Sunday, June 6, 2010

A touch of Italian flair

Ever since I started this blog, back in November, my boyfriend has been complaining about two things. First, the fact that I spend too much time in front of my laptop and second, the fact that he has gained a couple of kilos.





If truth be told, he is right. I have been spending a lot of my free time cooking and in front of my laptop. Writing a food blog is not such an easy task. Having to figure out what recipe I want to post next, cooking the food while attempting to take decent photographs of its preparation and taking notes on what works or not in the recipe, photographing the food after it's been cooked while trying to keep my boyfriend away from it, writing the actual post for both the English and the Greek version of my blog and selecting the photos to go with it, well, it does take a lot of time and effort.






As far as his second complaint is concerned, I have to admit, it is partly my fault. For every dish you see posted on my blog there are one or two that don't make it on the blog but make it into our stomachs. My boyfriend's stomach to be more accurate. He has become my guinea pig. He must taste everything and tell me what he thinks and I trust his judgment and his palate completely.






Since I started food blogging, I have been making far more desserts than ever before and usually I have a slice of cake or just one scoop of ice cream or a small brownie square, but S. is the one who just can't control himself. Most of the time he ends up eating the whole lot in a matter of days. He says that my food is irresistible. Is that my fault? Besides, he has no reason to worry. He looks more attractive than ever, even with the extra two kilos he's gained because of this blog.






Perhaps food blogging is time consuming and causing me some trouble with S. but it's worth it. I love everything about it. The whole process. The writing, the sharing of recipes and ideas, the reading of your comments, the cooking, especially the cooking. That's what I enjoy immensely and even if it's detrimental to our waistlines, what I particularly love is making desserts. Like this one right here. Individual amaretti and chocolate tortes with almond flavored whipped cream and a sprinkling of crumbled amaretti biscuits. Be still my heart.






I have made a lot of cakes, a lot of chocolate cakes but these are so different. They are actually tortes which mean that they contain ground nuts rather than flour, making them ideal for people who are on a gluten-free diet. They also contain amaretti biscuits which are small almond flavored biscuits originating from Italy. They are very light and have the distinct taste of the famous Italian liqueur, Amaretto. These biscuits are called the Italian macarons.






The chocolate is dark and luscious and once melted, it is added to the batter. A bit of butter, not a lot, just enough to make the tortes creamy is also added along with the ground almonds, the biscuits and some sugar to add further sweetness. Batter is then divided among ramekins, put in the oven and finally, after thirty minutes, the moment comes. The tasting.






These impressive looking tortes have a superb chocolaty and almond flavor and paired with the freshly whipped cream make a uniquely scrumptious combination. They are moist and dense yet light and so incredibly fragrant. There is a depth of flavor from the amaretti biscuits in the batter that give a slightly bitter almond taste to the tortes and the light sprinkling of crushed biscuits on top offers a pleasant contrast of textures.






Eating one of these tortes straight out of the oven is just fantastically delicious. Gooey, rich, hot tortes with refreshing cooled whipped cream on top and crunchy biscuits. Perfection. Eat one of these tortes the following day when all the flavors have had the time to blend and they will taste even better.
Accompany these delectable little tortes with a cup of coffee or a small glass of Amaretto liqueur and you'll have the ideal after-dinner treat.










Individual Amaretti and Chocolate Tortes with Almond-Flavored Whipped Cream
Adapted from Bon Appétit

I bought the amaretti biscuits ready made but next time I will definitely make my own since they are very easy to make.

In Holland they have similar biscuits called bitterkoekjes (bitter cookies) which you can use in this recipe instead of the amaretti biscuits.






Yield: 6 individual tortes

Ingredients

for tortes
120 g dark 55% good quality chocolate, roughly chopped
80 g amaretti biscuits
85 g ground almonds
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
60 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the ramekins
100 g sugar
4 medium-sized eggs
All-purpose flour for dusting the ramekins*

for almond-flavored whipped cream
170 ml chilled cream, full-fat
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 tsp icing sugar

2-3 amaretti biscuits, crumbled, for sprinkling over the tortes
Icing sugar, for dusting the tortes

Special equipment: 6 ramekins of 150 ml capacity or 3/4 cup ramekins, large food processor, hand mixer

Preparation

for tortes
Butter and flour the ramekins. Place a round piece of baking paper at the bottom of each ramekin. Set them aside.

Put chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and place bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Melt the chocolate, stirring it around with a rubber spatula and once completely melted, remove bowl from the top of the pan and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

Place ground almonds, amaretti biscuits, cinnamon and salt in the food processor and, using on/off turns, blend everything together until finely ground. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

Place butter, sugar and eggs in the food processor and mix everything until you have a well blended and smooth mixture, for about 3 minutes. In between, you might want to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the ground almonds-biscuit mixture and the melted chocolate to the butter-sugar-eggs mixture. Using on/off turns, process until well blended.

Divide the batter equally among the 6 ramekins, filling them by 3/4 each.

Place the ramekins on a rimmed baking tray and place the tray on the middle rack of the oven.
Bake for around 30 minutes, until tops of tortes are puffed and dry and when inserting a cake tester or a toothpick it comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Once tortes are ready, take ramekins out of the baking tray and onto a wire rack to cool. Let them cool for about 15 minutes and then turn them over onto the wire rack to cool completely. If you're having trouble releasing tortes from the ramekins, take a small knife and run it around the edges of the ramekins to release the tortes.




for almond-flavored whipped cream
Place cream, almond extract and icing sugar in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer beat everything together for about 5 minutes until stiff peaks form.

