This Dark Chocolate Torte, made famous by the Italians, combines ground almonds with rich, dark chocolate resulting in an elegant and indulgent chocolate cake. Incredibly simple to make, this gluten-free chocolate torte recipe will become your go-to recipe.
My favourite thing about this flourless chocolate torte is its simplicity. A single layer of joyful baking done right. No need for multiple layers, bells and whistles of buttercream piping and shards of brittle. This cake wins on all accounts.
The ground almonds add the perfect texture and crumb yet due to their natural oils they add to the moist nature of the cake. In addition, the cake is leavened by the egg whites alone, resulting in a surprisingly light cake. This chocolate torte is rich yet not as over powering as other flourless cakes. It’s best served with a dollop of thickened cream but stands well on its own too.
What’s the difference between a cake and torte?
The main difference between the two is the ingredients used. A standard cake will include the usual suspects of butter, sugar, eggs and flour. As the cake has flour the adds to the hight of the cake.
A torte on the other hand will have little to no flour in the recipe and will include ground nuts, in this case, ground almonds as a replacement for the flour. The result is a much smaller cake in height that’s denser and richer than a sponge cake. A flourless chocolate torte recipe will either include a simple dusting of cocoa or add chocolate ganache or whipped cream as decoration. One of my favourites from Austria is the Sacher Torte, it's such an elegant dessert.
My biggest recommendation with simple cakes is to use the best quality ingredients that you can. You’ll taste the difference when you use the best dark chocolate you can afford in your Dark Chocolate Torte.
- Chocolate: I prefer a 70% chocolate as it’s dark but not too bitter. It holds a nice balance of richness that pairs well with the almonds.
- Butter: As with all baked goods, butter adds flavour but also moisture to this cake. I prefer to use unsalted rather than salted butter to then control the amount of salt that I add to the torte. However, if you prefer salted butter then omit the salt in the recipe.
- Amaretto: This is an optional ingredient but one that adds SO much extra flavour. Amaretto is an almond flavoured liqueur and adding a couple of tablespoons to the batter intensifies and lifts the almond flavour. That being said, if you decide not to include it then replace the liqueur with 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and you will still have a beautiful tasting cake
- Eggs: These get separated and added at different times. The yolks are firstly whipped with sugar until thick and the chocolate, butter and dry ingredients added and mixed through. Whipped egg whites are then folded gently through resulting in an aerated batter. The egg whites are the only leavening agent in the batter and create the unexpected lightness to this torte.
- Sugar: Adds the obvious sweetness but also helps in texture and structure of the torte
- Almond Meal (ground almonds): Along with the chocolate, the almond meal is the hero of this cake. They add moisture but also provide a beautiful texture to the crumb of the torte.
- Cocoa Powder: Some recipes don’t call for cocoa powder in the recipe, but I like to add just a little. It helps to intensify that beautiful chocolate flavour.
- Salt: An absolute necessity when baking. It aids in cutting through the sweetness of the cake and intensifies the chocolate flavour.
How to make a dark chocolate torte
I’ve taken step by step process shots and made notes below referring to each image.
1. Prepare the pan and melt chocolate and butter. Grease and line a 20 cm (8 inch) springform tin. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bain marie (heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water). Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter have melted. Remove from the heat and if using, add in the Amaretto and stir to combine. Set aside to cool whilst preparing the next step.
2. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg yolks and half the sugar until thick and pale and a ribbon forms when the beaters are lifted.
3. Add the ground almonds, cocoa powder and salt into the melted chocolate and mix to combine.
4 + 5. Pour the chocolate mixture into the whipped egg yolks and stir together.
5. See previous step.
6. Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add in the sugar. Continue to whip until firm peaks form.
7. Add ¼ of the whipped egg whites to the chocolate mix and fold through. This will help loosen the batter making it easier to fold through the rest of the whites. Add the remaining egg whites and gently fold through ensuring that you don’t knock out the excess air from the whites.
8. Pour chocolate mixture into the prepared pan.
9. Level with an offset spatular
10. Bake in your pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes. To get that fudge interior, the chocolate torte is ready when a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with moistened crumbs on it.
- Cool the chocolate mixture before adding it to the egg yolks. You don’t want the heat of the chocolate to scramble any part of the eggs.
- Whip the yolks and then the egg whites well to aerate them as they are the primary leavened in the cake.
- Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture carefully. We don’t want to knock out all the air you have taken time putting in.
Frequently asked questions
What if I can’t find almond meal (ground almonds)?
Ground almonds can be made at home if you have a food processor. Made using almonds with their skins on, if you have blanched almonds you will have equal success!
Place almonds in the the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until finely ground, kind of like wet sand. You want to be able to feel the grains between your fingers. If you take this stage too far you’ll end up with almond butter, so take care. Not ideal!!
