Italian is the theme for this month’s Inn at Meander Plantation’s Country Inn Cooking School here our Orange, Virginia wine country bed and breakfast. Our enthusiastic students mastered marinara and manicotti, did oh-so-good on osso bucco and finessed focaccia.
Italian desserts are pretty simple and often involve fruits. A grapefruit zabaglione was simple to make and incredible over fresh berries, and the espresso panna cotta with cranberry-pistachio biscotti was equally easy and amazingly delicious.
But the favorite dessert was the Chocolate Amaretti Cake. Ground amaretti cookies and almonds take the place of flour and give a gooey texture reminiscent of brownies. Topped with Amaretto Whipped Cream and fresh raspberries, it was an elegant finale to the Vintner Dinner that featured the wines of pioneering Virginia winemaker Gabriele Rausse.
Suzanne’s Dessert of the Week: Chocolate Amaretti Cake
Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis, The Food Network
- 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 1 cup almonds
- 1 cup amaretti cookies (about 2 ounces or 10-12 cookies)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup sugar
- zest from one orange
- 4 large eggs
- Unsweetened cocoa powder, Amaretto Whipped Cream and fresh raspberries, for garnishing
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray.
Microwave the chocolate until melted and smooth, about 1 minute.
Combine the almonds and cookies in processor. Process until the almonds and cookies are finely ground; remove and set aside. Place butter and sugar in the processor bowl and blend until creamy and smooth. Add orange zest and pulse until incorporated.
Add the eggs 1 at a time, blending until well mixed. Add the nut mixture and melted chocolate. Process until blended. Clean the sides of the bowl after each addition and blend again.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center puffs and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to serving tray.
Before serving, dust top with cocoa powder. Top each slice with a dollop of Amaretto Whipped Cream and fresh raspberries for garnish. Makes 12 servings.