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Mustacchioni - Miniature Chocolate Almond Tortes

By: 
Tina Wasserman
Miniature Chocolate Almond Tortes for the Jewish Holiday of Tu Bishvat

I adapted the following recipe, which has its roots in the port town of Trieste, Italy, from Claudia Roden's Book of Jewish Food. Many Jewish ships traded between Trieste and Livorno, opening trade from the New World to the Far East. In addition, the use of almonds is indicative of Spanish Jewish influence. Almond cultivation was among the primary occupations of Mediterranean Jews, and it was the Spanish Jews who first replaced flour with ground almonds in baking their tortas.

On Tu BiSh’vat, it is customary to eat foods containing the seven species and to bless them. These are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, dates, and olives. Although not mentioned in Deuteronomy, almonds also figure prominently in this celebration, as they are the first tree to flower in Israel at that time of year. 

Makes 24 mini cakes
Ingredients: 
7 ounces dark, bittersweet chocolate
1 cup of lightly roasted slivered almonds
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons orange liquor (Hallelujah from Israel or Grand Marnier)
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 24 paper cups in mini-muffin pans. Set aside.
  2. Break the chocolate into approximately 1/2-inch pieces and place in a processor work bowl, along with the remaining ingredients (or chop the chocolate and nuts with a knife to create 1/16-inch pieces and then combine).
  3. Pulse the processor on and off until the mixture forms a relatively smooth paste (it will still be a little coarse).
  4. Fill the mini-muffin papers 2/3 high and bake for approximately 10-12 minutes, until the tops are crisp but the insides are still soft.
  5. Serve warm or allow the muffins to come to room temperature before storing them in an airtight container. Enjoy!
Tina's Tidbits: 

  • Always use the pulse function when processing nuts or chocolate. This will throw the food up as it is cut rather than risking some portion of the food turning into a paste while the rest is not completely broken down.
  • When a recipe calls for eggs, always use large eggs (24 ounces per dozen). Using jumbo eggs (30 ounces per dozen) in the above recipe would add the equivalent of an extra egg and change the consistency of the finished product.
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