Orange Chocolate Almond Macaroon Torte for Passover

During Passover, my otherwise non-observant husband does not eat leavened bread.  Since he has such a sweet tooth, I make him a Passover dessert for the week.  This year I came across a recipe for an almond macaroon torte in Bon Appetit magazine at a friend’s house and decided to try it out.  I halved the recipe (which was more than enough for eight servings) and cut down on the chocolate.  In retrospect, this was a mistake because there wasn’t enough to frost the sides, so next time I will use the 10 ounces of chocolate in the halved version.  Still it was delicious and enjoyed for everyone – observers and non-observers alike.  Below is my halved version with my notes.

Almond Macaroon Torte with Chocolate Frosting and Orange Compote

Ingredients:

Orange Syrup

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

Peel of ½ of a large orange (use a vegetable peeler)

I made this a day early and removed the peel after soaking for awhile (I thought it would be too bitter if I left it in), and stored the syrup in the refrigerator.

Almond Macaroons

Non-stick spray

1 ¼ cup slivered almonds

½ cup plus 1 ½ tablespoon sugar

1 large pinch of kosher salt

1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped out

3 large egg whites (I used ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon egg whites from a carton)

Chocolate Frosting and Compote

10 oz. bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), chopped

½ cup sliced almonds

1 large orange, peeled and sectioned, membrane removed

Method:

Make Orange Syrup:

1.  Combine ½ cup sugar and ½ water and orange peel in a medium    saucepan.  Stir   over medium heat until sugar dissolves and syrup comes to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 1 minute.

Bake Macaroons:

  1. Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack on bottom third of oven and preheat to 325º F.  Draw two 6 x 4-inch rectangles on two pieces of parchment paper (so you have four rectangles in total).  Turn over, spray, and place on two baking sheets.
  2. Process slivered almonds, ½ cup sugar, scraped vanilla bean seeds, and salt in the bowl of a food processor until finely ground (but not a paste!).
  3. Beat egg whites with a mixer until soft peaks appear. Add remaining 1 ½ tablespoon sugar, ½ tablespoon at a time, and beat until stiff, but not dry.   Note:  Make sure the peaks are stiff – I think I stopped too soon, and my batter spread a lot during baking!  I trimmed the shapeless blobs into rectangles after they were baked, so my layers were probably thinner than what they were supposed to be.
  4. Bake layers until golden and almost firm to the touch in the center, reversing sheets after 20 minutes, 30 to 35 minutes total.  Cool on sheets.  Note:  My baking time was 20 minutes in total, probably because my layers were too thin!  It would be a good idea to watch it carefully after about 15 minutes.

Make Frosting and Compote:

  1. Place 5 tablespoons of orange syrup in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium low heat (reserve remaining syrup).  Add chocolate to sauce pan and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.  Cool until frosting begins to thicken, stirring often.
  2. Put orange slices in orange syrup.

Assemble  Torte:

  1. Place one macaroon layer on platter.  Spread ¼ cup frosting evenly over layer.  Repeat twice.  Top with last (fourth) layer, flat side up.  Spread remaining frosting on top and sides.  Press sliced almonds onto top (or sides, as in original recipe) of torte.  Serve with orange compote.

The torte can be made 1 day ahead, stored at room temperature.

Makes about 8-10 small servings

Adapated from Bon Appetit (April 2010)

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