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Vegetables in cakes. We love them. Maybe because it feels ingenious and healthy, in addition to being delicious—not just classics like carrots and zucchini, but even potatos and parsnips and beets. Each vegetable tends to lend texture rather than flavor.
Now let's consider radicchio, that crunchy, slightly bitter, leafy salad vegetable with deep reddish-pink leaves. It adds moisture and bulk, and most of all, intrigue—you should see people's faces when you first offer them a slice of radicchio cake. Like so many traditional Italian recipes, this was probably invented as a way to use up an excess amount of radicchio.
Leave it to Tessa Kiros to introduce the rest of the world to this humble cake from Chioggia, a small Italian town south of Venice, known for its radicchio. This "torta di radicchio" recipe comes from her 2012 cookbook Limoncello and Linen Water, a beautiful book dedicated to her Tuscan mother-in-law and to all Italian grandmothers who keep special secrets in the kitchen.
Kiros, never one to be afraid to to make a small adaption to a classic (even an Italian classic), adds her own touch to the cake—a simple but elegant swirl of melted white chocolate over the top of the cake. Like most of her special touches, it's a flavor pairing that works beautifully—sweet, creamy white chocolate with ever-so-slightly bitter radicchio in a moist, not-too-sweet cake. It's a beauty.
- 1 stick (100 grams) softened butter, divided
- 2/3 cup (125 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 5 ounces (150 grams) head of Radicchio di chioggia (round red radicchio)
- 3 eggs
- 1 pinch grated nutmeg (preferably freshly grated from a whole nutmeg rather than pre-ground)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (125 grams) all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 5 ounces (150 grams) white chocolate, in pieces