PHOTO BY MICHAEL PIAZZA
I discovered this recipe years ago in a cookbook called Stars Desserts by pastry chef Emily Luchetti. I was surprised to find it was flourless, making it a beautiful dessert to enjoy if you are gluten-free. This dessert has three main steps: the crust, the filling and the whipped cream topping. Note: The nut filling is quite loose. Do not be alarmed. It sets up beautifully once refrigerated. This dessert requires at least 6 hours to set up, and can be made up to 4 days ahead of time.
3 ounces walnuts, toasted and coarsely ground
4 ounces pecans, toasted and coarsely ground
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 pinch cinnamon
4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
20 ounces bittersweet chocolate
6 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
Chocolate shavings, made by running a vegetable peeler over a dark chocolate bar
Prepare pan: This cake is ideally made in an 8- or 9-inch springform pan, but can also be made in a regular cake pan. If using a regular cake pan, cut a parchment circle and place on the bottom of pan. Set aside.
Make crust: Combine walnuts, pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon in large bowl. Add melted butter and stir to blend. Pour mixture into bottom of your chosen pan. Use an offset spatula to evenly spread mixture to the edges of the pan. Refrigerate until firm.
Make filling: Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Set aside. In large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape bowl well and mix to blend. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Scrape bowl and whip mixture for 2–3 minutes. Add melted chocolate and mix to blend. Scrape bowl and mix again. Add heavy cream and vanilla and blend on low speed until incorporated.
Remove cake pan with crust from refrigerator. Pour mousse on top of crust. Use a spatula to smooth top of mousse. Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
Make whipped cream: Place cream and sugar in bowl and whip on medium speed until soft peaks form. The whipped cream can be spread on top of the cake before removing the cake from the springform pan* or can be dolloped on top of a slice when serving the cake.
Unmold cake by carefully running a hot dry knife (dip knife in hot water then wipe dry) around the inside edge of the pan, then release the latch. Slide cake onto serving platter. Cut slices with hot dry knife and garnish with chocolate shavings.
* Note: If using a cake pan instead of springform pan, you will need to remove the cake from the pan before topping with whipped cream. Make sure cake is completely cold. Run a hot dry knife around the inside of the cake pan. Place plastic wrap on top of the chocolate, then invert cake pan. Shake or gently tap pan until cake slides out of pan. Remove parchment circle from the bottom of nut crust. Place cake platter on nut crust and carefully flip cake over. Top with whipped cream.
Karen Collins is a self-taught pastry chef and owner of Bisousweet Confections, a wholesale bakery located in Shirley, MA. She also co-founded Nashoba Brook Bakery. Karen has always loved to write and has a blog called As the Bread Burns where she discusses baking, business-ing, parenting and life. When she's not baking or writing, Karen spends her time parenting her three children and three dogs, cycling, running, skiing, volunteering and vacuuming.