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Chocolate-Amaretti Torte

An elegant, deeply chocolate torte that goes into the oven 15 minutes after you unwrap the first of the crunchy amaretti. The cake is only 1 inch high, but its dark chocolate-almond combination is intense. Serve in very thin slices with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. Decadent with a glass of Tawny Port.

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
3 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, such as Lindt or Tobler
6 large, double amaretti (Italian macaroons available in specialty stores. Look for the Saronno brand.)
3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Cocoa or confectioners' sugar, optional
Heavy cream, lightly whipped

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan. Line the bottom with waxed paper and butter the paper. Dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Melt the chocolates in the top of a double boiler over hot water or in a bowl in a microwave; set aside.

Place the amaretti and almonds in a food processor, and pulse several times, until the mixture is evenly ground. Turn out onto a sheet of waxed paper and reserve. Put the butter, sugar and eggs into the work bowl and process until the mixture is satiny smooth and no longer grainy, about 3 minutes. Stop to scrape the bowl occasionally to ensure that the batter is properly blended. Pour in the reserved amaretti-almond powder and the melted chocolate. Pulse just until the mixture is well combined.

Turn the batter into the prepared pan and bake 25 to 30 minutes. The cake will dome slightly and the top will look dry and, perhaps, cracked. Cool the cake on a rack for 30 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan and turn out the cake. Peel off the paper, invert and cool right-side up on the rack.

Serve at room temperature. Dust the top with cocoa or confectioners' sugar if desired. Slice thin; it is richer than it looks. Wrapped in plastic, the cake will keep for 3 days at room temperature; wrapped airtight it can be frozen for 1 month. Serves 10 to 14.

Dorie Greenspan

Thursday, February 10, 2000

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