Complete Chocolate Lover’s Guide for the San Francisco Bay Area

Local Flavors cookbook

Seriously chocolate torte


Recipe time!

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Ingredients in the refrigerator, almonds, dates, and dried cranberries needed to be used. Deborah Madison’s Date, Dried Cherry, and Chocolate Nut Torte recipe was the nearly perfect fit.

What a great chocolate hit! And a great help to my little over-crowded refrigerator. I used Scharffen Berger 70% chocolate and since the goal was to use ingredients I had, I used slivers of almonds for the pecans, all Medjool dates instead of mixture, apple brandy and dried cranberries instead of the dried cherries… totally yummy. I’ve also made this with the proper ingredients as in D. Madison’s recipe. Her recipes never fail me!

Local Flavors cookbook
With her gracious permission, here is her recipe:

Date, Dried Cherry, and Chocolate Nut Torte recipe

by Deborah Madison, from “Local Flavors,” page 371.

1 9-inch Cake, serving 10 to 12

This cake keeps so well you can make it at least three days ahead of time. It’s made with dates from the desert, dried cherries, pecans or walnuts, and chocolate. Serve it plain or garnished with softly whipped cream, candied kumquats, and leaves from the kumquats or mint leaves. I like to use Deglet Noor and Black Sphinx dates, which retain their shape and color, along with a few Medjools which disappear into sweet, soft pockets.


1 cup Deglet Noor dates, pitted and snipped into 4 or 5 pieces each
1/2 cup Black Sphinx or Medjool dates
1 cup dried cherries
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup brandy
1 1/3 cups flour
1/4-cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutched process)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange or tangerine zest
6 ounces coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts


Butter and flour a 9-inch spring form pan.  Preheat the oven to 375˚F.

  1. Put the dates and cherries in a bowl with the baking soda. Pour over the boiling water and brandy and mix together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, and salt.
  2. Cream the butter with the sugar until light and smooth, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until well blended. Add the vanilla and orange zest.
  3. Add half the flour mixture, mix on low speed until combined, followed by the date mixture, including the liquid. When combined, add the remaining flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate and nuts.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center oven until the top is firm, slightly rounded and cracked, about 55 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack, then run a knife around the sides, loose the pan, and remove the side. When cool, transfer the torte to a cake plate.
  5. Serve with softly whipped cream flavored with brandy or orange liquor. Or, pipe rosettes of stiffer cream along the rim of the cake, and place sections of candied kumquats and leaves between them.
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Published February 17, 2010