Ferrara’s Special Chocolate Cake 

(“TortaTenerina- La Tacolenta”) 

The recipe for this sinful cake is presented by Ms. Elena Bertelli,my wife's cousin, who lives in Ferrara

The Torta Tenerina or Tacolenta is a special cake made in Ferrara. As the name suggests Tenerina means “delicately soft” and in fact this chocolate cake has a very thin and crispy crust and a soft and moist chocolate inside. 


In the United States during the 1893 Chicago World Fair, in the bake shop of the Palmer House Hotel, a brown, chewy, thick, chocolate cake was prepared in large pans; it was about one and half inchs tall and sliced into two to three inch squares so it would be more convenient to serve, less messy to eat than a pie or a layer cake, and it was so delicious that it became an instant success. 

At the same time on the other side of the Atlantic, similar cakes were produced:  

in France “les brownies” are chocolate cakes combined with the flavorful raspberry, in Spain beside chocolate, dry fruits and nuts are mixed into the “pastelito de chocolate y nueces”, in Germany the chocolate brownies are topped with the ‘köstlich’, a rich syrup enriched with chopped up nuts, in the U.K. coffee granules, vanilla and nuts are added to the recipe for extra enjoyment.


At the beginning of the 20th Century, on the occasion of the visit of Vittorio Emanuele III King of Italy, and his wife Elena Petrovich of Montenegro, the people of Ferrara dedicated to them this cake made mostly with Theobroma cacao, which means "food of the gods" and christened it Torta Tenerina.  

La Torta Tenerina is a great pleasing dessert: any chocolate lover will be more than thrilled and delighted with, when sampling this luxurious and decadent cake.

It is also called Torta Tacolenta, to articulate the intense and moist chocolate taste that lingers in the mouth when enjoying each morsel of this mouth-watering and sumptuous tasting treat.

Elena wrote that this torta is normally sprinkled with confectionary sugar however at times it is served with custard cream making this cake “una vera bomba calorica”, literally translated, “ a true caloric bomb”.


Serves 8 



  • ½ lb.    Bitter–sweet chocolate, chopped into uniform pieces  
  • ¼ lb.    Unsalted butter at room temperature  
  • ¼ lb.   Sugar (4 tablespoons)  
  • 3 Tablespoons of flour  
  • 3 Large eggs  
  • Pinch of salt  






Preheat oven at 400 degrees.

Butter a 10” round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper; butter paper and lightly dust with flour. Use a springform pan if it is available. 

Over low heat or in a double boiler, gently melt togheter the chocolate. Stir it occasionally with a wood or rubber spatula.

Separate the eggs, place the whites in a bowl ready to be beaten, and  the yolks in a small container.

Combine the sugar, and the butter in a bowl, whisk until they are well mixed. 

Add the yolks one at a time and stir constantly, after that stir in the flour, pour in the melted chocolate, mix continuously until this cream is smooth and blended. 


In a large glass or metal bowl, beat egg whites and salt until mixture is foamy and stiff. Gradually pour in the chocolate cream, turning gently in a circular motion, from top to bottom.


Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. 

The Tenerina is ready when a light crispy brown crust forms on the top, so that the inside is soft and moist.


Cool in the cake pan for 15 minutes, invert onto a serving plate, remove parchment paper, and when ready to serve sprinkle with confectionary sugar.