Unfussy Fare

Chocolate Almond Torte


I am the edgy one in my family. The moody one. The one most likely to say something caustic and regrettable. Somehow I managed to marry a kind and reasonable man. We went on to have a kind and reasonable son. Even our dog, Edna, is kind and reasonable. In my dark and snarky moments, they all three look at me with good-hearted concern, wondering how they can help. It’s infuriating.

On a good day I like to think I just have a lively temperament. My prickly side is balanced by a sense of humor and boundless loyalty and affection. On a bad day, I think I’m a nasty little troll, profoundly undeserving of the gentle sweetness that surrounds me. Regardless of how I feel about it, it seems I’m stuck with myself.

Fortunately, my family raises the bar on my behavior. Tenderness towards them inspires me, increasingly, to zip my mouth when I’m in a mood. (Um, I haven”t perfected that part just yet…) I’ve also learned that energy gets barbed without an outlet, and I have deep reserviors of energy. Cooking gives that energy something to do with itself. Chopping, washing, stirring, and sifting have a calming effect on me.

We all have to eat. That’s one impetus for cooking. Then there’s my endless fascination with the flavors and textures and colors of food. But the real driving force behind my cooking is love. Obviously, I get to eat the goodies, too. My motives aren’t all altruistic. Still, it”s safe to say that preparing food makes me a nicer person.

Cooking doesn’t make me any less mercurial, but it can be a balm. Each meal is a small, daily gesture of thanks for all the love and forbearance.  Even Edna wins. I offer her little bites, which she takes gently from my hand.

So there you have it. I’m not the sweetest person in the world, or even in my house. But I try to make amends. Can I offer you some cake? This rustic torte is a pure and simple homage to chocolate and almonds. It’s nothing but nuts and chocolate gently held together with sugar, egg whites, and air. It’s nubby, light, and altogether spectacular. The recipe was adapted from one in Pure Dessert, by Alice Medrich.


12 servings

1 cup (5 ounces) unsalted, unblanched whole almonds.
7 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, broken into big pieces (no need to chop)
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 large egg whites (about one cup), room temperature

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nine-inch springform cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Combine the almonds, chocolate, ½ cup of sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the almonds and chocolate are very finely chopped but not completely pulverized. Set aside.

Beat egg whites with remaining ¼ cup sugar until stiff peaks form when the beaters are lifted.

Gently fold one third of the nut mixture into the egg whites until just incorporated. Repeat with another third of the nut mixture, then once more with the last third.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, or with just a little melted chocolate, about 30-35 minutes.

Cool cake completely and remove from pan. Cover or wrap tightly, and store for up to 3 days at room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.


26 Responses to “Chocolate Almond Torte”

  1. Chuck Norman says:

    Looks and sounds great. I’ll try it over the holiday weekend. From your photos, it looks like it has a great texture. I am trying to cut down on products containing glutten, so this will be a nice touch.

    Is it too rich for a spoonful of ice cream or some whipped cream?


  2. Melynda says:

    Oh my gosh, thanks for sharing this recipe, I MUST make it soon!

  3. BethieofVA says:

    New addition to the Thanksgiving day table! Thank you so much!! Looks heavenly…..

  4. Gillian says:

    Chuck: The texture is fantastic. I’m not wild about really dense chocolate tortes. This one is more to my liking, nutty and airy. I don’t think it’s too rich for a dollop of whipped cream.

    Melynda and Bethie: I hope you enjoy it! If you like almonds and chocolate, you can’t go wrong. I’ve considered trying it with hazelnuts, but they have those papery skins that are hard to remove, and I’m not sure what would happen with them if I baked them into the cake.

  5. Melissa Chitwood says:

    I will be making this cake and I loved what you had to say. It sounds like my household except for two dogs Groke and Snifkin.

    -Living in New york but also from Oregon.

  6. Bonnie says:

    This looks fabulous. I will be trying it soon. By Unblanched Almonds, you mean with the skins on, correct?

