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Chocolate Torta della Nonna

This is a classic torta della nonna recipe, but with a dark chocolate twist. Earlier when I made a traditional torta della nonna I kept thinking “but what if it were chocolate?” 

I normally keep things traditional here. I try to recreate desserts I’ve had while traveling or heard about from friends abroad. But this time I just really needed to answer that question.

a slice of chocolate torta della nonna on a white plate
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a slice taken out of a chocolate torta della nonna
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This chocolate torta della nonna recipe is the same principle as the original, but I swapped in chocolate pasta frolla and chocolate pastry cream.

MetricCups
CHOCOLATE PASTA FROLLA:
300g plain flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

200g unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
115g confectioners’ sugar
Zest of 1 lemon

1 large egg
Yolk from 1 large egg


CHOCOLATE CREMA PASTICCERA:
100g granulated sugar
30g cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Yolks from 5 large eggs

480ml whole milk
Zest of 1 lemon

100g dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped
30g unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


EGG WASH:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water


TOPPING:
50g pine nuts
Confectioners’ sugar
CHOCOLATE PASTA FROLLA:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Zest of 1 lemon

1 large egg
Yolk from 1 large egg


CHOCOLATE CREMA PASTICCERA:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Yolks from 5 large eggs

2 cups whole milk
Zest of 1 lemon

3 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (70%), finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


EGG WASH:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water


TOPPING:
1/3 cup pine nuts
Confectioners’ sugar

Prepare the Chocolate Pasta Frolla

ingredients for chocolate pasta frolla
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1. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt:

Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

2. Combine the butter and sugar:

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a rubber spatula, combine the butter, confectioners’ sugar, and zest and mix until smooth.

3. Add the egg and egg yolk:

Add the egg and the egg yolk and mix until combined.

4. Add the flour mixture:

Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. The dough should just come together into a smooth ball. As soon as it does, stop mixing or the pastry will lose its delicate short texture.

5. Rest and chill:

Wrap the dough in plastic and leave it to rest in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

chocolate pasta frolla dough
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Prepare the Chocolate Crema Pasticcera

ingredients for chocolate pastry cream
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1. Stir together sugar, cornstarch, salt:

Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a mixing bowl.

2. Whisk in the egg yolks:

Whisk in the egg yolks and mix until pale and smooth, about 1 minute.

separating the eggs
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3. Bring milk to a simmer:

Combine the milk and the lemon zest in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

4. Add the milk to the yolk mixture:

When the milk comes to a simmer, remove it from the heat. Slowly pour the hot milk into the yolk mixture a splash at a time, whisking constantly.

5. Cook the pastry cream:

Transfer the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Then continue to cook for 1 more minute.

6. Whisk in the chocolate:

Remove the pastry cream from the heat. Whisk in the chopped chocolate and cubed butter until melted and completely incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract.

chopped chocolate on a cutting board
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7. Strain and chill:

Pour the pastry cream through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cream. Refrigerate until cool.

chocolate pastry cream in a mixing bowl with a whisk
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Assemble the Tart

1. Preheat the oven:

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Butter and flour a 9-inch (24cm) tart pan or pie dish.

2. Roll out the dough:

Take the pastry out of the refrigerator. Unwrap the dough, dust it with flour and place it on a lightly floured work surface.

Divide the dough into two pieces: 2/3 of the dough for one piece and the remaining 1/3 for the other.

Use a rolling pin to roll the larger piece of dough into a circle, making sure it is slightly larger than the tart pan so there is enough dough to go up the sides.

3. Line the tart pan:

Carefully transfer the dough into the pan. Gently press the dough into place without stretching the dough or the sides will shrink while it bakes. Trim any excess dough. Prick all over with a fork.

4. Fill the tart:

Fill the tart with the cooled chocolate pastry cream and level the top.

assembling the chocolate torta della nonna and a bowl of pine nuts
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5. Top the tart:

Roll out the remaining piece of dough just large enough to cover the tart. Trim any excess dough from the edges. Seal the tart by pinching the edges together with your fingers or using the tines of a fork.

sealing the chocolate torta della nonna with a fork
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6. Sprinkle on the pine nuts:

Beat an egg with a teaspoon of water in a small bowl to make an egg wash. Brush the top of the cake lightly with the egg wash. Sprinkle the pine nuts over the top of the tart.

pine nuts scattered on the top of the chocolate torta della nonna
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7. Bake:

Bake the tart in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

8. Cool:

Allow the tart to cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar and slicing.

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