love in the form of flourless chocolate torte


flourless chocolate torte I, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

At the end of the day, after long hours of work, I just can’t wait to race home. Not to lie down on the couch and flounder for awhile, like I did this time last year. Lousy time last year — when I was enervated from celiac disease and didn’t even know it. But this year, even though it’s January, and it just won’t stop raining from the Seattle skies, I race home gleefully, excited, once again, to stand in front of the stove and create something I’ve never cooked before.

But even I like to step away from the stove sometimes. When dear friends offer to make me a gluten-free dinner, I happily sit down at the table instead.

Last week, Amy and Paul made dinner for me. And not just any dinner, but a wonderfully satisfying gluten-free dinner. We live twelve blocks from each other, but we’re all so darned busy that finding the time to sit down together more than once a month seems impossible. Somehow, though, arranging a small dinner party feels wonderfully civilized.

It always feels civilized at Amy and Paul’s. Amy, who has been my friend for the past four years, has impeccable taste, with small frames arranged on the living room wall perfectly. She has a penchant for all things cupcake (including a photo of two of the Sex and the City girls in front of Magnolia Bakery, on her refrigerator), and a photograph of herself as a little girl with Beverly Sills. Always kind, a cheerful listener, and an equal fan of silly pratfalls as me, Amy is a wonderful friend. Paul came into her life a couple of years ago, and I knew within weeks that they’d be getting married. He’s unfailingly kind, gentle of spirit, and a real mensch. And lately, he has hip glasses! At parties, Paul is always aware of the awkward spaces and tries to fill them, or break down any tension. He’s wildly enthusiastic about certain things, and when he really starts gesticulating, his voice squeaks a little, adorably.

Of course, they both love food as much as I do. It’s hard for me to imagine being close with anyone who doesn’t love to talk about the joys of Wusthoff knives, different kinds of chocolate, and our favorite produce finds. So we bantered and danced around our favorite topic: food.

On the lovely dining room table, there was the green relish for which Amy gave me the recipe for my birthday, along with blue corn chips. Soon, Paul produced a quinoa risotto, which zinged in the mouth with softness. He found the recipe in a Mayo Clinic cookbook, which doesn’t sound too exciting, granted. But we all agreed it tasted surprisingly good. And there were sea scallops, flash sauteed and wonderfully satisfying.

We ate well. We moved to the living room to sit around on sofas and crack each other up. Good music. Great wine. An entire evening stretching before us, and nothing but happiness in the room.

But still, we were waiting.

About forty minutes after we finished eating dinner, Paul put his hands on his knees, and said, “Okay, who’s ready for chocolate?”

Ah, thank goodness.

Earlier in the day, Amy had called me, to make sure that powdered sugar, which is mixed with cornstarch, didn’t have gluten in it. It doesn’t. We were fine. Still, I always feel really loved when someone I know cooks for me, and wants to make sure I’m not sick. And so, as a decadent gesture, Amy had made Macrina’s flourless chocolate torte.

If you don’t live in Seattle, then you probably don’t know about Macrina. This haven of gourmand pleasures is the best bakery in Seattle. At least, I think so. Little apple tartelettes. Whole wheat cider bread. Demi-baguette sandwiches with thin slices of French ham. Enormous ginger-molasses cookies encrusted with granules of sugar. And for my purposes the first two years I lived here, it was perfect. One of the two branches of Macrina is just down the street from where I live. As you can imagine, I was there nearly every day.

Not anymore, of course.

Now, I can’t really walk into Macrina again. Oh sure, I could have tea there with a friend, but the smell of all those glutened goodies I cannot eat starts to drive me insane. Plus, I’m sensitive enough that simply sitting in a bakery for an hour starts to make me feel a little sick. It’s just too painful. I don’t go anymore.

But when Amy told me she was making the flourless chocolate torte for our dinner, I did a little cheer. This beautiful chocolate bounty sits in the glass case at Macrina, haunting me. There’s not a bit of flour in it, and if you make sure to use a gluten-free chocolate and vanilla extract, you can enjoy an entire evening of chocolate heaven without getting sick.

Yummmm.

flourless chocolate torte IV

So here they are, Amy and Paul, behind a slice of the torte they made for my visit. That’s real love, those two. What a joy to know them. And to eat some of that flourless chocolate torte.

