My friend Sally is a committed vegan. Although I would never want to adopt it as a lifestyle choice, I have recently begun to relish the challenge of vegan cookery. It’s fair to say that some experiments have come out better than others- this one was more successful, and more edible, than the green tea tofu ‘cheesecake’ disaster.
Main courses are relatively straightforward – we made a lovely Japanese vegetable curry with coconut milk – but it’s desserts and cakes that present more of a challenge. It makes you realise what a vital role eggs play in binding ingredients together and helping things to rise. The strategy I opted for here was to use almond milk to bind, and baking powder to help with rising, but it is still quite dense.
This torte is quite intensely chocolatey (chocolate being the primary ingredient), so needs to be served in modest slices. Some soya cream would be a good accompaniment to lighten things up a bit. The caramelised almond topping adds a pleasing crunch as a contrast to all the gooey chocolate beneath – you can use either honey or agave syrup depending on how much of a hardcore vegan you are.
For the torte:
220g dark chocolate
150g ground almonds
150ml almond milk
1 tsp baking powder
For the caramelised almond topping:
50g flaked almonds
2 tbsp agave syrup or honey
You will also need a 20cm cake tin, lined with baking parchment.
Preheat the oven to 160° C. Break the chocolate in pieces and put it in a small pan with the almond milk. Heat gently, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted. Mix the ground almonds, sugar and baking powder together in a bowl, then pour the chocolate over and mix to combine. Pour into the tin and bake for 20 minutes until the top is firm. The centre will be slightly wobbly, but this is fine.
The torte can be eaten straight out of the oven, but it’ll be runny. In order to firm it up, leave to cool in the tin, then chill for 2 hours. To make the caramelised almond topping, toast the almonds in a dry pan until just starting to go brown. Drizzle over the agave syrup/honey and let bubble away for a few seconds. Remove the torte from its tin, then pour the almonds over the top.
The torte can be warmed in individual slices by heating them in the microwave for about 30 seconds.