I had a little family gathering Christmas Eve. Not everyone could come of course but a few of us made it. Grandpa would have been 96. It was the first Christmas without being able to hug Grandma and Grandpa. Over the course of many years as Grams aged, she would preface every dinner asking for dandelion wine (sometimes quite forcibly). She didn't drink.
After she passed away, a cousin sent us a few bottles of dandelion wine. For Grams. So before the meal, we had a toast. To Grams and Grandpa - thanking them for our family. A few tears were shed but the laughter and gratitude outweighed the sadness.
Were started the meal with Oyster Stew (for Grandpa) and moved on to traditional American "farm" meals (for Grams). The Italian meal comes on Christmas Day. Paul and I have been low-carb for most of 2014 - so much so - that if we pass a bakery and smell a loaf of bread baking, we need to catch each other as we swoon. This year, when we were feeling deprived (that would be almost always), we would turn to chocolate for help. Chocolate is good therapy. And even the really good chocolate costs less than a therapist. (I still haven't outgrown that "instant gratification" thing.)
Plus: chocolate comes from a plant. Ergo: chocolate is a vegetable. So below, I am presenting you with a gluten-free chocolate vegetable. It's a variation of the flourless chocolate tortes you find on the island of Capri. It's -7F degrees here. I'll happily visit Capri via the chocolate train.
Chocolate-Almond Torte - serves about 8 depending on how much chocolate therapy you need
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate - coarsely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
6 eggs - separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar - divided
1/2 cup almond flour
Confectioners sugar and raspberries for finishing
2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper. (I lightly butter that also).
3. In the top of a double boiler (over simmering water), melt the chocolate and the butter. Set aside.
4. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl until bright yellow. (Takes about five minutes.) Slowly, beat in 1/2 cup of the sugar.
5. Slowly add the chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Add the almond flour and combine.
6. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until they form firm peaks. There is no starch in this for leavening, so it is important that the egg whites are glossy and firm.
7. Carefully fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Fold until all is shiny and chocolatey and no ribbons of egg whites are left.
8. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for about 50-55 minutes. Torte is done when you do the toothpick test and it comes clean.
9. Let cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes.
10. Using two plates, flip torte over onto one plate, peel off parchment paper and flip onto another plate.*
*You can simply serve this upside down! I froze the cake over night and it helps with serving. I don't serve it frozen (I have enough "frozen" in my life living in MN!) But I do serve it kind of cold so it doesn't fall apart during the slicing.
This can be frozen for a few weeks - so it's perfect for "making ahead."
You can use a chocolate ganache or a caramel sauce for serving. When you have 40+ people coming for Christmas Eve dinner, simple is best. I sifted some confectioners sugar over it and dotted it with raspberries.
We ended 2014 trying to keep the kitten out of the tree.
We couldn't. We worried that Pino-Bambino (or Cioppino) would strangle himself on the lights. We wondered if he was starting to think his name was "NO!" So, we took the tree down early!
But isn't he cute? When he's exhausted from climbing the tree?
I wish you all goodness and light in 2015.