Sweet and salty, chocolate and walnut. Even just reading about this gluten-free cake probably makes many mouths water. But beware! If you're superstitious, the combination of salt and walnuts might bring you bad luck!
Salt, the divine substance
Salt was already known to the Romans as "white gold", which endowed those who possessed it with wealth and power. Homer called salt "the divine substance". The handling of salt has always – and even until today – been subject to strict rules: for example, salt should never be touched directly with the hands, so that even nowadays, many recipes speak of a "pinch of salt". And anyone who spills salt attracts bad luck. Unless you throw a pinch of salt over your shoulder right away. If, on the other hand, you are in need of some good luck, you simply mix salt and olive oil or water and salt and scatter it around the house, as is customary in Sicily, for example
The cursed walnut tree
The walnut tree is also associated with bad luck in Italy. This goes back more than 1,000 years to the legend of the cursed walnut tree of Benevento in Campania. The tree was so powerful that hundreds of witches, protected under its branches, held their rituals. Until a courageous priest named Barbato managed to cut down the tree. The church captured all the witches, and thus Benevento was freed from misfortune. The word nocino, which derives from noce (nut) and means "harmful", is said to have originated at that time. Likewise probably the superstition that sleeping under a walnut tree brings bad luck.
Salted chocolate cake
- 200 g ricotta
- 2 eggs, large
- 1 egg, medium-sized
- 75 g sugar
- 150 g dark chocolate, 70 % cocoa content
- 50 g walnuts
- 30 g corn starch, or rice starch
- coarse sea salt, fior di sale
- 1 tsp butter , for the baking dish
- 1 tsp cocoa powder, for the baking dish
- Pre-heat the oven to 180° C (upper and lower heat). Grease a baking dish (Ø approx. 20 cm) with butter and dust with cocoa. Melt the chocolate over a hot water bath. Drain the ricotta well in a sieve. Roast the walnuts in a pan without fat and chop coarsely.
- Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites with half of the sugar until stiff. Beat the egg yolks with the other half of the sugar until creamy. Now mix the cooled chocolate, ricotta, walnuts and starch into this mixture. If you like it salty, season here already with a pinch of salt. Finally, carefully fold the beaten egg whites into the mixture.
- Bake the cake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 minutes. Turn off the oven, open the door and leave the cake to cool down in the oven. Dust with cocoa and a little sea salt and serve.
I find that this wonderful chocolate cake with walnuts tastes best when I cut it into thin, or praline-sized pieces and when they are at fridge temperature. Salt stimulates the tongue's sugar sensors and makes sweet dishes taste more intense. Nevertheless, salt on sweet dishes is not everyone's cup of tea, so I always add it separately.