Torta al Vino Bianco is Italian for Cake with White Wine. You can absolutely pair a glass of sweet wine with this decadent dessert, yet the translation refers to white wine being incorporated into the cake batter. Curve your chocolate craving with this wine infused cocoa cake, drenched in homemade chocolate ganache and cloaked with fragrant poached pears.
As an Italian by blood and American by birth, when I find someone who has an Italian family and love for food, like me, I am drawn to them. Enter Amy, my best friend.
I met Amy at college, as we both were in the same Elementary and Special Education classes. We studied together, hung out sometimes and enjoyed one another’s company. We both had separate groups of friends, so we remained acquaintances until senior year. Certain friends of mine were not reliable or loyal, so during our senior year Amy included me with her friend’s activities and they all welcomed me with open arms.
I can remember visiting Amy’s home during college. Her Italian dad and I talked about making sauce and meatballs for the family on Sunday. We chatted about our love for food, cooking and eating. Her lovely mother had a gorgeous garden and a green thumb, just like my Grandma. I began to connect with them. Amy’s family was just like mine.
The funny part is Amy is not like me or her dad, as far as cooking is concerned. She would always proclaim, “I can not cook”. When shopping for food our senior year, I ran over to the meat case, pressed my nose to the glass and gawked at the “beautiful meat”. Amy covered her mouth in disdain, “That looks so nasty”. We laugh about it still to this day.
Now five years later, Amy and I have become best friends. Yes, we have other close friends, but to me, she is the best. She is kind, passionate, wise and supportive. Each morning on our way to work, (we are both teachers) we talk on the phone. Amy and I share our joys, worries and pray for one another.
Last summer, I visited Amy at her parent’s home. Her dad made this amazing cold tomato sauce and papardelle pasta dish. With each bite, I raved about the flavors. The raw garlic and basil were exquisite. Her mom made breaded eggplant rounds that night, which I now make every single time I buy eggplant. I think this why my friend’s parents like me coming over for dinner. I literally don’t stop talking about how amazing the food was. I WILL be making this recipe for the blog very soon.
Anyways, Amy and her family know I love food. So a few weeks ago she sends me a text about this amazing Italian Chocolate Cake with Red Wine that her mom made. See, Amy’s parents go to cooking classes once in a while.
“Dad wanted me to tell you that this recipe was from the Umbria region of Italy.”
“Send me the recipe,” I begged.
Moments later I received this darling picture of her mom holding the recipe. “That looks so easy!” I texted.
So my reader friends, are you ready to make this recipe with me? If you know me, I modify every recipe I come across. My first alteration involved the wine. I did not have red wine (vino rosso), so I used white wine (vino bianco). Drink…I mean, use what you want. Save some for cooking though, you lush.
2 cups good white wine
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon cinnamon or 3 cinnamon sticks
2-3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
4 red pears, firm and whole (any color works)
water, enough to cover the pears in a pot
2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 cups sugar (I used Truvia)
2 sticks butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups dry white wine (red works too)
confectioner’s sugar, for dusting
4 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon honey
Yields: 12-cup Bundt Pan or 3 Mini Cake Rounds
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Coat the inside of the pan with non-stick cooking spray
- In a bowl, whisk the dry Cake ingredients
- If using an electric mixer, turn it on medium speed.
- Slowly add the wet Cake ingredients one at a time (eggs, wine, butter, vanilla), while consistently mixing
- Mix until the batter is light and airy (see photo above)
- Transfer batter into prepared pan
- Bake for 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. Use toothpick to check | No wet batter on toothpick means it’s done
- Set aside to cool
Poach Pears while Cake bakes:
- Pour all Poached Pear spices and wine into a pot, place on stove top
- Turn on high heat
- Add the pears to the pot
- Fill pot with water, until just covering the pears
- Stir to loosen the honey
- Boil, then turn to medium low heat
- Cover pot and let simmer for 15-20 minutes, until pears are just soft
- Remove with slotted spoon and cut in half | Set aside
Prepare Ganache while Pears simmer:
- Put cream and honey in a small pot on the stove, stir
- Heat on medium heat until boiling
- Remove pot from stove and stir in chocolate chips until melted
- Set aside to cool, it will thicken
Serve the Torta al Vino Bianco with Chocolate Ganache and half a Poached Pear. Shower with Confectioner’s Sugar.
This is an easy dessert that looks fancy. The cake is delicate, the ganache is toothsome and the pear is rich with warm spices.