Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Orient Express Chocolate Torte

The Orient Express Chocolate Torte
Source: Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2006 ed.), pg. 37.

This is a small, dense, flourless cake (only 5 ingredients in the cake!) that is a bit unusual. The cake is very nutty as it is mostly composed of ground almonds. The chocolate buttercream icing is divine.

I had a few problems with this cake. I made the cake first and kept in the freezer over a week before I made the frosting and assembled it. The cake itself is very, very thin and quite fragile. At first I thought I had used too large of a pan but I went back and checked and my springform pan was 9 x 3 so it was correct. After the cake has baked, it is sliced into 2 pieces. It is best to freeze it first before cutting. Still, even after freezing, the cake was trying to come apart. The recipe says that the cake is fragile and she is not kidding!

I also had issues with the frosting. Maida says to beat the frosting quite a bit and then place it in the freezer or refrigerator to firm it up and then remove it and beat it again. I found that the icing was perfect after the first beating but putting it in the freezer for a few minutes really screwed up both the texture and the glossiness. If I make this again, I think I will skip the freezer part and the frosting will be just fine. I also found that there was not enough frosting to cover the entire cake and I ended up leaving the sides bare. 

So, be warmed, this is a somewhat challenging cake!

For the cake:

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
7 ½ oz. (1 ½ cups) unblanched almonds
5 eggs, separated
2 egg yolks
¾ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

Place the oven rack 1/3 of the way up from the bottom. Preheat the oven to 300. Butter a 9 x 3 inch springform pan or cake pan, line the bottom with buttered wax paper and dust with fine breadcrumbs.

Coarsely chop the chocolate and place it in a food processor or nut grinder. Add the almonds and pulse until they are finely ground. 
Pour the 7 egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugar and beat until yolks are lemon-colored but not thick.

Add the ground chocolate and almond mixture and mix. 

In a clean and dry mixer bowl, pour the 5 egg whites and the salt. Beat until they hold shape, but not until they are stiff or dry. Fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 - 65 minutes, or until the top just springs back when pressed with the fingers. Remove from the oven and run a sharp knife around the outer edge of the cake. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing it. Let the cake cool completely. It can be frozen for later assembly. 

Buttercream Frosting:

3 oz. (3/4 stick) sweet butter
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate

Cream the butter and vanilla in a small mixer bowl. Add the sugar and mix about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating on high for a few minutes after each one is added.

Place the chocolate in the top of a double broiler placed over low heat and slowly melt the chocolate.

Add the melted chocolate to the butter mixture, beating until well blended. Place the mixture in the freezer or refrigerator until it is quite firm. Remove the buttercream from the freezer or refrigerator and beat until it is soft, smooth, and spreadable. (**See my notes about this above)

Remove the cake from the freezer and slice it into two pieces. Spread 1/3 of the buttercream on top of the bottom layer of cake. Place the second layer of cake on top of this, cut side down. Spread the remaining buttercream over the cake top and sides.

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