food. family. life.

flourless chocolate cake with chocolate-dipped orange segments & sea salt

St. Valentine’s Day.

A day based on a somewhat confusing history of pagan fertility festivals and the romantic story of St. Valentine, his love of love and romance and his personal battles with the church that ultimately took his life.

Dan and I do not personally buy into the card industry version of Valentine’s Day. We celebrate a more personal holiday on February 17th that rings true to our hearts every year. I do, however, love the idea of Valentine’s Day without the pressure of overpriced red roses and a reservation at a overcrowded restaurant where the food is sure to be mediocre at best due to the masses.

My advice is to devise a plan for your beloved, one that is filled with romance, affection, fun and love. Visit an old haunt where you first met and then go home and prepare a meal together and enjoy the alone time over a bottle of wine or your favorite cocktail.

Find tokens of affection that do not break the bank but instead, show him or her that you really know them and what they love deep down inside. They can be silly, playful, romantic or just something beautiful. They will love you for it.

I also love spending alone time with him catching up on why we love each other so much and what our romantic future plans will be as the days, weeks and months pass. These moments are when I work hard (and often fail, just to start again) at keeping the conversation about us, we, he and I.

Talk of children, school, work and others is strictly kept to a minimum so we can dig deep and find out where our thoughts and hearts have been. We often find that we are thinking of the same things and we begin to form plans for new adventures, trips and time together.

Enjoying food and great wine is one of the most romantic things anyone can do for me. I love to cook for and with Dan on a weekday or special occasion, something we try to do often.

This recipe is one of my dessert favorites and includes all the ingredients you will need for a sultry, romantic subtly sweet indulgence that will bring any man or woman the greatest food pleasure they can imagine.cucinadiammina_flourless chocolate with chocolate dipped oranges_1

I did some digging for a recipe to work with and adapt to my tastes; I found a wonderful gluten-free, dairy-free version by food blogger, Baked Bree, that we really enjoyed.

I kept searching for a version that comes from Italy with some of the flavors I was craving and I found a great recipe from Mario Batali.

I tweaked it just by adding some fresh grated orange zest to the batter just before baking, as I wanted to serve this along with one of the simplest sweet treats, chocolate-dipped orange segments with sea salt.

I also used olive oil instead of butter in trying to keep it a bit healthier for Dan and I, trust me you won’t miss it all.


{torta al cioccolato con cioccolato arancio e sale marino}

a bit more than 1/3 cup olive oil (less than 1/2 cup)

1 1/4 cup granulated organic sugar

6 large eggs, separated

5 tbsp. instant espresso powder

6 tbsp. good quality dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder

5-6 tbsp. good quality rum

1 1/2 cup ground blanched almonds (or purchase already ground almonds at health food stores, called “almond flour”)

flour (for dusting the baking pan)

confectioner’s sugar for dusting (prior to serving)

In a glass bowl over softly boiling water (double-boiler method), heat the olive oil to just warm and slowly whisk in the sugar until blended and then the egg yolks. Cook for about 5 minutes while blending until the eggs become ribbon like and lighter in color (do not overcook or they will scramble!)

Keeping the bowl on low to medium heat over the water, now whisk in the instant espresso coffee until well blended. Add in the cocoa powder, rum and ground almonds or almond flour and blend until combined. The mixture will result in a smooth creamy chocolate blend.

Remove from the heat and place in a large bowl and set aside.

Grease and flour a 9″ or 10″ cake pan (depending on how tall you wish this torte to be, I baked mine in a 10″ springform pan which is what you see in the photos.) Set aside.

In your mixer bowl, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks, stop beating before they begin to form hard peaks.  Slowly fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture until all is well combined.

Pour batter into the prepared baking pan and place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes (or until the sides of the torte come away from the pan.)cucinadiammina_flourless chocolate with chocolate dipped oranges_6

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Remove torte from pan and flip over. Dust generously with confectioner’s sugar and decorate with some of the chocolate-dipped orange segments.

Serve immediately with espresso and after dinner cordials.

{chocolate-dipped orange segments with sea salt }

2-4 small cuties or halo oranges (peeled and stripped of all fibers)

2-3 squares of 80% dark chocolate bar

2-3 squares of semi-sweet chocolate bar

sea salt

place the orange segments on a greased piece of wax or parchment paper or lightly oiled baking sheet. Place the chocolate squares in a microwave safe deep bowl and heat until melted and smooth (1-2 minutes or so.)

Blend with a fork and begin dipping the orange segments and lay them on the oiled surface to set. Sprinkle very lightly with the sea salt to taste (just a few grains, do not over salt.)

Allow to set for a few hours or place in the refrigerator to set rapidly. Place them on the servings of the torte di cioccolata and serve immediately.cucinadiammina_flourless chocolate with chocolate dipped oranges_2


Note: Photography provided by Annette L. Venditti

Felice giorno di San Valentino e Buon Appetito! 

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