Paleo Chocolate 'Torte'
When I was 13 years old, my parents took my sister and I to Paris. Aside from sitting outside the cafes, eating ham and butter on baguettes, the thing I always dream of is a chocolate torte with plain whipped cream from a small pastry shop. It looked just like a simple chocolate cake, but then when you took a bit, it was lusciously soft, slightly bitter from the dark chocolate and it’s cake-pudding texture was something completely new to me.
I am fairly certain that I thought about that torte the whole plane ride back from Paris. Whenever I see a chocolate torte on the menu at a pastry shop or restaurant, I order it.
Now, the classic chocolate torte is typically made with lots of melted chocolate, butter, eggs, sugar and almost no flour. These are a lot of things that I do not really eat these days but I still dream of that luscious, chocolate treat.
This recipe reminds me of that chocolate torte I had in Paris, but without grains, gluten or dairy. It is not your classic torte (hence why it put it in quotation marks), but it lives somewhere between the classic and a cake. When it is topped with the ganache, you won’t really care anyway. It is just so good. Let’s break down the ingredients that give the soft crumb and smooth ganache.
I have said it before and I will say it again, not all dark chocolates are created equally. Some can be overly bitter, almost burnt tasting. My preferred chocolate (that happens to also be vegan) is Taza Chocolate. The way they make their dark chocolate creates a unique, smooth and fruity tasting bar. No jarring bitterness, just the real taste of chocolate.
I used two and a half of their Wicked Dark bars, which are 95% cocoa content (mixed with a bit of organic cane sugar and cocoa butter). These bars are perfect in this dessert. If you can’t find Taza, then use the darkest vegan chocolate you can find.
Part of what I love about a chocolate torte is the soft center. Part of that is achieved through the butter and part is through the eggs. In this recipe, I am not using 6 eggs or 2 sticks of butter. The date syrup helps to give that soft center as well as the sweetness.
Date syrup is also a great, better-for-you alternative to cane sugar that is made from 1 thing: dates. The flavor is deep, rich, sweet and caramel-like. I put it on ice cream like a caramel sauce sometimes. If you don’t have it in your pantry, think about adding it. You will find yourself using it in place of maple syrup.
However, if you don’t have date syrup and don’t want to buy anything new, maple syrup is a great substitute. I have use molasses in place of the date syrup; it kinda works. But molasses has a much stronger flavor.
Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
There are so many type of cocoa powder out there. I remember getting sucked into an internet black hole, learning about all the different cocoa powders that are out there. I won’t lie; I have 5 types in my pantry. But the one that I use the most is dutch-process cocoa powder. This means that the cocoa powder has had its natural acidity neutralized; this results in a smoother flavor. This also means that you need to use baking powder versus baking soda. Baking soda works by reacting with an acid. Baking powder does not require additional acid.
In the end, I like dutch-process cocoa for most of my baked goods purely because I prefer the flavor. It is not as sharp; the flavor is just smooth, rich chocolate. I use Droste Cocoa or King Arthur; both available online.
And now, it is chocolate time.
4oz super dark chocolate
4oz coconut oil
4 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 tbsp date syrup (or maple syrup)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4oz dark chocolate
1oz coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt
Flaky sea salt for topping
Preheat oven to 350F and generously grease a 9inch, round cake pan. I line the bottom with parchment just to ensure the cake comes out easily.
In a medium bowl, add the almond flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the cocoa powder (don't skip the sifting) over the almond flour. Whisk together to remove any lumps from the almond flour and combine.
In a large bowl, combine the dark chocolate and coconut oil. Melt in the microwave (about 1 minute) or over a double boiler. Once melted, whisk in the coconut sugar, date syrup and vanilla until combined and smooth. Add the eggs, 2 at a time, whisking after each addition. Only mix enough to ensure the eggs are incorporated, but not more than that.
Using a spatula, fold the almond flour mixture into the chocolate-egg mixture. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Use the spatula to spread the batter evenly throughout the pan.
Bake for 20 minutes or just until the edges start to pull away from the side of the pan. Let the cake cool completely before topping. I like to throw it in the fridge to get it nice and chilled before topping with the ganache.
To make the ganache, combine the dark chocolate, tahini and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl. Melt them over a double boiler, mixing as it melts. While it is still hot, add the sea salt and instant espresso powder.
Pour the ganache over the chilled cake, spreading with the back of a spoon or offset spatula. Top with flaky sea salt and put back in the fridge to set the ganache. I love this cake straight from the fridge or at room temperature.
Store covered in the fridge for 1 week.