Flourless Chocolate Cake Finds an Ancestor in Italy

Food was not what drew me to Ferrara, a walled city just east of Bologna, Italy, where the powerful Este family was in control for centuries. At every turn as I strolled through this handsome, gracious city, I found historical landmarks. And as a delectable bonus, on every menu, chocolate cake.

Ferrara is known for a particular type of chocolate cake called la torta tenerina. The name refers to the cake’s almost creamy interior, which emerges enclosed in a thin, fragile, yet crisp crust.

It’s a simple confection, hardly more than an inch thick, and rarely embellished with more than a generous dusting of powdered sugar.

Another name is Queen of Montenegro, because the cake is said to have been created in 1900 when Elena of Montenegro ascended the throne of Italy with her husband, Victor Emmanuel III. In local dialect, the cake is called tacolenta, which means sticky, a reference to its soft, nearly molten center.

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