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La Torta Amalfitana di Melanzane e Cioccolato

3 small or 2 medium globe-shaped eggplants, smooth, tight, and shiny-skinned
Coarse sea salt for the water
7 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt or Valrhona 70% cacao
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
A few grindings of pepper
1/3 cup good red wine
5 ounces shelled pistachios, lightly pan-roasted
5 ounces blanched almonds, lightly pan-roasted
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons sugar
Confectioners sugar


Slice the unpeeled eggplant very thin into slices not more than 1/8 inch in thickness and nearly transparent, piling them into a large bowl of cold, sea-salted water. Permit the eggplant slices to rest in their bath for 1 hour. In a small, heavy saucepan over a low flame, stir the chocolate with the cocoa, the cloves, the pepper, and the wine, only until the chocolate has softened and warmed. Continue to stir off the flame until the mixture is smooth. Cover the pan and set it aside. Hand-chop or pulse the pan-roasted pistachios and almonds in a food processor to a fairly small mince. Set the nuts aside. Drain the eggplant, squeezing the slices a few at a time. Shake the squeezed, now wrinkled-beyond-repair, slices in a paper bag with a bit of flour, coating them lightly. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large saute pan over a lively flame, warm the olive oil and begin quickly sauteing the eggplant, crisping it a bit, then removing it to rest on absorbent paper towels. Repeat the process until all the eggplant slices are golden and crisped. Very lightly oil a 10-inch springform pan and place a generous layer of the eggplant on its base. Drizzle the eggplant with a bit of the slightly rewarmed chocolate, sprinkle over some of the pistachio/almond mixture, and repeat the process until all the components are in place, ending with a thin layer of eggplant. Beat the egg, the egg white, and the sugar together to a froth in a pitcher or a measuring cup with a spout, drizzling it carefully over and down into the cracks and crevices between the layers of the eggplant. Bake the torta for 18 minutes, removing it from the oven to cool for 1/2 hour before unmolding. Just before presentation, dust the torta with confectioners sugar. It is lovely to eat at room temperature, even better thoroughly cooled. Do not, however, refrigerate it. Obviously, one would wish to keep the tortas principal component a secret, waiting to see who among them will recognize it in its sweet masquerade.

Source: www.epicurious.com