The flavors of fragrant olive oil, dark chocolate, and nuance of orange in this otherwise classic chocolate torte will surprise and delight you. The flavor and texture of the torte improve with time, so this is a perfect dessert to make a day ahead. A California olio nuovo would be a fine choice starting in late October or November when they are available.
You'll need a 8x3 inch spring form or pan with a removable bottom for this recipe. —Alice Medrich
medium bright-skinned orange, preferably organic and unsprayed
(150 grams) sugar, divided
large eggs, separated and at room temperature
cream of tartar
A pinch or two of flakey sea salt such as fleur de sel or Maldon
Additional olive oil, for drizzling
In This Recipe
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease only the bottom of an 8x3 inch spring form or pan with a removable bottom.
If using whole almonds, pulse them in a food processor with the all-purpose flour until the almonds are finely ground. Otherwise simply whisk the almond flour and all-purpose flour together and set them aside.
Put the chocolate, olive oil, and salt in a large stainless steel bowl in a wide skillet of almost simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is almost entirely melted. Remove the bowl from the skillet and stir until the chocolate is entirely melted and smooth. Using a fine microplane zester, grate a little over half of the orange skin directly into the bowl. (Reserve the orange for topping the cake). Whisk in the egg yolks and 1/2 cup (100 grams) of the sugar. Set aside.
In a clean dry bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat at high speed (or medium-high speed in a heavy-duty mixer) until the egg whites are stiff but not dry. Use a large rubber spatula to fold one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Scrape the remaining egg whites into the bowl and pour the almond mixture on top. Fold—just until the egg whites and almonds are evenly incorporated into the batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the torte comes out with moist crumbs, 25 to 30 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool.
To serve, slide a slim knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake. Remove the pan sides and transfer the cake to a platter. Sprinkle the top of the torte with a tiny pinch or two of flakey salt—pinching the salt to crush the largest pieces if necessary—and top with a few fine threads of orange zest made with a 5-hole zester and the skin remaining on the orange. Serve each slice with a little drizzle of olive oil. You can pass additional salt and the oil for guests to add themselves, if they like.
My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on Craftsy.com, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).