This White Chocolate Cake Has a Surprising (Erm, Leafy) Ingredient

February 27, 2018

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.

It's intriguing, that's for sure. Photo by Emiko Davies

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.

Tessa Kiros' Radicchio cake with white chocolate glaze Photo by Emiko Davies

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.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

The Australian-Japanese cookbook author has lived in Florence (where a visit to a cheese farm once inspired her to start a food blog) for over 10 years with her Tuscan sommelier husband and two kids. Her third cookbook, Tortellini at Midnight, is out now.


HA February 27, 2018
Can almond flour be subbed in for all purpose flour to make this cake gluten free? It sounds delicious, and I would love to be able to share it with my gluten-sensitive friends :)
Emiko February 28, 2018
I think it would be lovely with almond flour. Actually the original, traditional radicchio cake from Chioggia is often made with hazelnut flour (or a mixture, half regular wheat flour, half hazelnut flour), the nuttiness adds great character to the cake and goes well with the radicchio!