Italian Walnut Torta – thanks to Camille Glenn

In 1982 a local chef and culinary writer, Camille Glenn, wrote a volume of exquisite desserts for the benefit of the Louisville Fund for the Arts Endowment.  Barry Bingham Sr., at that time the Chairman of the Board for the Courier-Journal and The Louisville Times Company wrote the Preface of the book.  His words  were to thank Camille for her ongoing efforts of writing a column for the paper, but more so to proclaim her as a local catalyst for teaching cooking, especially French cooking right here in Louisville. 

Thank you, Ms. Glenn for this wonderful book.  I was fortunate enough to find it at an estate sale and grabbed it up.  I met Camille Glenn several years ago at a Womens Chef’s event,  and was lucky enough to have her autograph my copy.  She was as charming as a southern woman should be, and incredibly gracious and patient as many around her fawned and gushed.  A few tables away sat Julia Childs, but that’s a story for another day.

Many of the recipes in this book I have made and each has been lovely.  Pears in Caramel Cream and the ever popular Cordon Bleu Chocolate Roll.  It strikes me as I write this that my favorite 3 recipes are gluten free!  Not sure what that means, exactly.  Today, I wanted to share the Italian Walnut Torta.

Last night in an Italian Seafood Class, this was dessert after a 7 course tapas meal containing gorgonzola cheese with honey and toasted walnuts, Mousse di Tonna, flatbread pizza, Shrimp Scampi, Salad, Swordfish braised in tomatoes and green olives over polenta, and this Torta for dessert.  With 6 people in the class and 5 bottles of wine to go around, I must admit that I tend to stop and wonder if it’s the food or the mood that evokes such strong emotion and zeal.

None the less, the Torta was remarkable, as it always is.  Incredibly light with no butter and really not much sugar.  The fact that it is flourless makes it satisfying, but not overfilling.  Great after two hours and six other courses.   

Camille Glenn's Italian Walnut Torta

Camille Glenn's Italian Walnut Torta

Camille Glenn’s Italian Walnut Torta

2 cups walnuts

5 eggs, separated

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Chop 1/2 cup of the walnuts coarsely in the food processor.  Set aside.  Grind the remaining walnuts until fine.  Beat the egg yolks in a mixer bowl until they are lightened up.  Add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is lighter in color and falls from the beaters in ribbons.  Gently fold in the walnuts.  Add the vanilla and mix in well.  

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold a stiff peak but are not dry or grainy.  Gently fold about 1/3 of the whites into the first mixture to lighten it.  Then fold the remaining egg whites in.  The volume of air incorporated into the eggs is the only leavener in this cake, so you want to be sure not to deflate the batter.

Butter an 8″ springform pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Spoon the batter in the pan and smooth the top.  Bake in the center of the preheated oven until the cake springs back, about 50-60 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes, then loosen the sides of the pan.  Cool completely and serve with Chocolate Ganache.


1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 Tbls unsalted butter

1 Tbls sugar

1/2 # chopped semi sweet chocolate (or 1 1/3 cups of chocolate chips)

Bring the cream, butter and sugar to a boil.  Turn off heat and add the chopped chocolate.  Shake the pan to submerge the chocolate and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes.  Gently stir with a whisk to smooth out the mixture.  Allow to cool to almost room temperature before pouring over the cake. 

Did I mention this recipe was easy?  EASY!



2 responses to “Italian Walnut Torta – thanks to Camille Glenn

  1. What beautiful site to see for my first blog this am!!I plan to make this right away it sounds so easy. Loved the story too!!

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