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Chocolate Torte

For two individual tortes*, you'll need:

+ dark chocolate, 4 ounces
+ butter, 5 tablespoons
+ granulated sugar, 1/3 cup (divided in half)
+ 2 eggs, separated
+ cream of tartar, 1 large pinch (I know, I know...)
+ optional flavoring: the juice of two blood oranges (cognac is a classic flavoring, too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour two large ramekins or two cups of a jumbo muffin tin.

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring constantly. (To be honest, you can do this in a microwave, too. Simply place the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe container and microwave in 15-second increments, stirring between microwave blasts to prevent scorching.) Allow to cool.

Whip egg yolks at half of the sugar together, until mixture is light yellow, voluminous and, when poured from a spoon, creates a wide "ribbon." Set aside. In another (clean) bowl, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar, and continue to beat. When soft peaks form, add the sugar, and beat into stiff peaks.

Gently combine the cooled chocolate mixture. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate, and evenly distribute between ramekins (or muffin tins). Bake for 40-50 minutes. You'll know that they're done when a crust (often with a crack) forms-- it'll settle when the torte cools. If you baked your torte in a muffin tin and plan on removing it, do NOT do so until it is completely cooled.

If you plan on presenting the torte as an elegant dessert at a party, you might want to use a chocolate ganache. However, I served mine with hand-whipped cream (flavored with the juice of a blood orange). Enjoy!

* To make a large torte to serve to a group, triple the ingredients listed above, bake in a 9" spring-form pan, and bake for up to an hour.

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