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Chocolate-Espresso Torte with Fresh Sour Cherries

The smoky flavor of espresso is an exceptional match for bittersweet chocolate, and this dark, decadent torte showcases their perfect marriage. A sour cherry topping is a foil for the torte’s richness, and its ruby-red color provides a stunning visual contrast. 

Ingredients:

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing 
  • 3/4 lb. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 
  • 1/4 lb. unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup brewed espresso, at room temperature  
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 
  • 6 egg yolks, at room temperature 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature 
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar  
  • 3/4 lb. fresh sour cherries  
  • 1/3 cup cherry juice  
  • 1 Tbs. arrowroot  
  • 2 Tbs. brandy  

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter, line the bottom with a parchment-paper round and grease the parchment with butter. Wrap the outside of the pan with a large sheet of aluminum foil.

In a heatproof bowl, combine the 8 Tbs. butter and the chocolates. Set the bowl over but not touching simmering water in a saucepan and heat, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Stir in the espresso, vanilla and salt. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks with 1/2 cup of the sugar until pale and creamy, then fold in the chocolate mixture.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed until foamy. Slowly add 1/4 cup of the sugar and beat until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Place the springform pan in a large roasting pan, transfer to the oven and pour about 1 inch of very hot water into the roasting pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and continue baking until the center of the torte is set, 25 to 30 minutes more.

Remove the torte from the water bath, discard the aluminum foil and let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Remove the springform pan sides, then invert the torte onto a greased sheet of parchment paper. Lift off the pan bottom, peel off the parchment round, turn the torte right side up onto a cake plate and let cool completely.

Pit and halve the cherries. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cherries, cherry juice and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cherries soften slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. In a small bowl, mix the arrowroot and brandy and stir into the cherry mixture. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool completely.

Slice the torte into wedges and serve with the cherry topping. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Desserts, by Raquel Pelzel (Oxmoor House, 2008).