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The 3-Ingredient Walnut Cake That Offers A Taste Of Italy

nut cake with powdered sugar and fruit
nut cake with powdered sugar and fruit - Trending Now/Shutterstock

Italy is home to one of the most delicious, iconic, and universally emulated culinary cultures. Italian desserts are as decadently exquisite as their savory dishes, with cannoli, gelato, biscotti, and tiramisu among the most globally beloved to pair with their equally famous espresso drinks. However, a lesser-known — yet perfectly simple — three-ingredient walnut cake offers an authentic taste of Italy you have to try.

Originating in Italy's southern region of Calabria, walnut cake, or torta di noci, is a nationally treasured dish that consists of walnuts, eggs, and sugar. While there's no definitive origin story, torta di noci has been around for generations. The recipe makes an appearance in Pellegrino Artusi's famous cookbook, "Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well," which was published in 1891, and it is still revered as an authoritative text on Italian cuisine. The cake is not only an easy home-cooked dessert, but it's also served at cafes and restaurants accompanied by hot tea, coffee, or a dollop of cream.

Despite its short, flourless ingredient list, torta di noci is an elegant dessert that's delicately sweet and dense. Ground walnuts act as both the flour and the fat, while separated and beaten egg yolks and whites bind and leaven the cake. Toasted walnuts offer a balance of nutty, bitter, and toasted notes to round out the sweet richness of the egg yolks and sugar. Plus, it's a gluten-free dessert to give you a reprieve from all the pasta and pizza that probably preceded it.

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Read more: 30 Types Of Cake, Explained

Variations Of Torta Di Noci

cake with almonds and chocolate powder
cake with almonds and chocolate powder - Piedone/Shutterstock

While the original three-ingredient recipe is perfect in its simplicity, other variations exist that either swap or supplement ingredients. A typical supplementary ingredient is powdered sugar to create a sweeter, melt-in-your-mouth topping and a more aesthetic presentation. Another popular addition is lemon or orange zest — or even candied citron — mixed into the batter before cooking.

Other more elaborate variations add cocoa powder, chocolate chips or vanilla to the batter. Breakfast variations supplement the ground walnuts with a small portion of flour and butter, stuffing the torta with ricotta or mascarpone. If walnuts aren't your favorite, hazelnuts and almonds are great alternatives for the nutty, rich flour. If you want to play up the nuttiness of the cake, you can use amaretto, another famously Italian liqueur. If you'd like a more elaborate or richer topping, Nutella, whipped ricotta and honey, sliced pears, or fresh berries would all offer wonderful complementary flavors and creamy or juicy textural contrasts to the dense walnut cake.

Read the original article on Tasting Table