Keri White | Special to WJW
As more and more people avoid gluten, the need to have some good wheat-free recipes in the arsenal becomes increasingly necessary. Fortunately, I have found two that are wonderful.
Passover has passed over, but I suggest filing these in the box for next year; both can be made kosher for Passover, and the chocolate torte can swap margarine for butter and skip the cream topping if a pareve dish is required.
Chocolate Almond Torte
Serves 8-12 depending on size of slices
1 heaping cup dark chocolate chips
1 stick butter or margarine
1 cup almond flour
5 eggs, separated
⅔ cup sugar, divided
Cocoa powder or powdered sugar for dusting, optional
Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then line it with parchment. Coat the parchment with cooking spray. Set it aside.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and butter on 50% power for 3 minutes, or until it’s completely melted and smooth. Cool it to room temperature.
Separate the eggs carefully, making sure that no yolk gets in the whites. In a separate bowl, whisk the yolks with ⅓ cup of sugar until fluffy, and add it to the chocolate mixture. Add the almond flour and mix.
Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites with the remaining ⅓ cup of sugar until peaks form and hold their shape. The whites should be fluffy and creamy, like shaving cream. Do not overbeat, or they will become dry and grainy.
Gently and slowly fold the whites into the chocolate mixture, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top.
Bake for about 30 minutes until the top of the cake is dry and just beginning to crack. Cool it completely, remove it from the springform pan, invert it to peel off the parchment and place it on a cake plate.
Sift cocoa powder or powdered sugar on the cake to serve, and top it with fresh whipped cream, sorbet or fruit, if desired.
My friend served this for Passover dessert — it was her Italian grandmother’s recipe. She insisted that it was called “pie,” though I had a hard time accepting that a pie was made in an oblong pan and did not have a crust.
But, far be it for me to argue with a dear, departed nonna, and, whatever it’s called, the dessert was delicious. It provided a lovely dairy dessert for her seder, but I could also see this as a brunch dish; it has a sweet kugel-ish vibe, absent the noodles.
We had the pie served with fresh strawberries on the side, but any cut fresh fruit, whipped cream, a chocolate or caramel drizzle, fruit compote, sugared nuts, candied lemon or orange peel would make a swell adornment. And the pie stands on its own just fine.
A note on the ricotta: My friend has made this with both the supermarket ricotta and the fresh, house-made versions available at Italian specialty shops. She prefers the version made with the supermarket ricotta as she found that the fresh variety made the batter’s texture too thick and dense.
3 pounds ricotta cheese
1 scant cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1 teaspoon vanilla
Coat a 13-inch-by-9-inch oblong pan with cooking spray. Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients until well-blended. Pour them into the pan, sprinkle the top with cinnamon and bake for 45-60 minutes until the mixture is set and a knife comes out clean.
Cool before cutting.