Torta al Vino Rosso con Fregola – Red Wine Chocolate Cake with Strawberries

torta vino rosso wine bike tours italy italiaoutdoors food and wineThis recipe was recently featured in an article in La Cucina Italiana magazine, entitled Italy’s Best Desserts. The author is Francine Segan, a food historian and the author of a new book, Dolci: Italy’s Sweets. I loved the article, Francine offered some very traditional sweets that included some wonderfully unique flavor combinations. Her background as a food historian shines through as she shares the story behind the recipes, something I try and share with our guests during our cooking classes on our culinary bike tours.

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Francine was taught this recipe from Paola, a woman from Bologna who shares her regions (Emilia Romagna) cuisine with foreign visitors through Home Food Italy (homefood.it). She explained that this cake is usually served with a glass of dry red wine. As this cake is not overly sweet, Italians will serve it after a meat-based secondi with a red wine sauce, so guests can continue to enjoy the same red wine from dinner through dessert, which is usually frowned upon in Italy. The fruit of the wine provides a wonderful foil for the dense, dark chocolate.

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Francine includes raspberries in her recipe, but I decided to use strawberries instead, as the season is just around the corner. Browsing through Lynne Rosetto Kasper’s A Splendid Table, I found the perfect strawberry recipe – Fragole al Vino Rosso. I thought this the perfect accompaniment to the torta, with one simple change; I replace lemon juice with balsamic vinegar, one of Emilia Romagna’s signature products, and a perfect pairing with fresh strawberries.

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Torta al Vino Rosso

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, separated
5 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate (80% or more), melted
1 cup dry red wine

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease a 9 or 10-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together four, baking powder, and salt, set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, 1 at a time, scraping bowl as necessary. Add chocolate; beat just to combine. In 3 additions, add wine to butter mixture, alternating with flour mixture.

In a large bowl, using a clean whisk beater, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup sugar and beat until the whites are firm and glossy.
Using a spatula, gently fold whites into batter just until no white streaks remain. Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth top with spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.

Transfer cake to wire rack; let cool in pan 10 minutes. Run a knife around pan to loosen cake, release from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.

 

torta vino rosso close wine bike tours italy italiaoutdoors food and wineFragole al Vino Rosso

1 cup fruity red wine (Valpolicella, Merlot)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 pint ripe strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced

Combine the wine, balsamic vinegar, and sugar in a deep bowl. Add the strawberries. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature. Then refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving. Keep them much longer than 2 hours softens the fruit too much.

About chefbikeski

Culinary Director and Owner of Italiaoutdoors Food and Wine. Creator of uniquely personalized active (bike, ski, hike, walk) tours in Italy. Small groups, owner/expert led, customized to your desires, your fitness levels, your budget. We personally design and lead each and every tour ourselves, to deliver the best in personalized service.
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