Vignola – Dense Chocolate Cake (Torta Barozzi)

Torta Barozzi is not just another flourless chocolate cake. It comes with its own sublime flavor, a secret ingredient allegedly known only to the family, and a story to match.

The debate as to the “secret” ingredient in Torta Barozzi has dominated local chefs and dinner parties in Modena for decades. The cake was created in 1897 to commemorate the birthday of native son and Renaissance architect Jacopo Barozzi (you know, the guy who invented the spiral staircas)e. Ever since, it has been the gold standard for all cakes from the region. One bite of this moist and fudgy masterpiece and guests will surely break out into a raging debate as to what the secret ingredient is. Spoiler alert, the box lists it as peanut butter, but that won’t deter a good debate in Italy.

Torta Barozzi – Dense Chocolate Cake

This cake is a true show-stopper. Its deep chocolate flavors with notes of coffee and peanuts make it a unique experience for every diner. Using the best ingredients, proper equipment, and following the recipe carefully are important with this one. Serve at room temperature in small wedges after a rich meal. A dollop of whipped cream never hurts.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian, Northern Italy
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Servings: 8
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Springform pan, parchment paper
  • Electric mixer with paddle attachment
  • Bakers rack

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Blanched almonds, toasted
  • 3 tbsp Confectioner's sugar
  • 4 tbsp Cocoa (not Dutch process)
  • 8 tbsp Unsalted butter at room temperature (+1½ tbsp for greasing pan)
  • 3 tbsp All-purpose flour, unbleached
  • ½ cup Sugar, + 2 tbsp (4 oz total)
  • 4 tbsp Smooth peanut butter
  • 4 large Eggs, separated
  • oz Bittersweet chocolate, melted in microwave
  • ½ oz Unsweetened chocolate, melted in microwave
  • tbsp Espresso coffee granules, dissolved with 1 tbsp hot water
  • tsp Dark rum
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Make Almond Powder – Combine almonds, 2 tbsp confectioners' sugar, and 3 tbsp cocoa in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are a fine powder.
  • Blending the Batter – Butter bottom and sides of a springform pan with 1 tbsp butter. Cut a circle of parchment to fit bottom of pan. Lay paper on bottom and butter it with ½ tbsp butter. Flour complete insides of springform pan and shake out any excess.
    Set oven rack to center of oven. Preheat to 375°F (190°C).
    Beat butter and sugar for 8-10 minutes at medium speed in an electric mixer with paddle attachment. Beat in peanut butter. Add egg yolks 1 at a time until smooth. Reduce speed to medium-low and mix in melted chocolates, dissolved coffee, rum, and vanilla. Scoop into bowl and gently fold almond powder into the bowl by hand.
    Clean and dry mixer bowl and reattach with wire whisk attachment. Whip egg white to stiff peaks. Lighten chocolate batter with ¼ cup whipped egg whites gently folded in. Then fold the rest of the egg whites in keeping the mixture light but not leaving any white streaks.
  • Baking the Cake – Turn the batter into the baking pan, smoothing the top. Bake 30 minutes then reduce heat to 325°F (165°C) and cook another 15 to 20 minutes. It should have puffed about ⅔ of the way up the sides of the pan. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes.
    Put a kitchen towel on a large plate, then turn the cake over onto it. Remove sides of pan and peel of parchment paper. Let cool completely and place a flat serving plate on top. Holding 2 plates together, flip cake over so the top of the cake is back on top.
  • Serving – Sift 1 tbsp cocoa over cake. Sift remaining confectioner's sugar over top. I
  • If you want to get fancy, cutout a "B" stencil (for Barozzi, or any initial you desire) out of stiff paper. Dust top of cake with confectioners sugar and remove stencil carefully after sugar settles. Serve small slices at room temperature.

Notes

  • Cake can served with a dollop whipped cream.

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