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Easy Chocolate Pecan Torte

4 Jan

Recipe courtesy of Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts 

1 cup raw pecans 
2 tblsp all-purpose flour 
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (66 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped 
8 tblsp unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into chunks 
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
Generous 1/8 tsp salt 
4 cold large eggs 

Serves 10-12

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with butter. Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake them for 7-10 minutes, stirring them once or twice, until they are toasted and fragrant. Scrape the nuts onto a plate and let them cool completely. Increase the oven temperature to 375. Once the nuts have cooled, pulse the pecans and the flour in the food processor until finely ground. 
2. Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl, over a pot of simmering water, and stir occasionally until nearly melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir the chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth. 
3. Transfer the chocolate into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat in the butter, granulated sugar, and salt until the butter is completely melted and the mixture thickens and lightens slightly in color. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat at medium-high speed for a minute or two, or until the batter is fluffy and lightened in color. Stir in the pecan mixture. 
4. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted about 1.5 inches from the side of the pan comes out clean. The center will still be gooey. 
5. Set the pan on a rack to cool. Slide a thin knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake and allow the thin crust on top to sink (slightly) as the cake cools. Let cool completely and remove from the pan. Garnish with powdered sugar or whipped cream, if desired. The torte can be kept covered at room temperature for at least 3 days, or frozen, well-wrapped for 3 months.

I am well aware that this luxurious chocolate-pecan torte recipe comes to you at the beginning of “clean eating” month. In January, many of us embark upon kale juice cleanses and grueling gym workouts in an effort to start the new year on the right foot. But this is a baking blog after all, and I could not wait to share this decadent, sinfully easy dessert. 

You only need seven ingredients to throw this torte together. You could substitute hazelnuts or walnuts for pecans and omit the flour for a gluten-free version. The exterior surface crackles just barely after baking, contrasting well with the moist, but not sticky interior. My problem with so many chocolate tortes is their uniformity of flavor and denseness. This cake hit all the right notes: chocolatey but with depth of flavor from the pecans, and sturdy but not dry. It is definitely a crowd pleaser; my family members enthusiastically declared it one of the best baked goods I have ever made. Major score! 

I recommend preparing the cake a day prior to serving it as the extra time enhances its richness. I enjoyed my piece plain, a chocolate purist, but vanilla bean ice cream or freshly whipped cream would complement it beautifully.


Linzer Blitz Torte and a Bookstore for Foodies

24 Nov

Every home baker knows the agony of choosing the right recipe. You scour your cookbook collection, search the archives of your favorite blogs, and ponder back and forth until you’re thoroughly exhausted. I often wish for one trustworthy source where I can find simple, sophisticated desserts for every occasion. I found just the thing I was looking for last weekend at Omnivore Books in San Francisco. 

Hundreds of books about food and drink line the shelves of Omnivore Books in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood. I could spend an entire day in there, drooling over photos, fantasizing about restaurants and bakeries I want to visit, mentally marking all the recipes I want to make. There are vintage cookbooks with torn spines and retro covers, cookbooks in foreign languages, and cookbooks signed by chefs and bloggers. 

I went to Omnivore without a particular book in mind, but knew I wanted to purchase one as a souvenir. I asked an employee for a recommendation and she suggested Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich. Medrich, author of the highly acclaimed Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy, filled this book with quick, effortlessly elegant recipes. After flipping through the first few pages, I knew this was the perfect book for me: a girl who loves to bake refined desserts but doesn’t have time to spend hours poring over the kitchen counter. 

Every item in this book appealed to me, but I chose two cold-weather options to bring to my family’s Thanksgiving celebration. One of them was this Linzer Blitz Torte made with a buttery, almond crust, layered with raspberry preserves, and spiced with fragrant ground cloves and cinnamon. This torte was easy to put together, delicious, and beautiful- one of the best baked goods I have ever made. You could replace the raspberry preserves with apricot, lemon, or fig jam; the dough would complement whichever fruit you prefer. I received rave reviews from everyone who tried it, and am thrilled that my pursuit for a go-to recipe source is over. If you are a Northern California native or in SF for a few days, definitely stop by at Omnivore Books. It is a quaint, charming shop chock full of wonderful foodie finds. 

Recipe courtesy of Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts

3/4 cup whole raw almonds or hazelnuts, or a combination 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup granulated sugar 
1/4 tsp salt 
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp ground cloves 
11 tblsp unsalted butter, cut into chunks and slightly softened 
1 large egg yolk 
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon 
Grated zest of 1/2 orange 
1/4 tsp pure almond extract 
2/3 cup raspberry or blackberry preserves 

1. Combine the almonds, flour, granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in the food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground. Add the butter, egg yolk, grated lemon and orange zests, and almond extract and process until the dough comes together. Scrape the butter from the bottom of the processor to help distribute evenly. 
2. Measure 1/4 cup of the dough and shape it into a ball. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it. Grease the sides of a 9 x 2″ cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Press the remaining dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. 
3. To bake the torte, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the preserves evenly over the dough, leaving a scant 1/2-inch border all around. Using the largest holes of a grater, grate the chilled reserved dough over the jam (or cut the dough into matchsticks and scatter them over the jam). 
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Tent the torte loosely with foil and bake for 10-15 minutes longer, until it is a deep golden brown. 
5. Cool the torte in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides to release the torte. Let it cool completely. Invert the torte onto a plate and serve sprinkled with powdered sugar, if desired. 

Omnivore Books On Food 
3885 Cesar Chavez St. 
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 282 4712 
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Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, 12 – 5 p.m.