Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tiny Chocolate Tortes for Easter or Passover Dessert--Tortino di Cioccolato

Folding in the egg whites could be a new skill.

There's just something about individual desserts that make people hop around.   Think how big cupcakes have been.  How big donuts are now.  Creme brulee, ice cream sundaes, cookies.  Whatever's for one seems to be "in."  Or fun.  If you have an invite for Easter or Passover ( try -ahead- using ground almonds instead of bread crumbs to avoid leavened bread) and just have to bring dessert-lucky you-, you might want to try this little ditty I made from MY BREAD by Jim Lahey.  This is the book with the wonderful No-Knead bread recipe made famous by Mark Bittman in the NYT.  In fact, we visited that recipe right here in the blog not long ago.
Remember this?

I adore any light end to a big meal that is chocolatey without being chocolatey.  Tortino di Cioccolato (practice saying this so you sound great) is, without doubt,  bowl-scraping scrumptious and I gilded the lily by added a bit of Haagen Daz (5 ingredient) Vanilla Ice cream (not too much) and a squiggle of hot fudge (not too much again.)  You could, instead, add a tiny dump of whipped cream or creme fraiche.
Even a dab of sour cream and a few tiny berries.  Just don't lose the simplicity of taste in this dessert. 

Or Chocolate Torte  (Recipe by Jim Lahey with Alyce's twists.)
I literally took a page out of Mr. Lahey's book.

  • 1 stick or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold is ok)
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped coarsely (I used a 4oz bar of Ghirarddelli**)
  • 1 cup plus 1 T (this is divided in use; careful)
  • 4 eggs, separated (make sure they're at room temp)
  • 1/4 c fine dry (plain, unseasoned) breadcrumbs (homemade if possible-start a day ahead*)
  • Pinch of table salt
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In a small saucepan over low heat (or in a bowl in the microwave), melt the butter.  Combine the chocolate with 2/3 cup plus 1 T of the sugar (you'll use the rest beating egg whites) in a medium bowl, add the hot melted butter, and stir a few times.  Let sit for 3 or 4 minutes to melt the chocolate, then stir until smooth.  (My chocolate would not melt; I had to put my pot on the stove and let it melt over low heat.  If you chop the chocolate finer, I think Mr Lahey's method might work. )
  3. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.  Mix in the bread crumbs very thoroughly.
  4. Put the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a medium bowl if you're using a hand mixer.  Whip at medium speed until the whites are foamy, then reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add in the REMAINING 1/3 CUP OF SUGAR.  Raise the speed to medium and continue whipping until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks (if they become too clumpy or dry, they're overwhipped; dump them and start over with new egg whites.)  Use a rubber spatula or whisk to fold a large scoop of the meringue into the chocolate mixture until incorporated (this will lighten it up), then gently fold in the remaining meringue.
  5. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. (Or lightly butter oven safe coffee cups, custard cups, bowls or ramekins--these will take longer to bake.) Fill each cup approximately 3/4 full.  Bake the tortini for about 10 minutes until they are puffed up and just set in the middle.  Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack.  The tortini will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for three days.
  6. If you use baking dishes, it may take 20 - 30 minutes.  Also, these are full of uncooked egg whites.  I like to make sure they're done in case I am serving the young, the old or those with impaired immune systems.  
Serve with a bit of whipped cream, ice cream, (nondairy whipped topping or nondiary sour cream if you're eating meat at Passover), hot fudge or berries.   Makes 12 small, 8 very generous servings -- or you can bake it all in a pan, though Mr. Lahey says it doesn't cut well.  

**You can choose Valrhona ( I like this French chocolate; I was out of it.) or even American Baker's Semi-Sweet --don't use chocolate chips unless you're desperate.) 

These are underdone and runny inside.
I liked them with this great crust on top and tender inside. Use a small spoon!
Have fun baking for an occasion and taking care of yourself (and others),

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