Since I started blogging just a few months ago, my biggest newfound challenge hasn’t been the hours baking, or trying to come up with new ideas, or even finding taste testers for all the baked goods. No, my struggle bus is making things look pretty.
I am not a pretty baker. I start off with good intentions, mise en place and all that, but ten minutes after turning on the oven my entire counter looks like a natural disaster has hit it. I also always forget to take photos of my food when dining out, usually because the prettier it looks the faster I want it in my mouth.
But for this blog, I try – oh, do I try. I even tried to make a pretty dessert-licious post dedicated to everyone celebrating Valentine’s Day next weekend. The sad thing is, the first time I made this cake the ganache turned out perfect, but I didn’t have time to take any photos. Then of course the second time I make it the raspberries start oozing and my fingers slip at crucial moments and suddenly there’s two giant fingerprints on my lovely ganache glaze. But I tried – hope that’s worth something!
This wonderful chocolate raspberry torte is a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated via Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. My coworkers declared it the best thing I’ve brought in yet; the recipient of the cake cried when it was presented (it was a farewell party). A torte is a type of layer cake that uses mostly or all nut flour for a dense, almost fudgy crumb, perfectly paired with fresh raspberries and jam filling. Crumbled almond slices make for pretty presentation pressed all around the sides of the cake, though I forgot to toast them like the recipe called for – I suspect toasting would enhance the almond goodness as well as create a beautiful golden color for the garnish.
Whole 9″ cakes always make a splash at a party, whether for a farewell or for the Super Bowl. But sometimes the occasion calls for a smaller, more intimate portion, such as celebrating the love between two people…orrrrr your love for yourself 😉 So that you wouldn’t have to do the work, I’ve scaled down the recipe for the entire cake down to a single/two-person serving mini cake portion, using two 3″ ramekins as makeshift pans.
Mmm, look at that goodness. Now can someone find me a boy to bake for me for once? 😉
Go forth and celebrate the day of love – if not with a significant other, than with anyone you love and who loves you!
Mini Chocolate Raspberry Torte
makes one mini cake (one or two servings)
dairy free/egg free/vegan and gluten free options available
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via Sweet Pea’s Kitchen – follow link for recipe for full-size cake
- 1 tablespoon butter or vegan butter
- 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
- splash of vanilla extract
- pinch of espresso powder
- 1 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (~1/3 oz) almond flour
- 1 teaspoons all-purpose flour, or additional 1 teaspoon almond flour for 2 tablespoons almond flour total (will make for a slightly denser cake)
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of one beaten egg (discard or save the rest to add to your omelette in the morning) or 1/2 tablespoon ground flaxseed + 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon of your favorite raspberry jam – I used sugar free Polaner’s
ganache glaze and garnishes
- 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- approximately 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- 3 raspberries
- Preheat oven to 325F. Grease two 3″ ramekins, cut parchment paper to fit the bottoms (see here for instructions on how to cut perfectly fitting circles every time), then lightly flour the sides of each ramekin. Make sure that the parchment paper lays flat against the bottoms (the oil should help) to avoid any air bubbles making their way into the cake.
- Microwave the butter with the chocolate chips for 30 seconds and whisk with a mini whisk/fork/chopsticks. Add a splash of vanilla and pinch of espresso, then set aside to cool.
- In a separate bowl, mix the almond flour, all-purpose flour, and salt. Make sure to break up any clumps of flour that may stick together, to avoid lumpy unmixed cake batter.
- In a separate bowl, whisk by hand or machine (a mini food processor/chopper also works well here) the half of beaten egg for at least 5 minutes if by hand or at least 3 minutes if by machine until it is frothy, paler in color, and about doubled in volume. Add the sugar and whisk until well combined.
- Add the egg-sugar mixture to the cooled chocolate mixture. Gently fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture. Once the egg mixture is almost fully incorporated, add the flour mixture and continue to gently fold in until everything has just fully combined.
- Divide the cake batter between the two ramekins evenly. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cake has set and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean/with a few moist crumbs. Keep watch and go more by visual cues than by the number of minutes, as baking time may differ depending on your oven as well as the material of your ramekins!
- While the layers are baking, melt the chocolate chips with the oil for the ganache glaze using the microwave and set aside to cool (though if it cools too much and is too stiff to work with, you can just pop it back in the microwave again and reheat). Prepare the other garnishes – thoroughly dry the raspberries to be used for garnish, and break up the sliced almonds into slightly smaller pieces (or if you prefer this aesthetic, you can also just use the whole sliced almonds).
- Once the layers are done baking, allow to cool in the ramekins for a few minutes. Use a knife if needed to loosen the layers around the sides and pop them out. Once the layers are cool, spoon raspberry jam in the center of one layer and top with the other (don’t spread it out; you don’t want the jam to ooze out the sides).
- As most people myself included don’t have a mini Lazy Susan/cake stand, I turned one of the ramekins over for a makeshift cake stand. Use a knife or offset spatula to slather on the ganache, allowing the ganache to drip over and cover the sides. Smooth the top and all around. While the ganache is still wet, take the sliced almond pieces and press against the sides of the cake to cover completely. Garnish with three raspberries in the center of the top.
- Store the cake in an airtight container and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to one day – can probably last for longer, but why would it need to? 😛
Nutritional description: definitely a special occasion dessert, though at least the nut flour adds some nutrients (vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, protein). Thankfully, portion control allows you to have your cake and eat it too.
Nutritional information (calculated for two servings without vegan or gluten free substitutions): Calories 319, Total Fat 24.2g, Saturated Fat 10.2g, Cholesterol 15.3mg, Carbs 28g, Fiber 4.8g, Sugars 18.5g, Protein 2.9g, Sodium 80mg