Flourless Chocolate Torte Revisited & a Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Right around the New Year I made a flourless chocolate torte. It was a recipe my mom had always turned to whenever she wanted a deep, dark and smooth chocolate torte to entertain with, and as I served it to guests who gave it the best compliments, I understood why.
That being said, at the time I almost didn’t pick that recipe. I knew I wanted to make a classic flourless chocolate torte, but when it came down to actually choosing and committing to a recipe, I was torn between Nordstrom’s “Sinful” Chocolate Torte and Alice Medrich’s Ultimate Flourless Chocolate Torte.
At first it seemed obvious that I’d choose the latter just because, c’mon it’s Alice Medrich and I trust her when she says something is “ultimate.” Not only that, but her recipe had been developed for Cook’s Illustrated and is the version they still feature prominently.
And yet! I chose Nordstrom’s recipe. Mostly because it had the guarantee of being successful since my mom had made it so many times before—something not to be underestimated when you have guests coming over—but also because it seemed more straightforward and less fussy than Medrich’s. In the end it was great, everyone loved it, and I was pleased. But I still had that itch of the unknown, wondering if the other recipe might have been a little more “ultimate.”
An opportunity to set my mind straight arrived almost half a year later (a couple weeks ago), when my older sister asked me to make a birthday treat for a friend who would be staying at our house during her birthday weekend. This time, though, I decided to serve it with this salted butter caramel sauce. Which is awesome, in case you haven’t tried it yet.
Medrich’s version definitely ended up being more fussy; for one, instead of separating the eggs and only beating the whites, the recipe calls for you to beat all 8 eggs until they double in volume. This sounds like it’d be easier, but I just found it took a lot more time and was harder to estimate when the eggs had been beaten enough. Also, it was a whole lot harder folding in wooshy beaten eggs into the batter than it is beaten egg whites. This torte also required a hot water bath, which is no big deal, but what was difficult was taking out the torte at precisely the right time—still undercooked, but not too much. Medrich says the center of the torte should register as 140 degrees with an instant-read thermometer, but I didn’t have one and would have felt a little weird anyway inserting a thermometer into an underbaked torte.
And although the torte did get gushing reviews from the birthday girl and her guests as they ate thin slices of the rich, rich torte with the salted caramel butter sauce or some raspberries, I wasn’t too impressed with it. It was very delicious, really! But it didn’t seem as instantly pleasing as Nordstrom’s version, despite all the extra work. Additionally, I found it hard to slice up and serve—pieces were so moist and sticky so that everything stuck together or broke up in chunks.
So, to sum up all of those mostly unnecessary words, here’s my verdict: If you’re going to try out a classic, flourless chocolate torte that has the taste of deep dark chocolate and a light, smooth texture like when a rich, thick cake meets mousse, try out Nordstrom’s Flourless Chocolate Torte. Pair it with raspberries and a raspberry coulis, or a salted butter caramel sauce like the recipe listed below. Both are easy, and instantly elevate a single slice of chocolate torte into being something special and insanely, wonderfully delicious.
Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes something like 1 1/2 cups
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons good salted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
Melt the sugar over medium-high heat in a saucepan that’s at least 2 or 3-quarts, making sure to whisk constantly. Keep cooking and whisking the sugar until it is completely liquid and turns to a dark amber color, about 5 minutes. Be careful here though—the sauce can go from wonderfully caramel to burnt in a matter of a minute. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Pour in the heavy cream and whisk until smooth. The mixture will boil and foam pretty vigourously with the addition of the cream, but will tame after a bit.
Serve over a slice of rich chocolate torte, over ice cream, or over whatever your heart desires immediately, or store in a jar in the fridge. Before serving, simply heat up the thickened caramel sauce in the microwave until warmed to the right consistency.