  7. hungry dog says:

    Looks divine. I really like this post, it’s so interesting to get a glimpse into someone’s life, and why they love to cook. Lucky for you to have such a kind and reasonable husband, son, and dog. Sweet Edna!

  8. Gillian says:

    Melissa: Glad to hear I’m not alone. I hope you like the cake. Too bad for Groke and Snifkin that it’s chocolate. Edna ate an almond…

    Bonnie: Yes, by unblanched I mean with the skins on. The original recipe says “blanched or unblanched,” so I guess it doesn’t matter. I’ve only tried it with unblanched, and I love it.

    Hungry: Thank you. I have moments of wondering if I’ve revealed too much. Blogging is new to me…And yes, I am lucky indeed to have such a kind and reasonable family. Edna is just plain sweetness on four legs, as dogs usually are. Dogs are even better than food for bringing out the best in their two-legged friends.

  9. I am trying this most definitely!

  10. Chocolate and almond are a match made in heaven!

  11. esme says:

    Okay, I guess I have to cook now….being the feisty one in my household. Also guess we have to get a dog. Thanks Gil.xx

  12. Gillian says:

    Morta & Chocolate – Enjoy!

    Esme – You don’t have to cook. We feisties just need to channel our feistiness somewhere – and you have your art and gardening and etc. And a dog, well, only good can come from that. Love you. Happy Thanksgiving.

  13. I describing yourself you have described me! I’m the prickly one in the family. I’m gonna need this cake then and lots more like it to smooth things over with the family and make them think I’m worth hanging on to :-)

  14. Gillian says:

    Wizzy: Well that’s a relief. I was hoping I wasn’t the only slightly testy mommy in the world. Perhaps I’m the only one who chooses to out herself on a recipe blog. Until now, that is. Love your blog!

  15. I just made this. I used X-large eggs and its kind of eggy and I forgot to add the salt! DOH! you think it will still be good? I can’t try it. i am bringing it to an event. i may have to make something else :-( ((

  16. Gillian says:

    Hi Morta DiFame: It’s such a small amount of salt, I’m sure it’ll be fine. You could even put the tiniest bit of salt into the powdered sugar before you sprinkle it on.

    You used just the egg whites, right? I’m sure it will be fine. It’s all about the nuts and chocolate. Let me know how it tastes!

  17. Tried it even after the mishaps above. I put sea salt on top then covered it with powdered sugar. It was excellent, but since I cut into it I had to make another one, this time I think I nailed it. I used 5 xl egg yokes instead of the 7, too. Can’t wait to serve it tomorrow! Thanks so much for this recipe! I love it!

  18. Gillian says:

    Hi Morta: Whew! I’m glad it worked out. Maybe it’s not so bad to have one cake for yourself and one for the party? You inspired me to be more specific detail in my instructions (about one cup of egg whites, so people don’t have to worry about how many eggs, since they vary so much in size).

  19. Tara says:

    love you, gillian.

  20. ReNi says:

    Looks great! I think I’ve made such a torte in the past.. Ah yes, was a bit different (with cream cheese and cowberries on top). I’m gonna try this one though, thanks for the recipe!

  21. Gillian says:

    ReNi: What’s a cowberry? Thanks for reading. Hope you like the torte.

  22. Kate says:

    Oooo, I made this last night for a holiday party where there were a lot of people who have gluten-free diets. Not only did they attack the cake, but the rest of the people discovered it and cleaned it out. I barely managed to get the last piece. This is a GREAT cake. Love, The Troll

  23. Gillian says:

    Dear Troll: I’m so glad it was a hit. It’s my new favorite cake. May it reign for a good long while. And make me very popular with the gluten-free set…

  24. Hi! This torte looks incredible! I’m thinking about making it today or tomorrow, but I don’t have whole almonds. I have almond meal, which is already ground. Do you think it’d be okay if I used the almond meal? And if so, how much? About 3/4 cup?

    Thanks so much!

  25. [...] Source: adapted from Unfussy Fare [...]

  26. Gillian says:

    Oops. I’ve been neglecting my blog, as you can see. I’d think almond meal would be delicious, but would make for a very different texture. More dense. Did you try it?

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