You can make the whipped cream a couple of hours before you serve the tortes and keep it in the refrigerator.

to serve
You can either crumble the amaretti biscuits with your hands or you can place them in a food processor and process to crumbs.

Place each torte on a small plate. Dust tortes with a little icing sugar and top with the whipped cream. You can either just spoon it on or you can fill a pastry bag and pipe it on the tortes.
Sprinkle with the amaretti biscuit crumbs and serve.


The tortes can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days, at room temperature.






*If you are on a gluten-free diet you might want to dust the ramekins with rice flour instead of all-purpose flour.


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22 comments:

  1. I agree with you that writing a food blog is no easy task. It's much harder and more time-consuming that it seems. My husband also complains about the same things:)

    What an amazing dessert!

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  2. Welcome to the club Magda. After three years of blogging, now I am posting only healthy recipes and trying to keep away of this damned computer :)

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  3. Nisrine, it seems like all food bloggers have a similar story to tell :)

    Ivy, good for you!

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  4. Yes my husband has complained as well about the weight gain... actually, even I had put on a couple of kilos! But anyway, I don't blame your boyfriend - whenever I get a chance to visit your blog I notice myself drooling at your creations!

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  5. I love the mini version that you made this torte in; when I think of torte, i picture a huge cake with whipped cream; this is so much better. No wonder your boyfriend has a hard time controlling himself; I would too!

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  6. My husbands complaint is, that he has to wait for me to photograph the food before he can eat it, so it gets cold. He has become an expert at using the microwave.

    Your tortes looks fantastic! Now my husband will have another recipe he has to wait to eat.

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  7. Γιώργος [Αθήνα]June 7, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    Magda, there's one easy solution with your uncontrollable boyfriend: just start making light pastries and light cooking! Of course, this will keep u more engaged with experimenting on the kitchen bench, but this is what u want!
    As for me, for example, I always try to replace sugar with honey or with other natural syroups, or white flour with whole meal one or even with grain flakes. And this experimentation has given me new creations out of typical/classical recipes, not always acceptable by those who equate sweets only with sugar. Well, I don't care about their opinion! I just know that kitchen experiments enrich my experience in the house science eatables. ;-)))

    PS: Come on, his 2 kilos are not hard to put away. Just a change of habits can fix it!

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  8. These tortes look so good. I am with your boyfriend. Too much time at the computer and now having to spend way too much time at the gym to work off what you ate.

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  9. WOw, wow, WOW!!!!! Your tortes make me want to jump into the screen and eat the tortes...before your boyfriend does! :) :) Also, I should probably stop making such high calorie desserts, but I can't help myself! I've tried the low-cal versions and unless it is a fruit based dessert (like a crisp), the low-cal version just doesn't do it for me....

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  10. Hello Magda
    I'm joining you from France for the first time (via David Lebovitch's blog).
    Just wanted to congratulate you on the photos, recipe - the whole post!
    Looking forward to more.
    Best wishes

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  11. I love Amaretti and have to keep from buying a bag every time I shop at our local Italian market because I can easily eat the entire thing in one shot. They are so light in texture you do not realize just how many you are eating at once!!

    These tortes look divine! Really, really good Magda ... and I can see why you're significant other would be worried about packing on the pounds!

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  12. Sigh. Another delicious recipe to try. I adore amaretti biscuits. Your BF isn't the only one putting on the kilos! LOL ;-)

    I appreciate the high quality of work you do here on your blog and in the kitchen, Magda. Thank you!!

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  13. I love the jaunty piping of icing on the caps of these little tortes.
    Excellent recipe and demonstration!

    and yes, always the food blogger's dilemma--time and weight!

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  14. Magda, it's great to be so passionate about something. We're all rewarded by it. Your boyfriend with a full and content belly, your followers with lovely recipes, wonderful writing and incredible photos. Your tortes are stunning...right down to the off-center whipped cream and crumbles. Mmm. I think I can taste it.

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  15. I so agree with you...and your boyfriend! The deep sense of fulfillment writing about something as fundamental and sustaining as food is liberating.........and fattening! My husband loves amaretti cookies.....he would enjoy this I think

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  16. These look amazing. And your boyfriend is lucky to be your guinea pig! Life is too short to skip dessert.

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  17. Ditto - food blogging is a lot of work. And in two languages, no less. But thank you for your effort as I read both English and now Greek - in my attempt to re-learn all that I've forgotten of that language. These gems look absolutely delicious and can't wait to try them!

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  18. I came to your blog from the foodie blog roll and all your hard work really shows with what you have here.Your photos are wonderful! It would be great if you could join us on the International Food Blogger Conference. I look forward to reading more of your post!

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  19. I agree with everything! I think my boyfriend's biggest complaint is that I rarely make the same dish twice since I like trying new things to blog about. I can't believe you've only been blogging since November... Your blog is awesome!

    And those tortes look absolutely delicious!

    Sues

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  20. I laughed so much when I read your post! Felt like a deja vous!
    One thing is for sure ...we are not alone :-)

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