Is this Dark Chocolate Torte gluten-free?
Actually- yes it us! There is zero flour added into this recipe making this totally gluten-free.
Why are there cracks in the top?
This is one hundred percent normal. Don’t worry. The heat of the oven and the volume created by the whipped egg whites causes the cake to puff up. When removed from the oven the cake can collapse a little causing cracks to appear.
How do I know if it is baked correctly?
You’ll know as the top developes a crisp crust and the edges have risen and set. Test for doneness with a toothpick. Insert it into the centre and if it comes out with a few moist crumbs then this is perfect. If it comes out with wet batter then bake for a further five minutes.
Do I have to dust it with cocoa powder?
Absolutely not. Alternatively you can dust it with powdered icing sugar (confectioners’ sugar). Rather than the bitter notes that cocoa powder add, the powdered icing sugar creates a lovely sweet layer on the top.
What can I serve with my Dark Chocolate Torte?
My personal favourite is to serve a slice with thickened cream. I don’t sweeten the cream as I prefer it plain to cut through the richness of the cake. You can add fresh berries on the side too. I would go raspberries or cherries!
Can I make this in advance?
Yes, absolutely. In actual fact it tastes better the next day and the flavours mature and intensify. Check out my note below on how to store it if you do make it ahead of time.
How to store
Let the torte cool completely and wrap well in plastic wrap. The torte can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Leave the torte to come to room temperature before serving.
Can I freeze?
This cake freezes really well. Allow it to cool completely and wrap in a piece of parchment paper then place in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw place overnight in the refrigerator. Leave the torte to come to room temperature before serving.
For more delicious chocolate recipes, try out the following:
Dark Chocolate Torte Recipe
- Springform pan 20cm (8-inch)
- Offset spatula
- 150 g dark chocolate 70%, coarsely chopped
- 150 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 30 ml Amaretto, almond liqueur
- 150 g almond meal, ground almonds
- 10 g cocoa powder, unsweetened
- ¼ tsp fine salt
- 4 large eggs
- 150 g granulated sugar, divided
- Grease and line with parchment paper, the base and sides of a 20 cm (8-inch) springform tin or cake pan with removable base. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Add the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, ensuring the base doesn’t touch the water. Stirring occasionally, heat until the chocolate and butter have melted completely. Remove from the heat, stir in the Amaretto and set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add in the egg yolks and half of the sugar and beat on medium to high speed until thick and pale, and the mixture forms a ribbon when the whisk is lifted. (Alternatively, use electric hand-held beaters.)
- Into the melted chocolate, add in the ground almonds, cocoa powder and salt and mix to combine.
- In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a clean and dry whisk attachment, add in the egg whites and whip on medium until soft peaks form. With the whisk still running, add in the sugar slowly and whip until stiff peaks form.
- Spoon ¼ of the meringue mixture into the chocolate almond batter and fold through. Add in the remaining meringue and fold through gently until fully combined, ensuring that you don't knock out the air.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level with an offset spatular. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with a few crumbs still attached to it. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool until slightly warm or completely cool before releasing the cake from the tin and setting it on your serving plate— dust with cocoa powder to serve.
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- Whole almonds: If you cannot find ground almonds, then use blanched almonds instead. Place them into a food processor and process until finely ground, but they retain some texture. Please don’t take it too far, or you’ll make almond butter!
- How to store: Makeup to a day in advance. It actually tastes better the next day. Allow to cool completely, wrap well in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days or refrigerate for up to 5 days. Leave it out at room temperature before serving.
- How to freeze: Wrap torte in baking paper and place in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months — thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Alternatives: You can substitute the ground almonds with ground hazelnuts turning this into a Chocolate Hazelnut Torte instead. Leave out the Ameretto if you prefer.
- Tips: Fold the whipped egg whites into the batter gently so that you don’t knock the air out of them. Take care not to over bake to ensure that the cake's interior remains moist and fudgy. Bake for 5-10 minutes longer for a more set interior to the cake.
A little extra Info:
Where does Dark Chocolate Torte originate from?
Italian Chocolate Torte, Chocolate Almond Torte or Torta Carprese, as the Italians call it, originates from the island of Capri off Southern Italy. As with the origins of many desserts, the history of this flourless chocolate cake is a little murky. One story I like is that a baker in Capri was set to make a chocolate cake for a group of tourists to the region.
However, the baker ‘forgot’ to add the flour into the cake batter and the result was this cake with a crisp exterior shell and incredibly moist interior. Luckily, the tourists loved this happy accident so much and named it Torta Caprese for which Capri became famous for. It's been know as "uno dei pasticci più fortunati della storia”, roughly translated as one of history's most fortunate mistakes. I love that sentiment. Quite often the best outcome in the kitchen is the result of an unplanned mistake. That’s how we grow and move forward.