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Recipe of the Week: Almond Orange Torte


PHOTO PROVIDED Chef Loretta Paganini

One of the most popular torte in Italy is an almond torte. With almond trees growing all over the country, almonds are readily available and fairly inexpensive to buy. Therefore they are used in a variety of desserts preparation and sometime even in savory dishes. A torte is a thick cake made with eggs, butter, sugar, flour, flavoring and ground nuts. The lovely taste of this torte pairs beautifully with a cup of espresso coffee or a glass of sweet wine like passito or vin santo. I use a variety of fresh fruits or berries to serve with this delicious almond torte. My mother made it at her bakery on a large sheet tray and sold it by weight with fresh fruits on top and a jelly glaze to finish it. The torte can be made ahead and even frozen for up to three weeks. Serves eight. (Chef tip: For a smoother texture, you can substitute almonds for one cup of almond flour or seven ounces of almond paste.)

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole, blanched almonds

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup granulated sugar

6 large eggs

1 teaspoon orange zest

Melted butter, for preparing the cake pan

1/4 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon orange zest

1/4 cup triple sec liquor

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom of nine-inch cake pan. Line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment and then more butter.

In a food processor, chop the almonds with the sugar until very fine. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Cream the butter in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the almond and vanilla extracts, and the orange zest. Beat until thoroughly incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating continuously. Fold in the nuts, and flour mixture.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake on the center oven rake for 55 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven to a rack and cool. Remove the cake from its pan and set it onto a cake rack, discard the paper and cool completely. Chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the orange juice, orange zest and triple sec on top of a double boiler for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve and drizzle over the baked cake. Serve at once.