You want to experience a taste of la dolce vita (the sweet life), but you aren't sure where to begin. We're here to tell you about two distinct Italian chocolate cakes: the torta caprese and the Torta 900. It may be tough to decide between a chewy, moist base of crumbly cake and the second option, which offers decadent chocolate frosting-like cream between two cake layers. To make matters more tempting, regional variations have chefs putting unique twists and touches to their dessert recipes, offering a dizzying array of decadent treats to enjoy alongside coffee or that carefully selected after-dinner glass of booze.
Whether you find yourself gallivanting through the Italian countryside or end up visiting an Italian restaurant that offers a generous dessert list, it's time to get informed so you know what you're looking for. The secretive recipe for the spongy Torta 900 makes it difficult to track down versions of this dessert outside of Turin, Italy, but a torta caprese offers a more easily replicated treat. You can even enjoy a chocolate flourless cake tonight in your own home if you please.
Read more: 30 Types Of Cake, Explained
What Is Torta Caprese?
First created on the Italian island of Capri, torta caprese is a dense cake typically made of equal parts ground almonds, butter, chocolate, and sugar. After adding in eggs, the moist batter yields a flourless chocolate cake that is both indulgent and gluten-free. If you're looking to satisfy chocolate cravings or impress dinner party guests, this fudgy cake is an instant home run.
While the history surrounding the origins of the cake is filled with lore, the dominant narrative is that the cake was a culinary mishap, with chefs either forgetting to add flour or reaching for a different ingredient in a moment of disarray. But that mistake turned into quite the success.
The crust of this cake offers a gentle toothy bite that gives way to the gooey, dark-chocolatey center. Slices of the finished chocolate treat are simply decorated, with dustings of powdered sugar and the occasional inclusion of fresh, seasonal fruit. Though the original recipe is satisfying as is, enhancements of homemade whipped cream on top, a spoonful or so of Amaretto or Strega liqueur in the batter, or various nut substitutions for the almonds can give chefs everywhere some culinary options while creating and plating this decadent dessert.
What Is Torta 900?
Offering another delicious mouthful, the torta novecento -- aka Torta 900 -- was made with the 20th century in mind. The recipe was devised by master pastry chef Ottavio Bertinotti from the northwestern Italian town of Ivrea in honor of the new century. His culinary invention became a hit. The cake was so popular that others began making their own versions of Torta 900 to sell. To protect his novelty recipe, Bertinotti took out a patent on the cake, preserving his secret for years to come. Eventually, Bertinotti sold his recipe to Umberto Balla, who owns Pasticceria Balla, a family-run bakery that continues to crank out slices of the spongy chocolate dessert for visitors to the region.
This cake offers a light, gummy texture with a filling that is similar to creamy chocolate mousse that is nestled between two chewy layers of chocolate cake. The Torta 900 is commonly topped with a generous coating of powdered sugar, and while the exact recipe remains a secret, chefs around the world have attempted to make versions of their own.
Differences In Taste
Slices of these two Italian chocolate cakes offer noticeable differences, preparing dessert enthusiasts with unique gastronomic experiences. While the torta caprese offers solid bites of flourless cake that are subtly flavored with almonds, the layers of the Torta 900 provide variation in texture. From the layers of spongy cake to the creamy chocolatey filling, the Torta 900 seems like two desserts in one, making it the ideal choice for those who can't seem to decide between a mousse and a cake.
The overall taste of the Torta 900 is light. Its cake layers are spongy and delicate, and the chocolate filling is whippy. Torta caprese, however, is fudgy and rich with a center that is almost like a pudding. Expect a balance of bittersweet chocolate, though the overall taste of the dessert will depend on the type of chocolate used by the chef. Each dense bite of this cake is sure to satisfy chocolate cravings on the spot.
Differences In Recipes
While the original recipe for the Torta 900 remains a secret, plenty of chefs have attempted to replicate the dessert with its spongy slices of cake that appear to be stuffed with chocolate mousse. Those delicate layers separate this dessert from the decadent torta caprese, a solid hunk of a flourless chocolate cake that has a multitude of recipes available to make.
Pastry chefs need a practiced hand to master copycat versions of the Torta 900, while the torta caprese offers a more forgiving recipe to attempt at home. For chefs feeling up to the layering challenge, the Torta 900 can be attempted with chocolate cake and thick, creamy layers made with marscapone. Yet for those wanting to put a dessert together more quickly -- or needing to accommodate gluten-free dietary restrictions -- torta caprese is at the ready. To invite a whippier texture to the solid torta caprese, cake slices can easily be served with cream or chocolate mousse.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.