Chocolate & cherry torta di nonna

by Celia Harvey | Cuisine issue #150
Serves: 8Torta della Nonna ('grandma' s cake') is often made with a ricotta custard and pine nuts, but to refine its rustic nature a little I have replaced these components with a chocolate custard.

You could use sliced plums or peaches in place of the cherries

Sweet pastry
100g unsalted butter, cubed
300g flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk

Butter and line a 24cm springform tin with baking paper.

Place the butter, flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and yolk then pulse until the dough just comes together. Turn out and press the mixture together with your fingers – it doesn’t have to be too smooth.

Using your fingertips, gently press the pastry over the base and up the sides of the tin, working quickly so that the dough doesn’t become too warm. It is meant to be a rustic-looking tart shell, so don’t worry too much about making it perfect. Refrigerate while you are making the chocolate cream.

For the chocolate cream
150g caster sugar
4 eggs
3 tablespoons flour
500ml full-cream milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or brandy
200g 70% dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
200g fresh cherries, stoned

Preheat the oven to 170°C. In a bowl, whisk the sugar and eggs together until thick and creamy, then whisk
in the flour.

Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan then slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking well to combine. Stir in the vanilla then return the mixture to the saucepan and place over low heat. Add the chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. It will thicken quickly, so take care to whisk constantly and keep an eye on it.

Pour the thickened custard into the chilled tart shell. Sprinkle the cherries over the custard then bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the tin before carefully removing and cutting into slices.

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