly. Have you found this as well?

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    • Dylan — I’m glad you enjoyed the flavor. The torta shouldn’t be too crumbly — when you cut slices, did they hold their shape? There definitely is a coarse texture created by the ground almonds, but the cake itself should have some good structure.

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  12. Pieces certainly held their shape, but gave way a little too easily under the pressure of a fork. Possibly kept it in the oven a touch too long. I was thinking of maybe adding some almond extract next time.

    I like your blog a lot. I consider myself a pretty competent home cook and discerning recipe reader, and a lot of your posts are better than a lot I see on the web. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Dylan — ok, hmm, I really don’t know how to analyze the crumbliness — I wish I knew a bit more about the science of baking. I think almond extract would be a nice addition here. And thank you so much for your nice comment. It means a lot to read that. I get a lot of pleasure from sharing recipes, especially when they turn out well for other people.

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  13. I just made this tonight for a small gathering of a few friends. I used the ground almonds sold in the supermarket and substituted them weight for weight with the almonds ground in the food processor here. It turned out fine, lovely and moist and didn’t sink in the middle at all. A huge success and much easier to make than I thought. I cooked it for about an hour in the end and it was perfect :) The only thing I would do is probably try and use more chocolate next time – I used half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate, so would probably use mostly dark next time, although I’m not too keen on dark chocolate normally. But a lovely pudding that is very versatile :) Thanks for the recipe! Love the blog as well!

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    • UDavies — wonderful to hear this! I love this recipe for the same reasons — lovely, moist, easy, versatile, etc. So glad to hear you didn’t have issues with any sinking in the middle. It’s interesting how chocolates perform in baking versus how they taste on their own. I hope it turns out even better for you next time using mostly dark chocolate. Thanks for your kind words about the blog, too.

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  14. I made this cake with a few changes because I love almond meal cakes. I used 12 ozs of almond meal (ground almonds) and I did it the lazy way: whisked the eggs and sugar together until well combined then added the melted coconut oil (I don’t use butter) and chocolate mix, added orange rind, amaretto, the almond meal. I also added some candied clementine slices the second time I made it. I placed these on the top of the batter once the batter was in the baking tin. Thi cake was absolutely delicious – gourmet, dense, moist, orangey, almondy, chocolatey and oh so rich! Fabulous! It will definitely become a keeper.

    Reply
  15. I’m not a reader of your website but I just wanted to thank you tons for this recipe. I’m the kind of person who normally searches the web for recipes and uses them, forgetting to go back to review them. However, I just had to let you know that this recipe is wonderful! I haven’t seen the actual cake but just tried the batter and couldn’t stop eating it! I wanted to let you know before the cake gets out of the oven because I’m worried I’ll be too busy eating it to remember to post. ;)

    Reply

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