Parrozzo di Pescara

Chocolate-Covered Almond Cake from Pescara

The half-sphere shape of the parrozzo recalls the pane rozzo, or “rough bread” — a loaf eaten by those who could not afford pasta — from which this dessert takes its name. If you do not have a heat-proof -quart bowl in which to bake the parrozzo, use a 9-inch springform pan.

This refined version of the cake is typical of the Pasticceria Berardo at the end of the Corso near the shore of the Adriatic in Pescara, Abruzzi’s seaside resort.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole, blanched almonds
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Method

Butter and flour a -quart Pyrex bowl or a 9-inch springform pan and tap out the excess flour.

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, grind the almonds with half the sugar to a fine powder. Whisk the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and whisk in the almond-and-sugar mixture, then the almond extract. Whisk or whip by machine. Fold in the flour and butter.

In a clean, dry bowl, whip the egg whites with the salt until they hold a very soft peak. Whipping faster, add the remaining sugar in a very slow stream, whipping until the egg whites hold a soft peak. Stir one-fourth of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the rest with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared bowl or pan and bake the parrozzo for about 45 to 50 minutes, until well risen and firm to the touch. Cool in the bowl or pan on a rack for 15 minutes, then invert onto the rack, remove the bowl or pan, and finish cooling.

Place the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl over a pan of hot (but not simmering) water. Stir to melt the chocolate and stir in the oil. Cool slightly.

Slide the cooled parrozzo onto a platter or cardboard disk. Brush off any crumbs and spread with the chocolate. Chill briefly to set the chocolate. Keep the parrozzo at a cool room temperature or in the refrigerator. If refrigerated, bring to room temperature before serving.