I began this blog to share my Daring Kitchen Challenges. Sadly, the Daring Kitchen has stopped. I have decided to continue with the blog.

If you have any children in your life, you may wish to try this. While the sight of these morsels may make your adult teeth shrivel up inside your head? Children really loved these at their debut last weekend.

Candy Sushi

Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Cake


Parting is such sweet sorrow…

Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2

A very dear friend who leads our women and dogs hiking group is leaving for far away Ontario. Today, we threw a party in her honor. I brought this cake. I found it in a book on raising chickens: Barbara Kilarski’s Keep Chickens!   When I offer to make a cake for friends’ birthdays? This is the one they request.

If you, the baker, feel a bit penitent the day after the cake? The next day, you are left with four egg whites to make yourself an omelette (or meringues…shhh!).

Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Cake: Variations on a Theme. Decorating: Have fun: nuts, edible flowers, berries…

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Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing the pan

8 ounces semisweet chocolate squares, broken in half

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

8 eggs, separated [you will need all 8 yolks but only 4 whites]

¾ cup sugar

½ cup raspberry jam (see note*)

Chocolate Ganache (recipe after this one)

Heat the oven to 325 F. Liberally grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter. In the top half of a double boiler (or a stainless-steel bowl that sits in a pot of water, water not touching the bottom of the bowl), melt the butter and chocolate, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.

With an electric mixer, beat the 8 egg yolks with the sugar on high speed until the mixture is pale yellow. In a separate bowl, beat 4 of the egg whites on high speed until firm peaks form. Discard the remaining four whites. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Add one-third of the egg whites, incorporating them thoroughly. Fold in the remaining egg whites. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a plate. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Top the chilled cake with a thin, even layer of raspberry jam. Refrigerate for another hour. When the jam is chilled on the cake, pour the warm ganache over the top and sides of the cake. Serve immediately, or after chilling for 15 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache

6 ounces semisweet chocolate squares, broken in half

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons corn syrup

¼ cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate and butter in the top half of a double boiler, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and blend thoroughly. Add the corn syrup, whipping cream, and vanilla and stir until smooth. While the mixture is still warm, spread it over the cake.

*Note: Instead of raspberry jam, I combine 2 Cups of Fresh or Frozen Raspberries and 3/4 Cup Sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. I wait until the berries fall apart and the mixture thickens just a tad. Then, to catch the seeds, I pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl. Pour this raspberry syrup over your chilled cake and chill some more… Continue with directions above.




November 2016 Daring Kitchen Challenge:Torta Della Nonna

Brava! Torte Della Nonna

My very first Daring Bakers Challenge: Torta Della Nonna (Granny’s Cake). Thank you, Ginger, for hosting this challenge. I chose a rainy Sunday to bake this the first time : just me, the pets, and lots of Steely Dan playing. My dear husband is away. We are all missing him. Perfect time to get wrapped up in a baking project.

So, imagine a big hug from your Grandma. That’s this dessert. The big thought cloud over this cake is ‘I love you so very much and wish for you to be happy’.

I remember visits to my Grandma, Rose. After receiving her kiss and hug hello, she’d say, ‘What’s new? Come play some gin rummy with me’ while starting to shuffle a dingy deck of cards with her knobby fingers. In the background, my Grandpa, Lester, would smile and tease, ‘Foxy Grandma…’ as if to tell me to watch out! We’d play cards and enjoy each other’s company. When it came to food, my Grandpa was the cook in their house. My usual comfort/attachment food from Grandpa was a Black Cow: Vanilla Ice Cream with Coca Cola on the back porch. In may parts of Italy, the Torte Della Nonna is what is served to grand kids and family.

Just a wee bit of pastry cream?
Nonna & Nonno smooching.

There are many variations on Torte della Nonna. The only mandatory bits of the challenge were to make the pastry and pastry cream from scratch. I chose a version that adds a layer of sponge cake over the pastry and under the pastry cream. My husband is celiac. So, the baking is gluten-free.

There are three parts to this Torte della Nonna: sponge cake, pastry shell, pastry cream.

