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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Italian Flourless Chocolate Torta

Italian Flourless Chocolate Torta

Appears in July-August 2021

1 hour 30 minutes active, plus cooling

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Italian Flourless Chocolate Torta

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Pasticceria Gollini in Vignola, Italy, not far from Modena, is home to the sumptuous flourless chocolate cake known as torta Barozzi. Created in 1886 by pastry chef Eugenio Gollini and named for Jacopo Barozzi da Vignola, a 16th-century architect, the much-loved sweet continues today to be produced according to a closely guarded secret recipe. Impostor recipes abound, as professional and home bakers alike have attempted to re-create the dessert, and we ourselves set out to devise a formula. It’s well known that torta Barozzi is made without wheat flour (and is therefore gluten free). Instead, a combination of ground peanuts and almonds—along with whipped egg whites—deliver a structure that’s somehow rich and dense yet remarkably light. We found that we could skip the peanuts, as almond flour alone worked well. To achieve a complex chocolatiness, we use both cocoa powder and bittersweet chocolate (ideally, chocolate with about 70 percent cocoa solids). Instant espresso powder accentuates the deep, roasty, bitter notes and a dose of dark rum lifts the flavors with its fieriness. Serve with lightly sweetened mascarpone or whipped cream, or with vanilla gelato.

8 to 10

Servings

Tip

Don’t use natural cocoa. The recipe will still work, but the cake will be lighter in color and not quite as deep in flavor as when made with Dutch-processed cocoa. Take care not to overbake the cake. Remove it from the oven when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few sticky crumbs clinging to it. After 30 to 45 minutes of cooling, the cake is inverted out of the pan; don’t worry about re-inverting it. True torta Barozzi is left upside-down for cutting and serving; we do the same with ours.

1 hour

30 minutes active, plus cooling

141 grams (10 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 10 pieces, plus more for the pan
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
20 grams (¼ cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
4 large eggs, separated, room temperature
160 grams (¾ cup) white sugar, divided
100 grams (1 cup) almond flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons dark rum
Ingredients
  • 141

    grams (10 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 10 pieces, plus more for the pan

  • 6

    ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

  • 20

    grams (¼ cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for dusting

  • 1

    tablespoon instant espresso powder

  • 4

    large eggs, separated, room temperature

  • 160

    grams (¾ cup) white sugar, divided

  • 100

    grams (1 cup) almond flour

  • ½

    teaspoon table salt

  • 3

    tablespoons dark rum

Directions
  1. 01
    Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Butter an 8-inch square pan, line the bottom with a parchment square and butter the parchment.
  2. 02
    In a medium saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, cocoa and espresso powder. Let stand for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to soften, then whisk until the mixture is smooth; cool until barely warm to the touch.
    See Demo
    Italian flourless chocolate torta step1
  3. 03
    In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks and 107 grams (½ cup) of the sugar until lightened and creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until homogeneous. Add the almond flour and salt, then whisk until fully incorporated. Whisk in the rum; set aside.
    See Demo
    Italian flourless chocolate torta step2
  4. 04
    In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining 53 grams (¼ cup) sugar, then beat until the whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Add about a third of the whipped whites to the yolk-chocolate mixture and fold with a silicone spatula to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape in the remaining whites and gently fold them into the batter until no streaks remain. Transfer to the prepared pan and gently shake or tilt the pan to level the batter.
    See Demo
    Italian flourless chocolate torta step3
  5. 05
    Bake until the cake is slightly domed and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 to 45 minutes; the cake will deflate slightly as it cools.
    See Demo
    Italian flourless chocolate torta step4
  6. 06
    Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a platter; if needed, peel off and discard the parchment. Cool completely. Dust with cocoa before serving.
Tip: Don’t use natural cocoa. The recipe will still work, but the cake will be lighter in color and not quite as deep in flavor as when made with Dutch-processed cocoa. Take care not to overbake the cake. Remove it from the oven when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few sticky crumbs clinging to it. After 30 to 45 minutes of cooling, the cake is inverted out of the pan; don’t worry about re-inverting it. True torta Barozzi is left upside-down for cutting and serving; we do the same with ours.
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Reviews
April C.

The magazine says “we needed to add baking powder” but neither the print version or this one mentions it??

Lynn C.

