When I was 21, I spent a semester in Florence, Italy. I ate my way through the country. Literally. Then I spent 2 more months eating my way through the rest of Europe. You think I’m joking. My 5″2 frame gained somewhere between 25-30 pounds (and that’s with walking miles everyday).
I had a partner in crime to eat with. I met Julia the first night in Rome. We were roommates during orientation where I was sick from the moment I awoke the first morning in the country, to the time we left for Florence several days later. I never saw Rome in the light of day. BUT Julia and I became close and quickly (after I recovered) started our love affair with Italian food.
We spent our days going from gelateria to cafe to restaurant to bakery and around again. It was before gluten and dairy free life for me, although I do recall the pains and the conscious decision I made to go from 3 gelati a day down to 1 gelato and 1 sorbetto (yes, seriously). While in Italy I took 4 classes. Instead of the 4th literature class I was supposed to take, I took a cooking class: Regional Italian Cooking. Oh boy. The other girls in my class didn’t like the idea of oil, getting their hands dirty, or eating carbs, so I took on enough for us all. I often brought home their portions and shared with Julia (if they lasted all the way home).
One of the treats I made in my cooking class was Torta di Cioccolato from the Lombardy Region. This recipe is in my chicken scratch writing: our instructor must have rattled it off from his mind while we prepped. I took a big slice of it to Julia’s apartment, but I recall nibbling piece by piece as I walked through the city streets. I was almost to her apartment before I realized there was only 1 bite left. With all the willpower I could muster, I left that 1 small bite.
This recipe is naturally gluten free once I substituted the white flour for the rice flour and it’s the most basic of “flourless” chocolate tortes. Since it’s such a miniscule amount of flour, any gluten free flour product would do. Success. Fool proof. Torta di Cioccolato. I think of Julia as I eat this and wish I could send her more than a bite this time.
Flourless Chocolate Torte
7 ounces good quality dark chocolate (I prefer 70-80% or a combination)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (earth balance)
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons sweet white rice flour plus some for dusting the pan (I used tapioca starch the 2nd time with equal results)
Preheat oven to 275. Butter and “flour” a 12 inch round pie pan.
Melt the chocolate and butter on the stove over low heat. Stir frequently. Mix the yolks, sugar, and rice flour in a bowl. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the yolk mixture and mix thoroughly.
Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites with a spatula. Pour mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Compared to the first version I made on this blog, this is a much more traditional recipe. It’s denser and only about 1 1/2-2 inches thick. I like this at room temperature with a small sprinkle of powdered sugar.