Vail Valley baking: Chocolate torte is quick dessert
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL, Colorado “-Need a Vail Valley dessert in a hurry? If so, read on. This treat comes together quickly, pleases adults and youngsters, and doesn’t require unusual ingredients or lots of kitchen equipment.
It’s a thin chocolate torte with peanuts that’s served warm and topped with ice cream. Though it’s as easy to make as a brownie, the torte makes a more sophisticated impression. It has a creamy, dense texture and a bitter chocolate taste accented by the crunchy nuts. It’s made even more appealing by the play between the warm, sweet cake and the cold ice cream.
It usually takes me about 10 minutes, two bowls, a whisk, and a microwave to get this in the oven. Thirty minutes later it can be on the table. Now, that’s fast and easy.
You can prepare it ahead of time, but cool it completely after you remove it from the oven, cover it, and warm it up right before it’s eaten. I find it easier to cut when it’s cool, so I cut it into pieces and warm them up them individually.
Store it covered at either cool room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to two days. Though I haven’t tried it, it should freeze well if properly wrapped.
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The accompanying ice cream is very important for the success of this dessert. Chose any flavor you like to match with chocolate and peanuts. The chocolate sauce, however, can be optional. It adds another texture and enhances the look of the served dessert, but isn’t vital.
While it’s hard to mess up this recipe, overbaking will destroy much of its charm. Be sure to remove it from the oven when the top and the edges are dry but the torte is still moist in the middle.
Chocolate and Peanut Torte
Make in an 8-inch springform pan
Adjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet
1 (one) cup of semisweet chocolate chips, mini or regular-sized, divided
2 (two) tablespoons of smooth peanut butter
1 (one) tablespoon of unsalted butter
1 (one) large egg
_ (one fourth) cup of granulated sugar
1 (one) teaspoon of vanilla
3 (three) tablespoons of flour
_ (one half) cup of dry-roasted, salted peanuts, chopped medium
Commercial chocolate sauce (optional)
Turn the bottom of the springform pan upside down, so that the lip is on the pan’s underside and the torte will sit on the unlipped side. This will make the dessert easier to cut after it is baked; your knife won’t catch on the lip. Grease the springform pan or spray it with a vegetable-flour mixture and, with a paper towel, spread the mixture evenly all over the pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, with a rack in the center position.
Put three-fourths of a cup of the chocolate chips, the two tablespoons of peanut butter and the tablespoon of butter in a small, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at a low-medium temperature (I use #4 in a range that goes from 1-10) for 30 second intervals, checking after each interval, until the butter is melted and the peanut butter and chips are very soft and almost, but not fully, melted. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir until the mixture is completely smooth and combined. Set this aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg, sugar and vanilla until the mixture is foamy. Add the chocolate mixture and whisk until the combination is smooth. Fold in the three tablespoons of flour, the remaining quarter cup of chocolate chips and the chopped peanuts. Spread this batter in the prepared pan, leveling it and smoothing the top. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is set and shiny and a tester comes out with some crumbs sticking to it, indicating that the center is still moist. Start checking after about 15 minutes in the oven. DON’T OVERBAKE; you want the dessert to be moist and creamy.
Let the torte cool about 10 to 15 minutes on a rack and serve warm, with ice cream and, if you choose, a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Alternately, let it cool completely, cover, slice and re-warm just before serving.
This is an alteration of a Gourmet recipe.
Vera Dawson lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact Dawson with your comments about this column and/or your baking questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.