Hi April -

Unfortunately there was an error in the print version of the story, where we erroneously mentioned adding baking powder to the recipe. Both the recipe in print and online are correct - there is no baking powder in the recipe - and the web version of the story has been updated to remove that reference. We are so sorry for the confusion!

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Diana L.

I made this yesterday. My family rated as 4 out of 5. It was pretty good. Thanks for the recipe.

Nicola B.

Looking forward to trying this for next gathering. I'd probably use a sugar alternative. I think it would be neat to dip the small cake squares into a chocolate that hardens.

James V.

Can you use homemade almond flour? Or is that too coarse?

April D.

James - I would recommend sticking to pre-ground almond flour, as the irregular texture of homemade almond flour is not guaranteed to deliver the remarkably light texture of this dish. However, if homemade is your only option, be sure to sift it through a fine-mesh strainer to separate out any larger granules.
- The Milk Street Team

Marian L.

Loved the Italian chocolate cake. Did not like dusting it. Have made it 3 times,

Ralph B.

We wanted to like this but found it somewhere between a brownie and chocolate cake but not as good as either. We felt guilty throwing it away but decided it wasn't worth the calories. We agree with the previous comment that the cocoa dusting is not good.

Patricia B.

Can you make this the day before? If so, what is the best way to store it?

Lynn C.

Hi Patricia -

You should be able to make this the day before. If it's only 1 day before you can store it at room temperature covered loosely with plastic wrap. Don't dust with cocoa until right before serving.

Best,
The Milk Street Team

Merritt J.

I made it and it was wonderful! loved all the flavors and the texture. The edge had a bit of caramel taste. It will be the chocolate entry in my Easter Parade this year!


Down arrow

Italian Flourless Chocolate Torta

Get Ready to Cook

8 to 10

Servings

1 hour

30 minutes active, plus cooling

Tip

Don’t use natural cocoa. The recipe will still work, but the cake will be lighter in color and not quite as deep in flavor as when made with Dutch-processed cocoa. Take care not to overbake the cake. Remove it from the oven when a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few sticky crumbs clinging to it. After 30 to 45 minutes of cooling, the cake is inverted out of the pan; don’t worry about re-inverting it. True torta Barozzi is left upside-down for cutting and serving; we do the same with ours.

Ingredients
  • 141

    grams (10 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 10 pieces, plus more for the pan

  • 6

    ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

  • 20

    grams (¼ cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus more for dusting

  • 1

    tablespoon instant espresso powder

  • 4

    large eggs, separated, room temperature

  • 160

    grams (¾ cup) white sugar, divided

  • 100

    grams (1 cup) almond flour

  • ½

    teaspoon table salt

  • 3

    tablespoons dark rum

Step 1 of 6

Preheat Oven

Salted butter

Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Butter an 8-inch square pan, line the bottom with a parchment square and butter the parchment.

Step 2 of 6

Melt butter

141
grams (10 tablespoons) salted butter, cut into 10 pieces, plus more for the pan
6
ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
20
grams (¼ cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1
tablespoon instant espresso powder

In a medium saucepan over medium, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, cocoa and espresso powder. Let stand for a few minutes to allow the chocolate to soften, then whisk until the mixture is smooth; cool until barely warm to the touch.

Step 3 of 6

Whisk Egg Yolks

4
large eggs, separated, room temperature
107
grams white sugar
100
grams (1 cup) almond flour
½
teaspoon table salt
3
tablespoons dark rum

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks and 107 grams (½ cup) of the sugar until lightened and creamy, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until homogeneous. Add the almond flour and salt, then whisk until fully incorporated. Whisk in the rum; set aside.

Step 4 of 6

Whip Egg Whites

4
large eggs, separated, room temperature
53
grams (¾ cup) white sugar, divided

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining 53 grams (¼ cup) sugar, then beat until the whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Add about a third of the whipped whites to the yolk-chocolate mixture and fold with a silicone spatula to lighten and loosen the base. Scrape in the remaining whites and gently fold them into the batter until no streaks remain. Transfer to the prepared pan and gently shake or tilt the pan to level the batter.

Step 5 of 6

Bake The Cake

Bake until the cake is slightly domed and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 to 45 minutes; the cake will deflate slightly as it cools.

Step 6 of 6

Loosen The Cake

Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Run a paring knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert onto a platter; if needed, peel off and discard the parchment. Cool completely. Dust with cocoa before serving.

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Done!

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