Macrina Bakery Flourless Chocolate Torte

Thick with chocolate and decadent to the tongue, this torte is simply heaven. One bite brings sighs. Two bites makes you moan. And after three bites, you can’t imagine ever eating anything again.

If you eat it the same day as you make it — which we did — it will be light and fairly cakey. If you put it in the refrigerator and eat it the next day — which I did with the leftovers — it’s far more fudge-like and dense. No problem. Either way, it’s fairly amazing.

flourless chocolate torte II

ten ounces bittersweet chocolate (try Dagoba, which is gluten-free)
nine eggs
twelve tablespoons unsalted butter
three-quarter cup granulated sugar
one-quarter cup dark cocoa powder, sifted
two cups fresh raspberries
powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a springform pan with butter.

Roughly chop the chocolate into slivers. Put the chocolate slivers into a stainless-steel bowl, then place the bowl on top of a saucepan filled with two inches of water you have already started to simmer. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl does not come into contact with the water. The chocolate pieces will begin to melt. Stir the melting chocolate gently until the melted mixture is of a uniform consistency. Remove the bowl from the hot water.

Crack the eggs, slithering the egg whites into one bowl, then placing the yolks into another bowl. Set the bowls aside.

Combine the butter and sugar in a stand mixer (or use your hand mixer, if you have that). Mix on low speed for one to two minutes. Mix at medium speed for five more minutes, which will cream the butter. As the butter and sugar cream, the mixture will lighten. Add the egg yolks, two at a time, mixing entirely before adding more eggs. After you have mixed in all the egg yolks, add the cocoa powder and mix it in completely.

Fold in the melted chocolate, at this point. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl, being sure to scrape down the sides. Whip the egg whites until you have formed medium-stiff peaks. Fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate batter with a rubber spatula, one third at a time. Stir and stir until there are no visible white streaks. Pour the batter into the springform pan and scatter half the raspberries over the top. Poke the berries down until they have dunked below the surface.

Place the pan in the oven — center rack — and bake for forty-five minutes. Take it out of the oven, then cool it on a wire rack for thirty minutes. Take off the side of the springform pan. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top of the cake and garnish with the raspberries.
And if you wish, you could top each slice with this whipped cream:

two cups heavy cream
two tablespoons granulated sugar
one teaspoon pure vanilla extract (make sure it’s gluten-free)
one-quarter cup powdered sugar

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of your hand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer). Mix until you have reached whipped cream consistency — slightly thick, but still quite soft. Spoon on top.

27 comments on “love in the form of flourless chocolate torte

  1. Zarah Maria

    What a heart-warming post Shauna — and when things end with chocolate cake, they couldn’t end better!

  2. Sasha

    It always means so much when people go out of their way to make sure that they can “break bread” with you. Eating is an intimate social event, and so often those of us that are gluten-free get excluded. I applaud your friends, they are beautiful people. You seem to attract the best of everything in your life.

  3. Melissa CookingDiva

    Shauna, loved the post, and of course the fluorless chocolate torte too! It is one of my favorites. Hugs!
    m

  4. Annie

    I just discovered your blog after learning, this week, that my life will now be gluten-free. I was somewhat prepared — most of my extended family has been diagnosed with celiac disease — but as a recent college grad, I am really just starting to learn to cook. I really enjoy it, but the last few days have been filled with panicky trips to the grocery store, trying to figure out where what I can cook meets what I can eat. So, this is a wonderful resource and will be, I’m sure, a source of inspiration. Thank you!

  5. J

    hi shauna, what a lovely post, as always…i have the macrina cafe book and it is indeed filled with all sorts of wonderful recipes, although i have yet to try this flourless gateau — thanks for the heads-up. btw, there’s a great flourless chocolate cake recipe in alice medrich’s bittersweet that’s truly spectacular too…

  6. michelle

    Flourless chocolate torte? My favorite! I’m glad that you have friends to pamper you there! I swore that I had posted on your yummy fig newtons too, but alas, perhaps I just composed it in my head and got pulled away from it because of work. Your grown-up fig newtons sound amazing as well. Happy eating my dear, and I’m glad to know others who flock to the kitchen to get out of the rain!

  7. beastmomma

    The chocolate torte sounds divine. So impressed as usual with the weaving of cooking and relationships.

