I’m pretty sure that if Stephen, my Italian-American husband and one true love, had known that every few years his birthday would fall during Passover and he’d have to forgo a traditional cake, he never would’ve married me.
I’m also pretty sure that if he’d known I might produce something like this Flourless Chocolate-Raspberry Torte, he would’ve said “I Do” a million times over.
It’s an adaptation of the Framboise Torte from one of my favorite chocolate cookbooks, Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow. (Yes, I have favorite chocolate cookbooks. Don’t you?) It’s super-moist, pleasantly raspberry-scented, and not at all Passover-y. And I’ll confess, I had a wee bit of trouble with it:
Although I used a 9-inch baking pan as the recipe specified, I had far too much batter. I knew I had far too much batter—it barely fit into the pan—and yet I piled it all in, hoping that somehow it was meant to be this generous. (I blame the recipe, since it didn’t say how full the pan should be.) Not to worry, I’m adjusting the instructions to save you from a similar fate.
So what rescued this sad-looking cake—and Stephen’s birthday—from disaster? Two words: ganache glaze. With a sharp knife, I trimmed the monstrosity into something resembling an actual cake, then wrapped and refrigerated it. A few hours later, I lavished rich, glossy waves of bittersweet chocolate sauce over the top. By the time we finished our kosher-for-Passover celebratory dinner (Polynesian Flank Steak, baked potatoes, and simple Pan-Roasted Carrots), the glaze had set. Harry and I plunked three candles into the soft icing, sang “Happy Birthday,” and Stephen was none the wiser.
One more thing I’m pretty sure of: Julia Child was right when she said, “No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize.”
Flourless Chocolate-Raspberry Torte
Adapted from Pure Chocolate by Fran Bigelow
If you’ve got two bowls for your stand mixer, or a stand mixer and a hand mixer, you’ll save yourself some in-between cleaning.
For the cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
7 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Callebaut callets, as is)
7 ounces thawed frozen raspberries, with juice, or 1 1/4 cups fresh
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
For the glaze:
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Trader Joe’s chips)
Fresh raspberries, for garnish (I didn’t have any, but boy they would’ve looked purdy)
With a rack in the center position, preheat the oven to 350°F. Use a scant tablespoon of the butter to grease a round 9-inch cake pan, then line with a parchment circle.
- In a double-boiler or the microwave, melt the chocolate until small lumps remain, then remove from heat and stir until completely smooth. Add the remaining butter in three parts, stirring until no visible traces remain. The mixture should be glossy and smooth. Set aside to cool while you do the next steps.
- In a food processor, puree the raspberries with 1/2 cup of sugar for 1 minute, then strain and discard the seeds. Set aside.
- In a mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks with 7 tablespoons of the remaining sugar on medium-high speed, then increase to high and whip until light and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes. Fold in the chocolate mixture, followed by the raspberry puree.
- In a second bowl, again with the mixer’s whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed. Increasing the speed and whip until they’re quite frothy, then without stopping the mixer add the remaining sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue whipping until the peaks are stiff but not dry—it should look glossy, with a creamy consistency.
- Fold the almond meal into the chocolate mixture, then lighten it by quickly folding in about a third of the egg whites. Gently fold in the remaining whites in two parts. Try not to lose the volume.
- Spread the mixture into the prepared pan, no more than 2/3 full. If you have excess batter, grease a ramekin or two and consider it a chef’s treat. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, just in case it does overflow.
- Bake for 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. The cake shouldn’t jiggle, but it will still feel fairly soft.
- Let it cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then run a thin knife around the edges and invert onto a cardboard cake circle or tart-pan bottom. Wrap in plastic (yes, while it’s still warm) and refrigerate for several hours, until completely chilled.
- Bring the torte to room temperature, and remove the plastic and parchment round. Trim any uneven edges, and place it on a cooling rack set over wax paper or aluminum foil.
- Make the ganache glaze: Heat the cream until it’s nearly boiling. Place the chocolate in a mixing bowl and pour the cream on top. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then stir until completely blended.
- Carefully pour the ganache around the perimeter of the cake, ensuring that all sides are covered, then pour the rest into the center. Use an offset spatula to spread the glaze evenly over the top. Let the excess drip over the sides. Allow it to set for a few minutes, then use a large offset spatula or cake lifter to transfer the torte to a serving platter. Scrape any excess ganache into a bowl and refrigerate—once solid, you can form little truffle balls, then roll in cocoa powder for an extra, extra treat.
- Store at room temperature for up to 3 days, with cut edges protected.
MAKE BABY FOOD: Technically it’s safe, but I’d wait until your baby’s at least a year old.