Torrone molle – uncooked chocolate cake
From Elizabeth David’s Christmas
This gorgeous invention needs barely a couple of minutes actual cooking and the rest of the preparation is of the utmost simplicity. The word torrone is Italian for all kinds of nougat, and molle means soft. In this recipe, which came well over thirty years ago from a Tuscan cook called Lina, the soft nougat is moulded in a tin and turned out when well chilled.
Ingredients are 180g/6oz each of unsweetened cocoa, butter, ground almonds, sugar and plain Petit Beurre biscuits; 1 whole egg and 1 yolk; a little sweet almond oil for the tin. I give this recipe in rather smaller quantities than that in which Lina used to make it. She had a number of fussy grown-ups and an appreciative schoolboy to feed; but it is rather an extravagant cake to make on a large scale.
Work the cocoa and butter together until you have a soft paste. Stir in the ground almonds. In a thick saucepan melt the sugar, moistened with a little water, over gentle heat. Add the cocoa mixture. Beat in the whole egg and the yolk. Now break the biscuits into pieces about the size of almonds. Stir or fold these into the soft nougat preparation. This last operation has to be performed gently so that the biscuits don’t crumble. The idea is that when the torrone molle is finally turned out and cut, the little pieces of biscuit should look like whole almonds studding the chocolate mass.
Have ready either a turban mould or a simple loaf tin of 1 litre capacity, brushed with the sweet almond oil. Turn your prepared torrone into the tin, smooth it well down, cover it with a piece of foil or oiled parchment and leave it in the refrigerator until well chilled, preferably overnight. It should then turn out easily.
I published this recipe in Italian Food in 1954, and it has since been a good deal adapted in various ways. Some cooks think it’s a good idea to add a spoonful or two of run or whisky, others add a little black coffee, others again a few drops of bitter almond essence. I’m not sure if any of these additions are real improvements, but if you choose to try one or other of them, be very careful not to overdo either the liquid content or the flavouring.