Good morning! I hope y’all had a relaxing weekend. I did! Quick weekend recap: Friday night we went to happy hour at the Club (much, much less glamorous than it sounds) and dinner at Bonnie’s (basically our Friday night routine). Saturday Wheat went duck hunting (of course) and I laid low, caught up on writing blogs and reading them, juiced a bunch of lemons, and generally just chilled out. Sunday we went to visit my mom – or rather, Wheat quail hunted with my dad while Harold and I visited my mom. She just had another surgery on her ankle last week, so she’s not up for hunting again just yet. Send positive, healing thoughts her way, if you don’t mind me asking!
I also finished up a little project that I’ll share with you tomorrow, plus I swapped out the ribbon on my mini Oyster wreath (I know, big moves).
I think the brown satin looks infinitely better, don’t you? I put cotton out in place of Christmas greenery, too. Because what’s more southern than oysters and cotton?
Oh, and mercury glass is my weakness. Even if it’s faux mercury glass from Target.
I should probably get better at taking vignette pictures. But anyway, you get the idea. Improvements were made.
And I don’t have much else to share from the weekend! Sometimes that’s a good thing.
I do, however, have the flour-less cake recipe that I made for my mother-in-law Nancy’s birthday last week, and some pretty (and not-so-pretty) pictures to go along with it.
I even set a real table!
In case anyone is wondering: Plates (Lenox French Perle), Napkins (Vintage, from an antique store in Port St. Joe, Florida), Vintage Water Glasses from my Grandmother, and I believe the stemless wine glasses are from Target. The “runner” is just a piece of cream burlap leftover from my DIY Monogram project. The gorgeous herb napkin rings were a wedding gift from Wheat’s cousin Darren and his wife, Mary Ellen. Each one is a different herb, and I believe she picked them up at At Home in Thomasville.
Now, let’s get down to this cake.
As I mentioned last week, my in-laws have gone gluten-free. They aren’t crazy strict about it, but I wanted to make them a cake they could enjoy without feeling guilty about it. I knew I wanted something that was flourless, rather than a substitution for the wheat-flour. I have seen multiple recipes for flourless Italian almond cakes, so I started skimming through the Southern Italian Desserts (<–affiliate link!)
cookbook my cousin Kristy gave me over Christmas.
It’s a gorgeous cookbook with lots of traditional Southern Italian desserts (but no pizzelle recipe!), and I was thrilled to find the recipe for Torta Caprese, which is a flourless chocolate almond cake.
The recipe calls for grinding your own almonds for the cake, so you’ll need a food processor. I was happy to put the new one Nancy gave me to work! I did this the day before to save time. I also go to put my new mixer Nancy gave me for Christmas, as well as my older one I got for Christmas years ago from my parents, both to work for this cake. I’d recommend having two before making this cake, or a stand mixer plus a hand mixer. It will just make your life easier.
not even tweaked (except for the whipped cream) from Southern Italian Desserts: Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily
– 8 ounces (aka two bars or 226 grams) dark chocolate (55 to 60 percent cacao)
– 1 2/3 cups (250 grams) skin-on natural almonds
– 1 cup (226 grams or two sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
– 5 large eggs, at room temperature and separated
– 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua (optional)
– Pinch of kosher salt
– confectioner’s sugar or whipped cream, for serving
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the center. Grease a 10-inch springform pan.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, then set aside until the bowl is cool to the touch.
Process the almonds in a food processor until they have the texture of coarse cornmeal, stopping before they are as fine as flour.
Mix the butter with about half of the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment at medium speed until smooth. Add the yolks, one at a time, beating and scraping the bowl between additions. At low speed, mix in the liqueur and then the melted chocolate until well blended, then mix in the ground almonds.
Beat the egg whites and salt in a clean bowl using a clean whisk attachment at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar, a little at a time, then continue to beat at high speed until firm peaks form that are not at all dry.
Using a large spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then gently fold in the remaining whites until no streaks remain. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 50 to 55 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, run a knife around the edge, then release and remove the ring. Transfer the cake on the pan bottom to a serving plate, as the author prefers, or invert onto the serving plate as they do in Capri.
To serve, dust the top of the cake with confectioners’ sugar, or top with a dollop of whipped cream.
Up until this point, the cake-making progressed without incident. I, however, lost my nice spring-form pan years ago somehow and never replaced it. So when I was purchasing the ingredients for this cake, I also purchased a cheapo springform pan at Winn Dixie. I will soon be depositing said springform pan in the Goodwill donation pile. I greased it and filled it with light, fluffy chocolate batter and proceeded to bake. When I got my toothpick out to check at 50 minutes, my kitchen was promptly filled with smoke. The cheapo pan leaked in the oven. So I highly suggest either just greasing a regular old 10 inch cake pan and inverting the cake, or invest in a nice springform pan.
Naturally, I disregarded the author and inverted the cake, basically ignoring her cautions and also rendering my purchase of a springform pan pointless. And everything was okay, except for a small crack in my cake, as you can see below. Oopsies. But the rule related to ugly cakes is that if you mention that it’s an ugly cake, you don’t get to eat that ugly cake.
Luckily, no one complained.
And I could have just sprinkled this cake with confectioners’ sugar and called it a (birth)day. But that just wouldn’t do. And neither would just a dollop of whipped cream.
I basically iced it with kahlua whipped cream.
Kahlua Whipped Cream
– 2 tablespoons kahlua
– one half-pint heavy whipping cream
– 1 tablespoon sugar
Put all three ingredients in the bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.
This cake is awesome, but it also has an awesome story behind it. So as not to mutilate the story, I’ll just copy it here verbatim:
“This rich cake takes its name from the island of Capri, where it originated. Many tales are told of the way the cake came about, perhaps the most charming of which recounts a visit to Capri in the 1920s from a group of Mafia men on behalf of Al Capone. Pastry chef Carmine Di Fiore was mortified when he realized he’d forgotten the flour in the cake, but the mobsters like the moist, chocolaty confection so much they asked for its name. Di Fiore quickly replied, ‘Torta Caprese!’ and it has kept that name ever since. The cake is renowned on the island and throughout the Amalfi Coast.”
I wonder if it actually was just a mistake though, because whipping the egg whites separately to lighten the batter is a characteristic of many flourless cakes. Either way, it’s really good.
And…. here’s where my pictures get truly subpar. There’s a time and place for my 50mm lens. This was not one of those times and places.
However, this was a perfectly delicious cake, and no one even missed the flour. The egg whites kept it from being too dense, but with no flour to absorb all the liquid, it was really moist.
Side note: how can I describe a cake as being moist without actually using that word?? I hate that word. Ick. So grodie.
Anyway, whether you’re gluten free or not, this is the perfect simple cake for a birthday or just a day. Happy birthday again, Nancy!