Eat Our Words – Pamela Schoenewaldt

Torta Caprese: chocolate-almond heaven
I spent the 90s near Naples, Italy and enjoyed more than my share of this fabulous (gluten-free) very rich chocolate almond cake, associated with the island of Capri. When I moved back to America, I set the start of my first two novels near Naples and started messing with Torta Caprese recipes. This one is more moist and a bit denser than the original. I’ve also added some non-traditional embellishments. Buon appetito!

Torta Caprese

Preheat oven to 350F and butter the sides of a 10″ springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper.

1 ½ C blanched slivered almonds
1 C sugar
8 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
5 large eggs, separated
1/2 – 1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp grated lemon peel
½ C melted unsalted butter
pinch of salt
confectioner’s sugar

Combine almonds with 1/3 C sugar in processor until very fine. Dump in large bowl. Again in the processor (you don’t need to clean it) process chocolate and 1/3 C sugar until the chocolate is finely ground. Add to almond-sugar and mix well until the color is uniform.
Melt and cool butter. Meanwhile, in separate bowl, with electric mixer, combine egg yolks with sugar until thick and foamy. Add egg mixture to the chocolate-almond-sugar mix, then add almond extract and lemon peel. Add melted, cooled butter and mix well.
With clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites with salt until stiff but not dry. Add to chocolate mixture in three additions, folding in carefully. Your goal is to have the mixture be reasonably uniform without deflating the egg whites. Pour into prepared pan, smooth, and bake. Check at 35 minutes with cake tester. Some crumbs may cling, but the center shouldn’t be wet. You may need to give it a few more minutes. Cool about 10 minutes before removing it from the pans.

Decoration: When cake is cool you may dust with confectioner’s sugar. I often make a simple stencil, maybe an initial of the guest of honor or something else. Stop right here if you want the classic Torta Caprese. But you may also offer some rich vanilla ice cream on the side. . . and/or . . . as in Italian, “crepi l’avarizia” [death to prudence and moderation] a raspberry Grand Marnier sauce.

Raspberry Grand Marnier Sauce
10 oz frozen raspberries
4 T sugar
1 tsp corn starch
1-2 T Grand Marnier
juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon
Put frozen raspberries in saucepan. Add sugar and cook over low heat until berries are thawed and sugar melted. Put some juice in a small bowl, add cornstarch, combine, and put back in saucepan. Cook a bit until thickened. Cool and add Grand Marnier and lemon.

Pass with the cake. Your friends will be happy. You can be happy again at breakfast if you have leftovers.


Pamela Schoenewaldt’s historical novels have been USAToday Bestsellers, short listed to for the Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction, and translated into five languages. Her first novel, When We Were Strangers, was a Barnes & Noble Great discovery. Her short stories have been published in France, England, and the U.S. She is the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, and taught fiction at the University of Maryland European Division, and UT. Pamela is a dual citizen of the USA and Italy.