Monday, November 7, 2011

Amaretti Torte

I've been making lists and checking them twice.  There's a pile of November and December magazines alongside a stack of cookbooks by my leather "relaxing" chair.  A pad and pen are at the ready.  The question is should we stay with the tried, true and traditional Thanksgiving dinner or try something new?  One dish?  Two?  My mother and grandmother never surprised us.  It was always the same menu on that late November Thursday.  I think we would have been very disappointed to find rutabaga puree (I didn't just pull that one out of a hat--I clipped a recipe out of the paper last week) in place of the sweet potato casserole.  This, however, is a different century.  Hmm, I suddenly felt OLD!!  We'll see.  Note to any of our Thanksgiving dinner guests:  Don't start worrying yet!!

If I were preparing a dessert in place of pumpkin pie, it would be this torte.  There's a note on the recipe that says it was first made in 2001 and we all loved it.  It's from one of my favorite Italian cooks, Marcella Hazan.  I've never been disappointed in a recipe from her and this torte is no exception.

Chocolate Amaretti Cake slightly adapted from a recipe by Marcella Hazan

1/2 pound butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup flour
10 pairs of amaretti (the 4 ounce pairs wrapped in colorful papers--not the small unwrapped ones)  ground to powder form in a food processor
2 ounces of semisweet baking chocolate, finely grated
A 9" round springform pan

1.  Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
2.  One at a time, separate the eggs and beat the yolks into the butter mixture.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour and the ground amaretti.  Add to the butter mixture a little at a time beating until thoroughly mixed.
4.  Add the grated chocolate, mixing well.
5.  Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Gently stir in 4 Tbsp of the whites to the cake mixture.  This will loosen it somewhat.  Fold in the remaining egg whites.
6.  Butter and flour the baking pan, knocking out the excess flour.
7.  Pour the batter into the pan.
8.  Bake in the uppermost level of the oven for 1 hour.  Start testing for doneness at about 45 minutes.  It's done when a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.
9.  Loosen the side of the springform pan.  Let it sit to settle a little while.

We serve it with slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Note:  The amaretti come in a bright red box or a tin.  They are easy to find in most specialty markets and are available online.

If one smooths out the pretty tissue paper and holds it over a lit candle, it is said that if the burning paper floats up to the ceiling a wish will come true.  I think, more likely, it could set the ceiling on fire.  I don't recommend you try this!!