Sunday, May 16, 2010

Brunetti's Cookbook: Chocolate Cake, Torta de cioccolato

I first posted this review and recipe on, and this morning I received an e-postcard from Carlo Vennarucci host at asking if I had seen the cookbook. I quickly realized that not everyone who reads Mystery Fanfare also reads my chocolate blog: So here's the review with recipe for Chocolate Cake aka Torta de cioccolato.

Brunetti's Cookbook: Chocolate Cake-Torta di cioccolato

Who wouldn't want to have a meal in Commissario Guido Brunetti's Venice? Venice is one of those magical cities where East meets West, where every restaurant has its specialities--a wonderful place for foodies, bakers and chefs, and multi-course Brunetti lunches.

I'm a big fan of Donna Leon's  Commissario Brunetti mystery series. Each novel is filled with the color, the smells, the landscape, the crime and corruption, the families and, of course, the foods of Venice. Now, we have Brunetti's Cookbook: Recipes by Roberta Pianaro with Culinary Stories by Donna Leon (Atlantic Monthly Press) with anecdotes, recipes and beautifully drawn illustrations! There are also excerpts from the novels and original essays by Donna Leon on food and life in Venice, the perfect addition to this wonderful cookbook.

Since I collect mystery, literary, and other tie-in cookbooks, I am thrilled to add Brunetti's Cookbook to the shelf, and I think you will be, too.

Brunetti's Cookbook brings to life fabulous Venetian meals. Roberta (Biba) Pianaro, who has always lived in Venice,  a talented cook, and best friend of Donna Leon, presents over 90 mouth-watering recipes. Donna Leon has lived in Venice for over 25 years and has feasted at Pianaro's table many times over the years. This fabulous cookbook is illustrated by Tatjana Hauptmann. Just so you know,  this cookbook was vetted by both Pianaro and Leon. Leon is quoted on the Italian-Mysteries site as saying, "We ate our way through these recipes last year--believe they are legit.."

Interesting that the UK Edition is called A Taste of Venice: At Table with Brunetti, Culinary Stories by Donna Leon, Recipes by Roberta Pianaro.

Since this is a Chocolate Blog, I immediately checked the index for chocolate recipes. Didn't really expect to find one among the mouth-watering recipes for antipasti, primi piatti, verdure, pesci e frutti de mare and carne, but under the dolci section, is a recipe for Chocolate Cake or Torta di cioccolato.

Chocolate Cake: Torta di cioccolato

7 oz. unsweetened dark chocolate
1/2 stick butter
1/3 cup and 1 tbsp sugar
4 medium eggs, separated
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
buter and flour for the baking tin

In a small non-stick pan melt the chocolate with the butter and 4 tbsp of water over low heat, stirring occasionally, making sure the chocolate doesn't burn. Pour the chocolate into a bowl and mix thoroughly with the sugar and egg yolks. Blend in the flour, cornstarch and baking powder. Pour into a springform cake tin measuring 10 inches in diameter and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes.
This is a cake that can be filled with cream or jam!

"Mangia, mangia, ti fa bene."

Thanks to Elizabeth Foxwell, here's a link to a BBC radio interview with Donna Leon about this cookbook!

The lovely photo of Donna and Biba was taken by Carlo Vennarucci when he and his wife Lyn had morning coffee with them this past week.


Deeba PAB said...

What an amazing cookbook, and gorgeous recipe. Lovely addition to your bookshelf Janet. A wonderful post!

Janet Rudolph said...

thanks, Deeba, and the Cookbook is really beautifully done. The non-chocolate recipes are fabulous and fairly easy. I've tried my hand at several. The Chocolate Cake is scrumptious, and I've made it a few times now.

Priscilla said...

Wicked. Wicked. Now I'm seeing this vision: a chocolate cake in my future... Thank you for posting, Janet. I am giving it to a friend who bakes and loves Donna Leon's books as well.

Janet Rudolph said...

It's a beautiful cookbook with great recipes. Every cook or fan of Donna Leon will be happy to have it on their shelf!

Unknown said...

Just discovered Donna Leon's fabulous Brunetti books and am totally enamored of the Commissario. Being a foodie as well, when I stumbled upon the cookbook last nite in B&N I was completely delighted. Cannot wait to start cooking....Thank you Donna Leon and Roberto Pianaro!!!