Torta AL Cioccolato or Torta DI Cioccolato? Recipe and Explanation Prepositions!

In this lesson I’m going to teach you how to make a super quick cake! With only 10/15 minutes of preparation time (and 20/25 minutes of cooking time), you will have a light, delicious and…quite healthy cake everyone will love: La Torta al Cioccolato con Pere! At the end we are also going to clarify a delicate matter regarding the prepositions used when talking about food!

How to make a Chocolate Pear Cake 


– 200 g flour
– 50 g unsweetened cocoa powder
– 200 g brown sugar
– 200 ml milk
– 2 eggs
– 100 ml vegetable oil
– 1 sachet of baking powder
– 1 pear


1) Get a bowl and a wooden spoon.

2) Break the eggs into the bowl and beat them with the spoon until smooth.

3) Add the sugar and keep mixing until it’s completely melted. This step will probably require a few minutes. Of course, you can also use white sugar, instead of the brown one, if you want.

4) When the mixture is smooth and well combined, add the milk. I used a plant-based one to make it lighter (coconut milk in this case, but also almond and hazelnut milk are good options! If, instead, you prefer dairy milk, feel free to use that!).

5) Mix and slowly add the flour and the cocoa powder while stirring. If you have a sieve and a little more  time, you can sift the flour, but don’t worry, the result is flawless anyway!

6) When the flour is almost all incorporated, add the oil and keep stirring. The more you stir (and the more strenght you use), the better the result!

7) In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

8) Peel the pear, cut it into cubes and pour them into the batter. If you want, set aside some thin slices.

9)Add the last ingredient to the batter: the baking powder. After adding it, keep mixing but not too hard this time, because baking powder needs gentleness.

10) Grease and flour the bottom of the baking pan you are going to use for your cake.

11) Pour the batter into the pan and if you had previously set aside some pear slices, you can put them on top of the cake.

12) Bake the cake for  20-25 minutes and when it looks cooked, try the toothpick test: insert a toothpick and if it comes out clean, you can turn off the oven and take the cake out of it.

And now enjoy it!

Prepositions DI or A?

Now I’m going to clarify a really delicate matter: at the beginning I said we were going to make la torta al cioccolato con pere. But why al cioccolato instead of di cioccolato?

Which one is correct? Torta al cioccolato or torta di cioccolato? Gelato al pistacchio o gelato di pistacchio? Let’s make this clear!

In Italian, nowadays, with most recipes we use the preposition DI to indicate the main ingredient used, the one present in greater quantity (for example: tortino di verdure  because it is mainly made with vegetables, frittata di pasta because it is mostly made with pasta, sformato di zucchine, minestra di spinaci, etc.). Originally, this rule was widespread and also applied to ice cream and cakes (in fact, in recipe books of the 19th century we can find gelato di tutti frutti” or “gelato di pistacchi”).

The preposition A was only used to express:

– the geographical origin of a dish (risotto alla milanese, ragù alla bolognese…)
the special feature of a dish (pizza alla marinara, pollo alla cacciatora…)
the cooking appliance or the cooking method used  (pollo al forno, triglie al cartoccio)

However, towards the middle of the 20th century, the preposition A started to indicate also:

the seasoning, the aroma characterizing a dish (anatra all’arancia, risotto allo spumante)

In summary: DI was used when talking about the ingredient present in greater quantity while A was used to indicate the flavor and the particular aroma of a dish.
So, for example, they used to say “gelato di crema alla vaniglia”, because cream was the main ingredient of the ice cream, while vanilla was the aroma, the characterizing flavor.

Later, with time, it became just gelato alla vaniglia”,  highlighting in this way only the main flavor instead of the main ingredient of the recipe.

Therefore, even in our case, we use torta al cioccolatobecause chocolate is the main flavor, but it is not the main ingredient, as you may have seen in the recipe.

That’s all! And if you want to make a bundt cake, make sure to check out the video where I make a delicious one with my friend Angela! Furthermore, you will have the chance to revise the imperative in Italian, which never hurts!

Let’s see if you’ve mastered the contents of this class. Have a go at completing the exercises!

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