Chef Max Santiago

Chef Max Santiago (Food Network Courtesy / December 11, 2012)

The restaurant: Valentino, 1145 S. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-523-5767,

Holiday memory: "My mother is from Bogota, Colombia and my father is Cuban. My mother and grandmother did all the cooking. I never went into the kitchen as a kid. Our meals were traditional Cuban food, whole roast pork cooked in a box — La Caja China with rice and beans. The celebration was always big, with lots of kids running around."

Flourless chocolate silk torte with candied kumquats and eggnog crème fraîche

To serve this dense cake, make a clean cut by placing a large chef's knife in hot water. After each slice, wipe knife clean and re-warm as needed.

7 ounces (54 percent) semisweet chocolate

9 ounces (64 percent) bittersweet chocolate

3/4 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cup sugar, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes

7 large eggs

Candied kumquats (see recipe)

Eggnog crème fraîche (see recipe)

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a 10-inch-round by 2-inch-deep cake pan by spraying the edges and bottom lightly with nonstick spray. Cut a circle out of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan; set aside.


Place chocolates in a large bowl. Using a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring water, salt and 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar to a near boil. Pour over chocolate, add vanilla and allow to sit for 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate is melted.