Occasionally……. very occasionally……. I make a dish that surpasses all expectations and makes me go weak at the knees both for the joy of eating it as well as the euphoria of the baking success. THIS is one of those dishes!
Give thanks to the chocolate god…… for she has delivered perfection in the form of a Heavenly Chocolate, Walnut & Pear Torte which is not only gluten free, but dairy free as well!
What makes the result even more startling is that it wasn’t actually meant to be the Torte it became. I set out to make a pear brownie with nothing but a larder of ingredients, some paper and a pen. I wanted the brownie to be dairy as well as gluten free and I wanted to make it with ingredients that weighted to the healthier side of decadence….. coconut oil in replacement of butter and spreads, less refined sugars, anti-oxidant and flavanol-rich dark chocolate, nutrient-rich almonds and walnuts, protein-filled eggs and some fruit for good measure.
As a brownie it failed….. the crumb was gooey yes, but it was not ‘sticky’ enough to hold as a brownie.
Disappointed…… I took a disgruntled mouthful of my ‘failed’ chocolate bake…….. and WOW! The flavour and texture was incredible. As my brain processed the experience, making sense of the soft, silky, gooey, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate heaven that was dissolving on my tongue, I realised that (to me at least) this was a truly accidental masterpiece. Deep, nutty, chocolate-filled waves of wanton enjoyment washed across my senses. Serotonin-induced heaven on a spoon…..
I usually hate to ‘big myself up’ on things and generally play down success….. Confidence has never been a key part of my personality…… But you know what? THIS torte is so delicious, I am going to shout it from the roof tops.
Many years ago when I still ate gluten, I had a favourite dessert at a Mexican restaurant called Cafe Des Amis. It was a chocolate torte served with dark and white chocolate cream. I was totally gutted when I could no longer eat it….. it was the dessert that made me ecstatically happy when I ate it. Knowing that I would just be disappointed if I tried to create a gluten free version that failed, I have never bothered to try…… But this torte is as close as I remember…… in fact, I think it may be even better!
I realise that these are pretty big claims for a humble chocolate torte, so to be sure its advent was not a fluke, it has been made and devoured twice this week in our house. It has disappeared in a flash on both occasions…… and once gone, I was already facing calls for more….
It is most definitely a dessert torte….. with a very moist, dark, rich, pudding-like crumb. Best eaten with a fork or spoon, it can be made even more decadent with a hefty pillowy dollop of whipped coconut cream or (if you can eat dairy) some clotted or extra thick double cream. The walnuts add a beautiful nutty crunch to the experience and the pear marries wonderfully against the cocoa….. Pear and chocolate is one of my all time favourite dessert combinations.
Mr GF thinks it is the best chocolate torte I have ever made. That’s high praise…… Asked to describe it however, he merely said ‘Yummy’! Pushed to be a little more specific, he said it was ‘not over-sweet’ and was a ‘very adult dessert’. He was never a man of many words and clearly won’t be employed as a food critic any time soon! Miss GF disagrees with the ‘adult’ bit of course….. being a child who loved it too, she is worried that such flippant statements may render this new wonder-pud off-limits. She’s ready for a fight!
I am sharing the chocolate love with the following linkies :
Free From Fridays with Emma at the Free From Farmhouse.
Inheritance Recipes with Coffee & Vanilla (& Pebble Soup). Given that this torte is my best gluten free comparison with one of my all time favourite desserts, I am passing it to Miss GF as a keeper for her future foodie joy.
Sunday Fitness & Food, this week with Ilka’s Blog (& Marathons & Motivation).
Gluten Free Fridays with Vegetarian Mamma.
Tea Time Treats with The Hedge Combers (& Lavender & Lovage). This is Janie’s very last hosting of the Tea Time Treats Linky Party and to make sure she goes out on a high, she has asked for all of our Best Ever Recipes! Thanks for being such a great host Janie…… We’ll miss you!
Chocolate, Walnut & Pear Torte
2 teaspoons GF baking powder
50g ground almonds
100g rough-chopped walnuts
2 large eggs (I used duck eggs)
50 ml almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ pears – cored, peeled and cut into small cubes
50g dark (dairy free) chocolate chips
additional walnut halves to decorate
- Base-line a 9 inch loose-bottomed cake tin (round or square) with baking paper.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/350 F/Gas 4.
- In a small saucepan, melt together the chocolate, coconut oil and two sugars until well-blended. Do not allow to boil.
- In a large bowl, weigh and mix together the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, ground almonds and chopped walnuts.
- Add the chocolate-sugar liquid and beat well with a silicone or wooden spoon. Set aside to cool slightly, stirring intermittently.
- In a separate bowl, beat together the eggs, almond milk and vanilla extract until well blended. Add to the cooled chocolate batter and beat through with the spoon.
- Fold in the pear cubes and chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the cake tin and smooth the top.
- Bake for 30 minutes before turning the oven down to 150 C/300 F/Gas 2. Bake for a further 10 to 15 minutes until well risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and leave in the tin to cool completely. The centre of the cake may sink very slightly. This is fine. It should be very moist and a little gooey.
- When cold, carefully remove from the tin and place on a serving plate.
- Decorate with walnut halves (to keep them in place, I stuck mine with a little melted chocolate) and a further sprinkle of nuts and chocolate as you choose.
- Serve on its own, with poached pears or with whipped coconut cream or double/clotted cream (if you can eat dairy).
- Store in the fridge between ‘eats’. It will firm up, but when brought back to room temperature before serving will regain its soft, gooey consistency.