Torta Caprese, chocolate and almond cake                March 2018

It is said that in the 1920s Al Capone had sent three gangsters to Naples to buy amongst other things Spats and while they were visiting Capri (a weekend break) the chef Carmine Di Fiore created this cake. He was preparing a classic chocolate almond cake but he forgot to add the flour. Was because of the excitement, or because of the fear, no one will ever know. However, the cake turned out to be exceptional, crispy on the outside squidgy on the inside, the henchmen enjoyed it so much they asked for the recipe to take back to Mr Capone. The cake went on to became one of the most famous and loved in Italy.

For 8 to 10 people you will need:

Serves 8-10 

  • 200g of ground almonds 
  • 200g of the highest quality dark chocolate that you are willing to use (I like 70% cocoa 
  • 200g of unsalted butter, chopped
  • 170g of caster sugar 4 eggs, separated and left to come to room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • icing sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 170C.

Grease and line a 20cm/8 inch springform cake tin (or one with a removable base). 

In a glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Once melted, add the butter and remove from the heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until it is completely smooth. 

Add the almonds and the sugar. Once the mixture is cool, add the egg yolks and stir with the spoon until mixed.

In a separate bowl (use a metal, ceramic or glass bowl, not a plastic one), whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until smooth, fluffy peaks begin to form. Fold these gently into the chocolate batter, then pour the smooth batter into the prepared cake tin.

Bake for about 40 minutes or until the top of the cake appears dry. A dry spaghetti strand inserted in the middle should come out with a few crumbs attached but not appear to have wet batter on it. Don’t overcook the cake (I did the first time I made it) as it leads to a drier cake, nothing like the moist, dense cake you are looking for.

Once baked, leave to cool a little then turn out onto a cooling rack. Once completely cool sprinkle the top with icing sugar and serve with cream or ice cream. It’s good, or even better the next day.

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