Recipe Sources

Gluten-Free Baking Classics  by Analise Roberts (pasta frolla & vanilla sponge)

Dolce Italiano, Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina De Palma (pastry cream)

Recipe 1: Vanilla Sponge Cake


3/4 cup Brown Rice Flour Mix

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon guar gum

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided (1/4 cup & 1/2 cup)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place rack in the center of the oven. Line a 10 1/2 x 15 1/2-inch jelly roll pan with parchment grease very lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, guar gum, and salt together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites in large bowl of electric mixer. Start mixer at medium speed and beat until whites are foamy. Gradually increase speed to high. Add 1/4 cup of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar dissolves and whites from medium soft peaks. Do not scrape bowl while beating. Set aside.
  4. Beat egg yolks in large bowl of electric mixer until thick and lemon colored. Add remaining 1/2 cup sugar gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat until light colored and fluffy. Add flour mixture, vanilla extract, and almond extract and mix until smooth. Batter with be thick.
  5. Fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten it; gently fold in remaining egg whites. Pour batter into cake pan and place in center of preheated oven. Bake 16-18 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly. Let it cool completely. Set aside and make your pastry.

    Sponge from oven

Recipe 2: Pasta Frolla


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Brown Rice Flour Mix

2 tablespoons sweet rice flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons (6 oz.) cold unsalted butter (not margarine) cut into 6 pieces

1 large egg at room temperature

2 teaspoons lemon juice

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place rack in the center of the oven. Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan with shortening. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper. Generously dust with sweet rice flour.
  2. Mix flours, sugar, xanthan gum, and salt in food processor. Add butter and pulse until crumbly and resembling course meal.
  3. Add egg and lemon juice. Pulse until dough holds together; it should not be sticky. Form dough into a ball, using your hands, and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Top with a second sheet of parchment paper and flatten dough to 1 inch thickness.
  4. Roll out dough between the 2 sheets of wax paper. Your circle of dough needs to be about 10 inches in diameter to cover the bottom of the 9-inch pan and climb up the sides for 1 inch. If dough seems, tacky, refrigerate for 15 minutes before proceeding.
  5. Carefully, remove your top piece of parchment paper and nestle the pastry into prepared pan. Chill for 5 – 10 minutes.
  6. Use a sharp knife to trim the edge. Make a pretty border with fingertip or fork. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork.
  7. Bake pastry for about 25 mintues or until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
    Pastry shell into the oven.

    Pastry shell cooling.

8. After the pastry has cooled, go back to your sponge cake. Gently run a knife along the edge of the pan. Then lay a cutting board over the cake and flip it. Peel off the parchment paper from the top of the cake. Cut a circle that will fit into the pastry shell. I used a dish as my guide. Set your circle of cake into the pastry shell.

Recipe 3: Torta Della Nonna Pastry Cream (Crema Pasticceria)


Pastry Cream Ingredients


2 cups whole milk
Three 3″ / 8cm long strips freshly peeled lemon zest
1/2 vanilla bean
5 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided- 3Tbsp + 2 Tbsp
4 large egg yolks
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted and cooled
Powdered sugar to garnish
Bittersweet chocolate, for garnish (optional)

  1. Place the milk and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the ½ vanilla bean with the flat side of a small knife and add the seeds and the bean to the pan. Stir in 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and place the saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and the salt. When the milk mixture begins to boil, remove it from the heat. Quickly whisk the flour into the yolks, then whisk in a few splashes of the milk mixture. Gradually add more milk mixture, whisking constantly to remove any lumps.
  3. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until it has thickened enough to mound when it falls from the whisk.
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove the zest, vanilla bean, and any lumps of cooked egg.
  5. Transfer the pastry cream to a large, shallow bowl and whisk in the butter.

Torta Della Nonna Assembly

  1. Spread the pastry cream over your sponge cake inside of the pastry shell.

    Pastry cream into the pastry shell
  2. Allow the pastry cream and shell to cool completely so the cream sets into the shell. Then cover with plastic wrap and transfer the tart to the refrigerator to chill.
  3. To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan and transfer the tart to an attractive serving plate.
  4. Scatter the toasted pine nuts across the top and garnish with powdered sugar or finely grated bittersweet chocolate.

    Enjoy! Think of your Nonna.