Cook the Book: Tortino di Cioccolato

Cook the Book: Tortino di Cioccolato

"Who knew that a heel of stale bread, a few eggs, some butter, and a few ounces of chocolate could make for something so delicious?"

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

When you have a bakery, even one as popular as Jim Lahey's Sullivan Street Bakery, chances are you'll have a few loaves left at the end of the day. The same goes for baking bread at home—a stale end or a few slices that didn't get eaten before they dried out. Luckily My Bread includes an entire section of creative recipes using stale or leftover bread.

Some of the offerings are pretty standard old bread fare (bread pudding, gazpacho, and bruschetta) but I was intrigued by this recipe for Tortino di Cioccolato. The ingredients are similar to a flourless chocolate cake but there was something fascinating about including breadcrumbs.

Would they break down during the baking or keep their crunchiness? Do the finished tortinos have the same fermented quality as Lahey's signature no-knead bread?

Honestly, I couldn't get these little cakes in the oven fast enough. I was just dying to see how they'd turn out.

Once finished the tortinos looked very much like a molten chocolate cake, crisp on the top and sunken in the center. But when I took them out of the muffin pans I noticed they were quite light, weighing almost nothing. I cut into the first cake and it was crumbly and moist. While the breadcrumbs weren't visible they certainly made their presence known.

There was a great, almost potato-chip-like crunch to the cake, giving it a texture that was both exciting and really pleasing. The chocolate flavor was wonderful, dark and eggy, rich but not at all cloying or heavy.

This is a great way to use up leftover bread but also one of the most rewarding and easiest desserts I've tried in a while. Who knew that a heel of stale bread, a few eggs, some butter, and a few ounces of chocolate could make for something so delicious?

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Tortino di Cioccolato

- 12 individual tortes -

Adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey.


  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (202 grams) sugar
  • 4 large (about 240 grams) eggs, separated
  • ¼ cup (40 grams) fine dry homemade bread crumbs
  • A pinch (1 gram) table salt


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 400°F.

  2. 2.

    In a small saucepan over low heat (or in a bowl in the microwave), melt the butter. Combine the chocolate with 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a medium bowl, add the hot melted butter, and stir a few times. Let sit for 3 or 4 minutes to melt the chocolate, then stir until smooth.

  3. 3.

    Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined. Mix in the bread crumbs very thoroughly.

  4. 4.

    Put the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a medium bowl if you're using a hand mixer. Whip at medium speed until the whites are foamy, then reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar. Raise the speed to medium and continue whipping until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks (if they become dry or clumpy, they're overwhipped and will not give the torte the light, smooth texture it needs; dump them and start over with new egg whites). Use a rubber spatula or whisk to fold a large scoop of the meringue into the chocolate mixture until incorporated (this will lighten it), then gently fold in the remaining meringue.

  5. 5.

    Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners. Fill each cup approximately three-quarters full. Bake the tortini for about 10 minutes, until they are puffed up and just set in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack. The tortini will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.