An alternative, Italian Christmas dessert
25g soft plain white flour, plus extra for dusting
100g bitter couverture chocolate or good, high percentage cocoa butter chocolate
4 large eggs
300g canned, sweetened chestnut puree
1 tsp natural vanilla essence
⅛ tsp cream of tartar
50g caster sugar
Icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 20cm deep round cake tin. Dust with flour.
Break the chocolate into a bowl, and add the butter. Place over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Take care not to overheat.
Separate the eggs. Sift the flour into a bowl, add the egg yolks, chestnut puree, vanilla and flour and whisk together. Stir in the chocolate mixture.
Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form, then gradually whisk in sugar until stiff. Do not overbeat.
Fold a quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then the remaining whites.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 40-45 mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out moist but not sticky. Leave the torte to cool in the tin on a rack. It will have risen and then dropped slightly in the centre so level with a palette knife.
When cold, turn out and dust with sifted icing sugar.
Note: During cooking, the torte puffs up like a soufflé but then sinks in the centre when left to cool. Don’t worry—it’s supposed to! The torte should be stored at room temperature and is best if made at least one day in advance. It can be frozen and kept for up to three months.
Recipe: Ursula Ferrigno