Arlene's Winning Torta Negra


When we put the call out for your favorite holiday recipes in our newsletter, we had no idea that we'd get a submission that so perfectly fits what Stella Nonna is all about - family, comfort food, and cooking inspired by our grandmothers. That's exactly what our lovely customer Arlene Passini sent us. A rich, decadent, perfect-for-the-holidays traditional family recipe passed down from her nonna, Teresina Pellegrini. It's a beautiful recipe with a nice family tradition attached to it and we hope you love it as much as we and Arlene's family do. Oh, and for those of you who are gluten-intolerant, this is a decadent dessert you can make and enjoy without worry - there's not a single gluten-containing ingredient in the recipe. Thank you so much to Arlene for sharing!

1  1/2 lbs almonds, blanched*
12 eggs, separated
1 lb sugar
3/4 C anisette liquor

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place the blanched almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and brown in oven until dark. Watch them carefully to keep them from burning.

Remove almonds from oven and cool. Once cool, grind them in a food processor until they start to form a paste, but not too creamy! 

Turn the oven off or reduce heat to 325ºF for baking the cake - the batter takes an hour to mix, so you . 

Cream sugar and egg yolks together by hand or with a mixer until light yellow in color. Mix this by hand with the almond paste and anisette liquor, alternating almond paste and anisette liquor as it thickens, together in a large bowl. Mix by hand with a wooden spoon for one hour.

Beat egg whites until thick (stiff peaks form) and fold gently into batter.

Butter a 9x12 glass pyrex dish, then line with parchment paper and butter the parchment paper. Smooth batter into prepared baking dish.

Place in 325ºF until done, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check in 45 minutes with toothpick - it will come out clean when done. 

The cake will raise, then sink when taken out and cooled and will have a light crust on top. Cut into bite-sized squares when cool. Rich and yummy!

*To blanch almonds, place them in a heatproof container and pour boiling water to cover them. Let the almonds soak for about 1 minute, not much longer. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Pat the nuts dry and slip the skins off by pinching/squeezing the almonds. Watch out, the almond might shoot out of its skin and across the room!


Tabitha Steager

Tabitha Steager Communications, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia v8k2p7