I am sharing one of my favorite traditional desserts from Italy, the Torta di Noci, a walnut cake from Calabria in southern Italy. This is an Italian dessert that has been around for generations, and I can’t resist it when it comes to making it at home. It’s got all of the ingredients everyone loves: chocolate, walnuts, eggs, and sugar. So, if you are looking for a perfectly moist cake for any occasion, this Italian Chocolate Walnut Cake (Torta di Noci) will be the answer. The recipe is easy to follow. It’s also pretty darn tasty, so your guests will enjoy it!
Italian Chocolate Cake
There is nothing quite like a sweet dessert, and this recipe does not disappoint. Roasting the walnuts first will bring out their flavor, but it’s not required to make the cake taste great! Next, mix all of your ingredients until they are well combined- try combining gently yet firmly, as that can be tricky sometimes. You’ll have a dry, crumbly, coarse meal batter on hand, which definitely doesn’t look anything close to cake…..until you fold whipped egg whites into it slowly without deflating them too much at once so your eggs won’t lose volume. That’s when the magic happens; the batter will be thick but spreadable. And at this stage, you are so close to an authentic Italian Chocolate Walnut Cake. You just need to bake!
Main Ingredients in the Torta di Noci
- Large Eggs at room temperature
- Sunflower Oil – You could also use Canola Oil if you don’t have Sunflower Oil
- Dark Chocolate – I used Valrhona Manjari 64% Chocolate – If you can’t find this, pick your favorite dark chocolate bar, or even go with dark chocolate chips. Remember, this is a chocolate cake, go with the best chocolate you can find.
- Instant Espresso Powder
- AP Flour – Remember to weigh your flour, I used King Arthur AP Flour. Too much flour will make your cake dry. If you still aren’t convinced about weighing your ingredients you can read a great article about how using a scale will change your life!.
- Baking Powder
- Walnuts – I toasted mine, but you don’t need to.
- Dark Chocolate Chips – I used Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips
How To Make An Authentic Italian Chocolate Walnut Cake
Chocolate cakes are one of my all-time favorites. This is a straightforward recipe that results in a delicious cake. One of the most important things in this cake making process is getting the texture of the nuts correct. Don’t let the nuts turn into a paste in the food processor.
You will combine the egg yolks and sugar and mix until they turn a pale yellow and slightly fluffy. Then add the sunflower oil, melted chocolate, and espresso powder. Stir to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder. Then add this dry mixture to the batter and mix at low speed to combine. Finally, add the walnuts and chocolate chips. You can see from above; the batter is looking a bit crumbly. That’s what you want.
In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Then slowly, bit by bit, add the egg whites to the batter. Don’t overmix. You don’t want to deflate the egg whites. The batter will now be thick but spreadable.
Transfer to pan and bake! Let cool, remove from pan, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and enjoy this walnut chocolate cake.
Pro Tips & FAQ
No, you don’t, but you get much more flavor by toasting them.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Sprinkle walnuts onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast until brown and fragrant, about 7-10 minutes, stirring once. Remove from oven when done.
Place your walnuts into a food processor and pulse until they reach the texture of sand. These go quickly in the food processor, so don’t walk away. You don’t want to end up with a walnut paste.
Yes, definitely! Again, keep an eye on it; you don’t want to end up with a walnut paste.
If you have a cake carrier, then go ahead and use that. Keep it covered in the airtight container. You can also use plastic wrap and cover the cake with that.
I’d use hazelnuts. In the US, that makes this a bit more expensive. But if you love hazelnuts, go ahead and switch.
Italian Chocolate Walnut Cake (Torta di Noci)
- 3 Large Room Temperature Eggs (Separate egg yolks from egg whites)
- ¾ cup Sugar (150 grams)
- ½ cup Sunflower Oil (100 grams)
- ⅔ cup Dark Chocolate Chopped and Melted (113 grams)
- 1 tsp Instant Espresso Powder (3 grams)
- ¾ cup All Purpose Flour (90 grams)
- ¼ tsp Salt (2 grams)
- 1 3/4 tsp Baking Powder (7 grams)
- ⅓ cup Dark Chocolate Chips (65 grams)
- 1 1/3 cup Toasted Walnuts – Ground (140 grams)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
- Chop your walnuts using a food processor until you have the texture of sand. You are looking for walnuts with a coarser look, not pasty. We are not looking for it to be as fine as almond flour. (See image in post)
- Over a bain marie or in the microwave with low heat, melt the 2/3 cup dark chocolate, and let cool until slightly warm to the touch.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Whip egg yolks and sugar with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer at high speed for a few minutes. The mixture should turn a paler yellow by then.
- Add the sunflower seed oil and the lukewarm melted dark chocolate as well as the espresso powder, mix again at medium speed for a few moments just until combined.
- Combine flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add the dry mix to the batter and whisk until a homogeneous mixture is obtained. Finally, add the ground walnuts and chocolate chips. (I saved a few of these chocolate chips to sprinkle on the top of the cake right before putting it in the oven.) The batter will look a bit dry and crumbly now. Don't worry. It’ll come together.
- In a cold bowl, whip the 3 egg whites until stiff peaks form, incorporate the whipped egg whites into the chocolate batter a little at a time with a rubber spatula and stir gently but determined. The mix will lighten up now. Make sure there are no clumps of batter sticking to the bottom of the bowl. Mix until the mixture is looking almost smooth. The batter will be thick, but spreadable.
- Transfer the mix to the prepared pan (if you saved some chocolate chips, sprinkle them on now) and bake for 22 – 30 minutes or until golden brown on top and a skewer inserted comes out clean. Start checking for doneness at 20 minutes with a wooden toothpick. Remember all ovens are different. It could take you a bit longer than 30 minutes.
- Let the cake cool for 30 minutes in the pan on a cooling rack. Remove from pan after 30 minutes.
- Serve dusted with confectioners' sugar.
More Desserts With Chocolate
- Raspberry Mouse Chocolate Cheesecake
- Gluten-free Chocolate Cake
- White Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cheesecake
- Best Homemade Brownies
- White Chocolate Raspberry Blondies
More Italian Desserts
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