By now, you probably know that I love entertaining and cooking for friends. Hosting a dinner party seems so adult, but I remember begging to help my mom with her dinner parties even when I was young. I’ll never forget the time I made Bon Appetit’s S’mores Coffee and Fudge Ice Cream Cake for a dinner party. I was 12. It was the cover recipe that month and I saw it and decided I had to make it.
Now, I’m twice the age and love the feeling even more of inviting friends over, planning menus, reading recipes and having a “grown-up” night in. And, I still love frozen desserts laden with chocolate sauce.
This is the beginning of Stracciatella Tortoni Cake with Espresso Fudge Sauce. It’s impeccably delicious and easy to make but still quite a show-stopper! I love having a lighter dessert to finish off the night, something cool and refreshing with a lovely crunch. Almonds and almond liqueur (Disaronno Amaretto) make this quite tasty.
Amaretti — Italian almond macaroons, or any crunchy almond cookie you can find, is finely ground before being combined with almonds and warm butter for the crust.
It’s pressed into the bottom of a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan, lined with parchment paper. You can do this a day ahead because it needs to freeze at least 30 minutes.
Egg whites, heavy cream, cream of tartar and a bit of sugar are whipped together.
You’ll be whipping the ingredients in a bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering water. An instant-read thermometer should register at 170 degrees after 7 minutes or so.
Stiff peaks will hold.
In a separate bowl, whip together the Disaronno, or any almond liqueur, and heavy cream.
Fold in half the meringue gently, but thoroughly.
When you add the remaining meringue, you’ll also add in delicious, shaved chocolate.
Once all the mixture is added into the pan on top of your almond cookie crust, top with those toasted almonds and a couple chocolate chips, if you’d like. This needs to freeze at least three hours, uncovered.
While your cake is freezing, make your espresso fudge sauce.
Cream, brown sugar, espresso powder and cocoa powder come together for a topping that takes the cake!
I served mine with those amazingly satisfying dark chocolate truffles we made last week. Heaven on a plate.
RECIPE, from Gourmet
- 2/3 cup finely ground amaretti (Italian almond macaroons; about 17; use a food processor) *You can substitute other almond cookies. Make sure they’re fairly sweet and crunchy!
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds with skin, toasted. Cooled and finely ground.
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
FOR TORTONI FILLING:
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature 30 minutes
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream, chilled
- 2 Tbsp Disaronno Amaretto or other almond-flavored liqueur
- 31/2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, shaved with a vegetable peeler or small knife
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup sliced almonds with skin, toasted and cooled
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tbsp light corn syrup
- 3 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp instant-espresso powder
- 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 1/2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used chips)
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
TO MAKE CRUST:
- Butter a 9-by 5-inch loaf pan and line bottom and short sides with a strip of parchment paper, leaving 4 inches of overhand on each end.
- Stir together ground cookies, ground almonds, and butter, then firmly press over bottom of pan. Freeze until firm. At least 30 minutes, up to overnight.
MAKE TORTONI FILLING:
- Beat egg whites with sugar, cream of tartar, and 1/8 tsp salt in large metal or glass bowl set over a large saucepan of simmering water using a handheld mixer at medium-high speed until whites hold soft peaks and an instant-read thermometer registers 170 degrees F, about 7 minutes.
- Remove bowl from pan and continue to beat meringue until it just holds stiff peaks, about 2 minutes.
- Beat cream with Amaretto in another bowl at medium speed using cleaned beaters until it just holds stiff peaks. Fold in half of meringue gently but thoroughly. Fold in remaining meringue along with chocolate. Spoon over crust, smoothing top with offset spatula.
- Sprinkle with almonds. Freeze, uncovered, until firm, about 3 hours.
- Bring cream, corn syrup, brown sugar, espresso powder, cocoa, 1/8 tsp salt, and half of chopped chocolate to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until chocolate is melted.
- Reduce heat and cook at a slow boil, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Stir in vanilla and remaining chocolate until smooth.
- Cool to warm.
- Dip bottom of loaf ban in 1 inch warm water in a roasting pan for 10 seconds. Then lift tortoni out of pan using parchment paper.
- Transfer to platter and peel paper from tortoni.
- Let stand 5 minutes to soften slightly.
- Cut into 6 triangular wedges.
- Thin sauce with additional cream.
*Note: Tortoni can be frozen up to three days.