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Recipe: Piñon Nut and Chocolate Torte

The Pine Nut is a very sacred nut to the various tribes throughout the Southwest. It has been used as a food source for millennia. Piñons are harvested by hand in the Fall Season when the nuts are released from the pine cones and fall to the ground. Many times, whole families will go out together and harvest nuts. For this dessert, they are ground into a nut butter and mixed with chocolate to make a wonderful delectable dessert.


1 cup piñons (pine nuts)

2 tablespoons cornmeal

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate

6 egg yolks

3/4 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and 2 Tablespoons blue cornmeal, for decoration (optional)


Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, grind the piñons to a moist nut meal (about 2 minutes). Add the cornmeal and blend again for about 30 seconds, just long enough to combine. In a double boiler over medium-high heat, melt the butter and chocolate together, stirring occasionally so that they melt and blend together evenly. Add to the piñon mixture in the food processor and blend about 1 minute until smooth. Beat the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla together in a bowl, and add to the other ingredients in the food processor. Blend again until smooth.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and pat down with your fingers until evenly spread in the baking pan. This is a thick batter. Bake approximately 12 to 15 minutes, or until the cake is firm and springs back when the center is touched. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool before decorating. This is a dense torte; it resembles dense brownies.

When the torte has cooled, after 20 to 30 minutes, remove it from the pan. Be creative with the decorating process. You can do individual stencils on each slice or decorate the entire torte. To make the southwestern motif pictured, cut a stencil out of cardboard. First, dust the cake with confectioners' sugar using a medium-sized sieve, lightly tapping the sides and moving it in a circular motion around the surface of the torte. Then carefully hold the stencil as close to the torte's surface as possible, without touching it, and sprinkle the blue cornmeal through a sieve over the exposed areas. Carefully remove the stencil without disrupting the design.

For a finishing touch, place a few piñons at the corner of each stenciled triangle.

Serves six.

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