Chocolate cake, more so than perhaps any other dessert, can be a bit of a double-edged sword for a dessert menu. On one hand, you've got the irresistible nostalgia factor tugging your heart strings towards it, enrobing your soul in comfort and frosting. But on the other hand, such an iconic and timeless classic inevitably sets a very high bar in terms of emotional expectations. Like chocolate chip cookies and banana splits, chocolate cake is a dessert tradition we're all familiar with, and it's something we all have expectations for. It may seem simple, but a good chocolate cake can be mighty hard to pull off. This is why Formento's deserves major kudos for not only pulling off a successful chocolate cake, but for serving what very well may be the single best chocolate cake in Chicago.
It sounds humble enough, but the chocolate cake at Formento's goes miles beyond the chocolate norm. It succeeds in every way, on every level, and in each of its 10 layers. Yes, this thing is a beast, and it's a fitting finale for a meal chock full of saucy Italian fare. This thing is chocolate to the nth degree; a study in how best to showcase chocolate without going too overboard. In spit of the many layers, the pastry team manages to keep this thing relatively subdued, an impressive feat for a dessert that teeters as tall as a Jenga tower. Tender layers of chocolate cake are soft enough to keep you coming back for more, without overwhelming your palate with cement-thick fudge. Interspersed with chocolate pudding, the whole thing takes on a delicate touch, finished with a lustrous chocolate glaze oozing over the top and onto the plate. What really makes this cake sing, though, is the slivers of hazelnut praline woven throughout the dessert. With a subtle, thin crackle akin o feuilletine, the buttery crunch of the nuts is a nice reprieve from the chocolate-on-chocolate onslaught.
This is chocolate cake that can raise the bar on confectionary expectations.