High Altitude Baking: Fast and fabulous brownie torte (recipe)
High Country Baking
Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
Looking for a big bang for your baking buck? This torte, embarrassingly easy to prepare yet lip-smackingly luscious to eat, is your answer. The rich, deep chocolate flavor and soft, almost-gooey texture of a brownie is fashioned into a European-style torte. Served warm, with ice cream and a little sauce, it’s a dessert that appeals to almost everyone.
In this version, it’s accompanied by coffee ice cream and chocolate sauce, but feel free to substitute. Raspberry sorbet or whipped cream with fresh berries make a great summer topping, and vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce always work well. Overbaking is the only thing that can ruin this gem; take care not to do so.
Fast and Fabulous Brownie Torte
(Make in an 8-inch round, shiny metal cake pan or an 8 ½-inch spring-form pan, preferably nonstick.)
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large eggs
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar, preferably Baker’s
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
Coffee ice cream, optional
Chocolate sauce, optional
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. If you’re using a spring-form pan, flip over the bottom, so the rim faces down (This will allow you to cut the baked torte more easily). Grease the pan with a flour-vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper, and grease the paper. Set aside.
Step 2: Combine 1½ cups of the chocolate chips and the butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at a low-medium temperature for 2 to 3 minutes, until almost fully melted. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the mixture is completely melted, smooth and well-blended. Set aside. If hot to the touch, cool slightly.
Step 3: Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and salt to a mixing bowl, and whisk or beat with an electric mixer until frothy. Whisk in the chocolate mixture or beat it in with an electric mixer on low-medium speed only until blended. Use a silicone or rubber spatula to fold in the flour and remaining ½ cup of chocolate chips.
Step 4: Pour batter into the prepared pan, leveling and smoothing the top. Bake until the top is shiny and set but the interior feels slightly soft and spongy when you press lightly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a little chocolate on it (Test several places; if you hit a chocolate chip rather than the batter, the toothpick may come out carrying a glob of chocolate). This takes from 22 to 30 minutes in my oven, but don’t rely on time; judge doneness by the feel and appearance of the torte. Overbaking this beauty takes away all its charm.
Step 5: Cool on a rack for 15 minutes. If necessary, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the edges, pressing toward the pan rather than the torte. Invert the pan, and remove the torte. (If using a spring-form, invert the pan and remove the sides and bottom.) Carefully peel off the parchment paper. Turn the torte right side up. Cool until slightly warm and serve. Or cool completely, store well-covered overnight or freeze.
Step 6: If stored, when you’re ready to serve the torte, cut it into slices, place them in a 325-degree oven to warm slightly. (They’re best when just warm to the touch; you don’t want them hot or they’ll get too soft.) Top with coffee ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce (a splash of Kahlua is a welcome addition for adults).
This is a variation of a recipe from Gourmet Magazine. Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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