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Sorrentine Torta

Sorrentine Torta
New York chef Mario Batali serves this dessert as part of an Italian-style Christmas Eve dinner that he prepares for his restaurant cooks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups walnut pieces
  • 1 cup walnut halves
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tbs. confectioners' sugar, plus
      more for dusting
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbs. maraschino liqueur
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 400°F. Butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

Spread the walnut pieces and walnut halves on separate baking sheets. Place both in the oven and toast until fragrant and lightly golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Set the walnut halves aside. Transfer the walnut pieces to a cutting board, chop roughly and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and the 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar until the mixture is thick and pale yellow and a slowly dissolving ribbon forms when a beater is drawn through the mixture, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and chopped walnuts and stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until firm peaks form. Add one-third of the egg whites to the bowl with the yolk mixture and stir well to lighten. Fold the remaining whites gently but thoroughly into the yolk mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared tart pan. Bake until set and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the torta in half horizontally. Place the bottom disk, cut side up, on a cake plate. Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the disk with 1/4 cup of the maraschino liqueur.

In a large bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the 1 Tbs. confectioners' sugar and 1 Tbs. maraschino liqueur and whip until firm peaks form.

Spread the bottom half of the torta with half of the whipped cream. Brush the cut side of the second disk with the remaining 1/4 cup maraschino liqueur and place, cut side down, on top of the whipped cream. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top of the torta and top with the walnut halves. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 3 hours before serving. Just before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar. Serves 8 to 10.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma TASTE Magazine, "Christmas Eve with the Cooks," by Kate Krader (Holiday 2001).