Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Chocolate Therapy

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

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
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.


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Very nice gathering and sounds like everyone had fun. It's especially nice to remember loved ones on the holidays I think. And personally, chocolate is the cure for anything.

Speaking of your adorable kitty, it reminded me of a joke. One dog asked the other dog what his name was and he replied "Bad Doggie."

Anne said...

Looks like you had a very nice gathering with your family and nice to remember others at this time, too.The chocolate tort looks delicious. I must try that!

Arlene Delloro said...

Love your "little" gathering and your baby is adorable.

Angie's Recipes said...

That must have been a great get-together! Your bambino looks so adorable, Claudia.
Happy New Year to you and your lovely family!

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

Now that is SOME SMALL gathering, Claudia! I so have to make flourless chocolate torta after tasting one in Italy (ah, but not Capri!). I'll save your recipe for the day I can eat more than lettuce again! HA! Your cat peeking through is just darling! Buon anno cara amica, Roz

Kitchen Riffs said...

What a fun time that must have been! And chocolate comes from a plant, thus it's a vegetable -- I like your reasoning! :-) And your kitten in the tree is adorable! We've never had a cat climb a tree, although every one we've had has been convinced that we put up a tree full of cat toys every year. :-) Fun post -- thanks.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Well if that's your "little" gathering, I think you must have to erect a tent when you have a "large" gathering. How wonderful that you are able to host it Claudia, especially following the passing of your in-laws. I'll bet everyone is grateful that you are the glue holding these events.
I'm sure that cake was delicious. It's one of my favorites. And Pino is just the most precious little kitten, even if he likes to make his home in your Christmas tree.

Beth said...

Wishing you much happiness in 2015, too, Claudia. Your family picture is wonderful, and it sounds like you honoured both grandparents in a special way. I share your pain over the cold - with the wind chill, it was -22 earlier this week. Apparently it's "warming up" today.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

That is one large "little gathering", Claudia!I thought I commented on this post but I guess I did on facebook.

Your chocolate torte looks fabulous! I like that it is gluten free, so i can serve it to my entire family--I'm always looking for gluten free recipes to accommodate the allergic in my family. I like your reasoning that chocolate is a plant based food ;)

Have a very Happy New Year! I wish you good health, happiness and lots of published and award winning plays for 2015!

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

Just stopped by to read what you have been up to with your gifted way with words! Thank you for your kind comment last week about slowing down and living life more on our own terms!

Chiara said...

Love your "little" gathering Claudia !

Valerie said...

That's a big, lovely group! I'm sure they enjoyed that cake.