Here’s a recipe for a popular dish from San Marino called “Torta Tre Monti” or “Cake of the Three Towers.” It’s a delicious layered cake made with chocolate, hazelnuts, and buttercream. It’s named after the three towers of San Marino, a small country surrounded by Italy.


For the Cake Layers:

  • 300g dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 200g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 200g finely ground hazelnuts
  • 50g all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Buttercream:

  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 250g powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons rum (optional)

For Assembly:

  • 100g finely ground hazelnuts (for coating)


  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease and line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a heatproof bowl, melt the dark chocolate over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the melted chocolate and vanilla extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  5. Gradually fold the ground hazelnuts and flour into the chocolate mixture. Then, gently fold in the beaten egg whites until the batter is well combined.
  6. Divide the batter equally among the prepared cake pans. Smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  7. Remove the cakes from the oven and let them cool in the pans for a few minutes. Then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. To prepare the buttercream, beat the softened butter in a mixing bowl until creamy. Gradually sift in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder, and continue beating until smooth and fluffy. Add the rum (if using) and mix until well incorporated.
  9. Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread a layer of buttercream on top. Place another cake layer on top and repeat the process until all layers are stacked with buttercream in between.
  10. Use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top of the cake. Press the finely ground hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake, creating a coating.
  11. Allow the cake to chill in the refrigerator for a few hours to set and enhance the flavors.
  12. Once chilled, slice and serve the Torta Tre Monti as a delightful dessert to enjoy!

Note: The Torta Tre Monti is best served at room temperature. Keep any leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container.



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