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Jul 9, 2019

Angela Pinkerton’s Torta Caprese With Cacao Nib Gelato And Cherry Confitura

Pastry Chef Angela Pinkerton (Che Fico, Eleven Madison Park) is a talent, a creative force in pastry, and a friend. She has been there for us several times as a volunteer chef for our annual 12 Nights of Chocolate fundraiser for the SF/Marin Food Bank, and she recently joined us on a chef’s trip to the Dominican Republic to see how cacao is grown, fermented, and dried, and to learn how the chocolate-making process begins. While there, she visited Zorzal Cacao, and the gelato for this dessert takes inspiration from her visit to the origin. Angela tells us that steeping the nibs in cold milk and cream overnight helps extract, “the fruity perfume essence I remember from eating the raw cacao beans during the trip, and the toasty cocoa flavors we expect to enjoy.” Angela currently serves this dessert at Che Fico Alimentari as a memento to what she experienced with us in the DR.

Torta Caprese with Cocoa Nib Gelato

Time: 90 minutes active time, plus overnight steeping
Serves: 10-12


  • 1 ½ cups/180g walnuts
  • 4 cups/342g 70% Camino Verde, Ecuador ground chocolate 
  • ¼ cup/55g cocoa butter 
  • 6 ounces/165g unsalted butter 
  • 6 eggs, separated 
  • 1 ¾ cup/210g powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon/4g sea salt 
  • 2 Tablespoons dark rum or Maraschino (optional)

Grease a 9” round cake pan and line the pan with parchment, then grease the parchment.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Lightly toast the walnuts and let them cool. Chop the nuts until very fine. 

In a medium saucepan over a hot water bath, melt the chocolate, cocoa butter, and butter together. Remove from heat and stir the mixture until cools.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and sea salt until light and fluffy. 

In separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

Combine the cooled chocolate mixture with the yolks until thoroughly combined, then add the walnuts. 

Carefully fold in the egg whites in three batches; the batter may look broken, but it will smooth out once it’s fully incorporated. Stir in the rum or Maraschino, if using. 

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until a crust forms on top. (Note that a cake tester will not come out totally clean, but it shouldn’t have crumbs stuck to it. It will be coated in chocolate, but not gooey).

Cool the cake completely at room temperature. It can be served immediately or wrapped and chilled overnight. To remove the cake from the pan, quickly and evenly warm the pan on top of a burner or with a torch and invert the cake onto a plate. Peel off the parchment before cutting. For best results, slice the cake with a hot, clean knife.


(Makes 1 quart. Note that you will need a thermometer and an ice cream maker.)

  • ¾ cup/100g Kokoa Kamili, Tanzania cocoa nibs
  • 1 cup/225g heavy cream 
  • 1 ½ cups/675g whole milk 
  • ½ cup/50g dried milk powder 
  • ¾ cup/155g sugar 
  • ¼ cup/38g dextrose

Lightly toast the nibs in a 350°F oven for 5-7 minutes just until you can smell the chocolate. Combine the hot nibs with the cream and milk and let them steep overnight. 

Strain the nibs from the milk and cream and heat the milk mixture to 104°F

Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the milk powder, sugar, and dextrose. 

Once the milk reaches temperature, whisk in the dry ingredients and continue to heat the milk until it reaches 185°F.

Remove from heat and cool the ice cream base in an ice bath, stirring often. You can cure the base in the refrigerator overnight. Spin the base in an ice cream machine following the manufacturer’s instructions and freeze until you’re ready to use it.


  • 4 cups cherries 
  • ¾ cup/151g sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon citric acid 
  • 1 Tablespoon dark rum or Maraschino 
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice 

Pre-freeze a metal mixing bowl.

Pit the cherries and cut them in half. In a medium saucepan, combine them with the sugar and then cook over medium-high heat until al dente, about 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the cherries and transfer them to a frozen bowl to stop the cooking. 

Continue to cook the remaining syrup until it thickens, about another 5-7 minutes. Pour the syrup into the bowl with the cherries and stir in the citric acid. Cool the bowl in the freezer for 15-20 minutes or until chilled and thickened. Add the rum or Maraschino and the lemon juice to thin the sauce as needed. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. 


(Makes about 1 pint)

  • 2 cups/300g walnuts 
  • 2 cups/500g water 
  • 2 cups/500g sugar 
  • kosher salt to taste

Chop the walnuts into bite-sized pieces, then sift out the dust. Bring the water and sugar to a boil, add the nuts, then reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, until the nuts have become semi translucent and saturated with sugar. 

Drain the nuts from the syrup and spread them in a single layer onto parchment-lined sheet trays. Sprinkle them lightly with the salt and bake in the oven at 300°F for 15-20min until the nuts are dry, brown, and toasted, stirring halfway through to prevent clumps. Cool completely, then store them airtight in a cool, dry place.

To assemble the dish:

Warm slices of the cake in a 425°F oven until hot to the touch, about 3-5 minutes. Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the cherry confitura on one side of the cake. Sprinkle on the candied walnuts and top with a scoop of the gelato. Serve immediately.


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