This unusual pastry is a specialty of Mantua’s, although variations are to be found as far south as Bologna (see Torta Ricciolina,). A cake pan is filled with alternating layers of an almond-and-macaroon mixture and thinly shredded, raw egg-pasta dough. After baking, the pasta is crisp, sweet, and delicate, almost like the shredded phyllo pastries of the Middle East.
For the pasta dough, place the flour on a work surface and make a well in the center. In the well, mix the salt, eggs, and rum. Gradually draw the flour into the egg mixture to make a firm dough, adding a little more rum or brandy if the dough is too dry. Knead the dough well and set it aside to rest, wrapped in plastic, for about 30 minutes.
While the dough is resting, prepare the almond mixture. Combine the almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and reduce to a powder. Add the macaroons and continue processing until they are also reduced to a powder. Sift in the cocoa powder and process a few seconds, then pulse in the vanilla. Set aside.
Divide the dough into
Loosely roll up the sheets of pasta dough, one at a time, from one of the short ends. Slice the rolls of dough crosswise with a sharp knife, making fine shreds of dough.
Butter and flour a
Serve the torta in thin wedges, preferably with a glass of sweet wine, since the torta is dry and crisp. Keep any leftover torta loosely covered at room temperature.
© 1990 Nick Malgieri. All rights reserved.