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Published February 12, 2013, 11:40 PM

Home with the Lost Italian: Chocolate torte sure to inspire passion

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re looking for a decadent idea for the chocolate-lover in your life, this just may be your lucky day.

By: Tony and Sarah Nasello, INFORUM

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re looking for a decadent idea for the chocolate-lover in your life, this just may be your lucky day.

This Valentine’s season, we’re focusing on food as an aphrodisiac by sharing two of our most popular recipes from Sarello’s.

Last week, we featured Sarello’s Red Curry Scallops, which is the perfect dish to begin your romantic evening. But the end of the meal is your chance to leave a lasting impression, and if you do it right, it hardly matters what happens in the middle.

This week, our focus is on the perfect dessert aphrodisiac, and we think we’ve found it with our Flourless Chocolate Torte. Chocolate has powers beyond a typical food and sits proudly at the top of the aphrodisiac list.

Its ability to soothe, relax, excite and create happiness is regaled by chocolate-lovers around the world. If you have someone in your life who falls into this category, then this may soon become your go-to dessert.

We have guests who come into Sarello’s just to enjoy a piece of this rich, sweet and decadent cake. Giovanni looks forward to it as an after-school treat on occasion, and says that this dessert makes his “taste buds all tingly.”

Whether it’s romance you’re seeking, or you just want to impress your friends and family with an amazing dessert, this Flourless Chocolate Torte is great on many levels.

First, our recipe has only five ingredients, so it’s easy to prepare, and memorize (one ingredient per finger).

Next, it’s gluten-free and nut-free, which means that this cake can be enjoyed by just about anyone.

And third, it’s versatile. For an elegant after-dinner presentation, bake it in a 10-inch round cake pan and dust the top with powdered sugar just before serving. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream and fresh berries. To balance the richness of the torte, melt a good-quality vanilla ice cream to use as a vanilla sauce, and place it on the plate next to the torte.

For more casual settings, use a 10-by-15-inch jelly roll pan or 9-by-13-inch baking dish to create sweet little bar-sized pieces.

People may initially mistake the bars for brownies, but one bite quickly alerts the eater that they are tasting something different and special. We serve our bars with a dollop of whipped cream topped with a fresh berry.

Tony recommends a nice tawny port as the perfect wine pairing for the torte, claiming that this food and beverage combination will create fireworks. I’ll have to let you know later if that’s true.

A couple years ago, a young man was planning to propose to his sweetheart over dinner at Sarello’s. He asked for our help to make his proposal special and memorable. Tony suggested serving a piece of our Flourless Chocolate Torte with the words “Will you marry me?” written on the plate next to the cake. The young man liked this idea, and the proposal was a great success.

Everyone loves chocolate and romance, and when you put the two together, anything can happen.

Flourless Chocolate Torte

1 lb. unsalted butter (4 sticks)

1 cup coffee, brewed (regular, espresso or decaf are fine)

1 cup sugar

1 lb. quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into pieces

8 whole eggs

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine butter, coffee and sugar in a pot over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Whisk often to ensure all the butter is melted. Turn off the heat and whisk in the chocolate until it is incorporated into the mixture. Add the eggs one at a time, aggressively whisking after each one until the batter is smooth.

Pour into a greased and parchment-lined 10-inch round cake pan. To help prevent burning, use a water bath: Place the cake pan into a larger baking dish, then fill that with water halfway up the side of the cake pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes at 300 degrees. Insert a toothpick into the center to check for doneness. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Remove the pan from the water bath and cool for at least 30 minutes or until ready to serve. Refrigerate if serving later. The cake will be higher at first, but will fall slightly in the middle after cooling.

Cut into pieces and serve with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

You also can create a vanilla sauce by melting a high-quality vanilla ice cream. This is a great complement to the cake and helps balance the richness of the chocolate.

To store: Cover and refrigerate for up to one week.

Tony’s tips:

Use parchment paper to aid in removing the cake from the baking pan. To do this, place the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment and trace it with a pencil. Cut the piece out, and place it inside the already greased pan.

To remove the cake, place the cake pan over a warm stove element (med-low) for 30-60 seconds, rotating it constantly to prevent burning.

Flip the pan over onto a cutting board and tap the bottom of the pan to remove the cake. Remove the parchment paper, then place another cutting board or serving plate on the top. Flip it over so that the cake’s top is facing upward.

When slicing the cake, dip your knife in hot water after each slice to create a clean cut.

To make into bar-size: Use a 15-by-10-inch jelly roll pan or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Grease the bottom and line with parchment paper for easy removal.

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