  8. Ruth

    Well, not sure if my comment made it (it doesn’t look it) and better twice than not at all.

    I love visiting your site. You have the most positive, wonderful take on life and it’s contageous.

    The photos are spectacular. They just keep getting better and better.

    Thanks for sharing.

  9. Kitchen Queen

    I make a version of this cake often. It’s so good even the non-GF people in my family request it over flour-containing cakes.

    I’m so glad I found your site! I have a daughter who cannot eat gluten and will be checking in often. Thanks for the great list of links, too!

  10. Jamie

    Just had to say I made this recipe last night — and it was soooo good! It melted on my tongue, I hadn’t had anything quite like that before. Thanks so much for sharing that recipe — it’ll be one I use a lot :D

  11. Joe

    Now that is a piece of chocolate heaven that I’d love to have a bite of. I love the snowy covering on top with the raspberries!

  12. the pragmatic chef™

    So, would you call this a post about “torte reform?”

    [ducks at thrown spring-form pan]

    1. monica

      Ha. Cute.
      I’m going to try to make this for my birthday cake. This is going to be my first gluten free birthday. Thanks for sharing all this, it sure helps to know there’s amazing resources like this out there!

  13. blurgirl

    This last post’s mention of Macrina Bakery prompted me to seek out this lauded Seattle institution and finally sample some of its tastiness for myself. After all the accolades, it was a treat to enjoy delicious green tea, a slice of whisper cake, and a chocolate chip cookie with my sweetie this past weekend.

    If it weren’t for your post who knows when I would have taken my duff to Macrina. I’m sure glad I did. Thanks!

  14. Lindsay

    I found your blog on a search for a flourless chocolate torte recipe I had from the now long gone Quilted Giraffe in NYC, then stayed to read your wonderful post. Such friends, and such a warm picture you created of the evening, making readers feel as though they had shared in the fun. Your friends reminded me so much of my friends from Salt Lake City…must be a western thing!

  15. Anonymous

    Actually, you don’t have to seek out gluten free extracts (like vanilla) since it has been proven that the gluten molacules are too large to make it through the distilling process. So all distilled products are naturally gluten free!

    Macrina’s is actually known far outside the Seattle area. The owner/baker was on one of Julia Child’s PBS series, showcasing up and coming chefs & bakers. The bakery has also been featured in at least one cookbook about artisan bakeries.

    As far as something being gluten free from the bakery, it can’t be. Even if they don’t have flour IN the product, there are particulates of flour and yeast in the air of the bakery. So anything they have there has been contaminated & those of us who can’t have gluten wouldn’t be able to eat anything they make.

  16. Darwin

    Hmm, I made this in a 9-inch springform, following directions exactly, and the center sank quite a bit, like a sunken souffle (the side edges are about 1 to 3/4 inches highert than the center. Your photos show a torte with a flat top. Did you flip yours over so the bottom became the top before you added the powdered sugar? If not, what did I do wrong?

  17. Dallas Designing-Diva

    Thank you! I made this for my Bunco group last Friday and I’m eating the last piece for breakfast this morning. Absolute heaven and really simple to make (your directions are fabulous).

  18. Lori

    @Darwin The exact same thing happened to mine. I made it this weekend and it was very tasty, but I am a very visual person and I like my baked goods to look good as well as taste good. It’s very important to me. I came here to ask this exact question or I was hoping it was already answered. I hope it’s that theirs was flipped over first. That is a good idea.

  19. Alanna Banks

    I have made this twice now and absolutely love it. It’s also a crowd pleaser. For Thanksgiving I spiced it up with 1 tsp of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves and 1/4 tsp ground allspice. Deelish!

  20. Joanne

    I made this gluten AND diary free (by substituting butter with Nuttelex) & found I had to cook it a lot longer because of that; 1 hour 15 mins in total. The cake sank terribly despite that but I turned it over a few times in the hours that it cooled until it was more or less even and it was just delicious! :) A very nice cake to eat, everyone loved it.

  21. Andrea

    Shauna,
    This chocolate torte is seriously divine! I made it for Passover last night and it was a HUGE hit. Yum. The first time I made it was 2 years ago, when I was actually misdiagnosed with Celiac. I continue to use your recipes despite not being totally gluten free now. Thanks for your delicious recipes!

    Best,
    Andrea