Vignola's Secret Chocolate Cake / Torta Barozzi


Mention torta Barozzi in the town of Vignola, just outside of Modena, known for its moretta cherries, and the residents there will enter into an argument as to the ingredients that go into this sinfully delicious chocolate cake named after native son Jacopo Barozzi, a famous Renaissance architect credited with designing the spiral staircase among other accomplishments. The recipe was invented by Eugenio Gollini in 1897 in his pasticerria still in operation in Vignola and its ingredients have been a well kept secret all these years. This much we do know; it is a dense, flourless chocolate cake with run, coffee, and almonds. Being curious, and after much research, here is my interpretation of this dark-as-midnight cake. Some important points before you begin: Use high quality semisweet chocolate; beat the sugar and egg yolks very well; do not overbeat the egg whites; and most importantly, do not overbake the cake. It should remain moist and a bet wet when a cake skewer is inserted into the center. This cake delivers every taste sensation of a moist, fudgy texture, punctuated with the crunchiness of the ground almonds and a meringue-like top.

Coat a 9 x 2-inch springform pan with butter, or cooking spray, dust with cocoa, tapping out the excess, and fit a sheet of parchment paper in the base of the pan. Butter the paper. Set the pan aside. Or line the pan with a sheet of dampened parchment paper, allowing the excess to overhang the sides.


  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted on a cookie sheet for 4 minutes in a 350 oven
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons rum or orange liquor, or Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale (not commercial balsamic vinegar used for salads, but the much more expensive, artisinal version.)
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar or almond flavored confectioners' sugar


  1. Grind the almonds to a powder in a food processor. Set aside.
  2. Reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
  3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set over hot water.
  4. Beat the yolks and sugar until lemon colored and very fluffy; stir in the almonds, chocolate mixture, rum and coffee. Set aside.
  5. Beat the whites in a separate bowl until soft peaks form. Fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center is slightly damp.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Cool completely. Carefully run a butter knife along the inside edges of the pan and release the spring. Remove the pan sides.
  7. Place the cake on a serving dish. Put the confectioners' sugar in a small sieve and dust the top of the cake.
  8. Cut into thin wedges to serve.

This recipe was featured on Season 17 - Episode 1704.

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Irena T

Thank you, Mary Ann,I love your cooking.t.

Bedelia von Paulhus

When you say l/4 cup of coffee, do you
mean ground coffee that use to make coffee or
1/4 cup of coffee that you have made. I want to
make this Barozzi as I saw the movie last night.

Mark Stevens

I have made this twice, using brewed coffee. I noticed that, while it raised fine in cooking, when cooled touching the top of the cake to check that it was completely cool the top collapsed. What am I doing wrong? I add confectioners sugar to the almonds to help me get almond powder.


She does not use the coffee, or the rum in the video.
This needs a correction.


She used the coffee in the egg mixture, but she also added a tablespoon of vanilla which is not mentioned in the receive.
Bedelia, she uses brewed coffee. I would use expresso, not American coffee.


I’m confused as to which chocolate to use
Semisweet or Bittersweet as both are mentioned ? Inthe preface and and in the ingredients.vthank you for sharing the recipe.


Theresa. I used bittersweet chocolate chips. Along with one cup of sugar the sweetness is just right.

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