The Perfect Flourless Chocolate Love Cake: Chocolate-Almond Soufflé Torte

     February is another month filled with celebrations.  Between Valentine’s Day and birthdays, there are so many excuses around here to indulge in cake.  But what can you do if a loved one or friend is one of the many who are gluten-free?  Answer:  the Chocolate-Almond Soufflé Torte that I have been baking for years.  This is no meager substitute for a real cake.  It is rich and chocolatey and soul-satisfying.

Chocolate-Almond Soufflé Torte

     I made this one for C’s early birthday girlfriend celebration at the Rivah this past weekend.  In addition to tasting divine, it can be prepared a couple of days ahead and travels well in its pan.  Just whip up some cream with amaretto at your destination, and you have an impressive finish to any celebration dinner.

1 cup (about 5 ounces) whole almonds, toasted, cooled
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing pan and parchment paper
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 pound bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
 
1 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons amaretto or 1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
1/2 cup almond slices, toasted

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.  Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides and dust with cocoa powder.  Shake out excess powder.  Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter paper.

Combine 1/2 cup whole almonds and 2 tablespoons sugar in processor.  Using on/off turns, grind nuts finely.  Transfer mixture to bowl.  Combine remaining 1/2 cup whole almonds and vegetable oil in processor.  Process until mixture is thick and pasty (consistency will be similar to that of peanut butter), scraping bowl frequently, about 3 minutes.

Stir butter and 1/2 cup whipping cream in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and mixture simmers.  Remove from heat.  Add chocolate and whisk until smooth.  Stir in both almond mixtures.  Cool slightly.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl until soft peaks form.  Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Beat egg yolks in another large bowl until very pale and thick, about 5 minutes.  Gradually beat chocolate mixture into egg yolks.  Fold in egg whites in 3 additions.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake cake until sides crack and puff and tester inserted into center comes out with moist batter attached, about 35 minutes.  Transfer cake to rack.  Cool cake to room temperature, about 2 hours (center will fall slightly as cake cools.)  Cover and refrigerate.  Can be prepared up to 4 days in advance.

Beat chilled cream, amaretto and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar in large bowl until soft peaks form.  Tip:  chill bowl and beaters in freezer before whipping.

Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cake.  Release pan sides.  If desired, dust cake with powdered sugar and sprinkle toasted almond slices around top edge of cake.  Dollop slices with whipped amaretto cream.  Serve chilled  for a dense, fudgey texture or at room temperature for a creamy texture.

Serves 12 to 14.

Slightly modified from Chocolate-Almond Soufflé Torte, Bon Appétit  | February 1997, and found here.

Slice of Chocolate-Almond Heaven

     Show your sweetie the love with this chocolate confection.

All photos by Avad Fan.

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