A good dinner deserves a good dessert – and Victor made a good dessert!

Quite a few years ago we saw Lidia bake this cake on one of her shows. We thought it looked great, we were intrigued – and then promptly forgot about it. We saw it, again. Started paying attention – as in we really should make this.

Time went by. And, finally, Victor decided to make it today.

Mike and Barbara were up from South Carolina – coming back down from their trip much further north – and good friends always need a good dessert, right?!? Well… we think so! Dinner was a five hour affair, because we talktalktalk about everything under the sun.

We’re good at talking. And good at eating.

Dinner was the basic pasta, sausages, breads and rolls… lots of Onion Fig Jam with shavings of pecorino… Typical fare from the garden.

And then, dessert.

To say that the cake was spectacular is an understatement. It’s light, it’s dense, moist, yet dry. The mixture of flour and almond meal is perfection. The only sure thing is that after every bite you want another one.

I topped it with a dollop of vanilla and almond whipped cream just because.

It worked.

Almond Torta

Adapted from “Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy’’

  • 2 1/2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto
  • 2 cups almond flour or almond meal
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sliced blanched almonds
  • Confectioners’ sugar (for sprinkling)

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.
2. In a bowl, whisk the all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt to blend them.

3. In an electric mixer, cream the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat each on medium speed before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl several times.

4. Beat in the lemon rind and amaretto. Turn the speed to high and beat the batter for 1 minute or until very light.

5. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half the flour mixture just until it is incorporated. Beat in half the almond flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the remaining flour mixture and almond flour. Beat briefly on medium until the batter is smooth. On low speed again, beat in the chips until they are evenly distributed.

6. Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Scatter the sliced almonds on top.

7. Bake the torta in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, or until the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

8. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run the blade of a paring knife around the edge of the cake, then release the spring and remove the ring. Cool the cake completely. Cut it into wedges and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

I’m kinda glad we waited to make this because we got to share it with some good friends. We also had some Pistachio Cookies I had made yesterday for a neighbor’s party we missed. These pull together in the food processor and then freeze before baking. It’s a really simple recipe with only 5 ingredients!

Pistachio Cookies

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pistachios

In a food processor, process butter, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until smooth. Add flour and pulse until a dough forms. Stir in pistachios. Shape dough into two 8-inch-long logs, tightly wrap in plastic, and freeze until firm, 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut dough into 1/4-inch slices and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set and barely golden at edges, 10 to 15 minutes.

Cool and dust with powdered sugar.

They had cookies, BBQ Sauce and Salsa to take back home with them.

A great visit.

And now I need a nap.