Parrozzo Abruzzese

Chocolate-Covered Almond Cake

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The name of this cake derives from ‘pan rozzo’, a bread made by Abruzzese shepherds from ground corn, water and olive oil. In 1920, a baker called Luigi D’Amico, from the coastal town of Pescara, took this rather characterless example of cucina povera (or ‘the poor kitchen’), and elevated it by adding ground sweet almonds from Abruzzo’s abundant almond groves and coating it with chocolate. Its popularity spread beyond Pescara, and parrozzo is now one of the region’s iconic sweets. In fact, the Pescaran poet and writer Gabriel D’Annunzio was so inspired by its flavours that he composed a poem about it, ‘Song of the Parrozzo’.

Ingredients

  • 75 g/3 oz/½ cup blanched almonds
  • 130 g/4 ½ oz/scant ¾ cup caster/superfine sugar
  • 75 g/3 oz/6 tbsp unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 50 g/2 oz/½ cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • 50 g/2 oz/½ cup cornflour/cornstarch
  • 150 g/5 oz cooking chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and grease a 23cm/9in cake tin or pan. Put the almonds and 40 g/ oz sugar in a mortar and pound with a pestle into a fine powder. Alternatively, you can use a food processor.
  2. Melt the butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, then leave it to cool without letting it harden.
  3. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk, gradually adding the remaining sugar, until light and fluffy. Gradually add the almond mixture alternately with the flour, cornflour and butter, stirring constantly.

  4. Put the egg whites into a clean, grease-free bowl and whisk until they form stiff peaks. Fold them gently into the mixture.
  5. Pour the cake mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, then use it to cover the top of the cake, spreading it evenly with a metal spatula. Allow the chocolate to harden, then serve.

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