Layers of chocolate Bavarian-coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache alternate between thin layers of rum-soaked almond sponge cake. This nine-layer cake is a masterpiece. You will need the precision of a kitchen scale in measuring the ingredients.
- Almond Sponge Cake
- Egg Whites - 5
- Granulated Sugar - 4 ounces
- Almond Meal - 2 ounces
- Baking Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Cake flour - 2-1/2 ounces
- Whole Eggs - 2
- Coffee Buttercream
- Sugar - 10 ounces
- Water - 1-1/2 ounces
- Strong black coffee or espresso - 1 tablespoon
- Unsalted Butter - 1 pound
- Egg Yolks - 6
- Chocolate Bavarian
- Unflavored gelatin - 1 packet
- Cold Water - 1/4 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 3/4 quart
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 12 ounces, chopped
- Crème Anglaise (see Basics) - 8 ounces
- Chocolate Ganache
- Semi-sweet chocolate - 12 ounces, chopped
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 cup
- Rum Syrup
- Water - 2 cups
- Sugar - 2/3 cup
- Rum - 1 tablespoon
- Crème Anglaise
- Milk - 2 cups
- Sugar - 2/3 cup
- Egg Yolks - 6
- Vanilla Extract - 1 teaspoon
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 4 ounces, chopped
- Fresh raspberries - for garnish
To make the almond sponge: Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line two sheet cake pans with parchment paper. In the deep bowl of a mixer fitted with a balloon whip, beat the egg whites until foamy. Continue beating, adding 2 ounces of the sugar gradually, until stiff, glossy peaks form. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Combine the almond meal, baking powder, and cake flour, and sift together onto parchment or waxed paper. In another bowl, whip the whole eggs with the remaining 2 ounces of sugar until they are thick and pale yellow. Fold one half of the whipped whites into the beaten whole eggs. Gently fold in the dry ingredients, then fold in the remaining whipped egg whites. Spread onto the prepared sheet pans and bake 7 to 10 minutes, until the centers spring back when touched. Remove from oven and let cool.
To make the coffee buttercream: In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook without stirring to the soft ball stage, 242 F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. In the deep bowl of a mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, whip the egg yolks until foamy and pale. Slowly add the sugar, pouring in a small stream, as you continue to beat the egg yolks. When the sugar has been incorporated and the mixture has cooled slightly from the beating, Stir in the coffee. Slowly beat in the butter, a little at a time.
To make the chocolate Bavarian: Dissolve the gelatin in the water. Beat the cream until it stands in firm peaks. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. Warm the crème anglaise until it flows freely and stir in the gelatin. With a whisk stir the crème anglaise mixture into the chocolate. Fold in the whipped cream. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
To make the ganache: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water. In another saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, gently combine the chocolate and cream; do not beat air into the mixture.
To make the rum syrup: Combine the water and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in the rum.
To make the crème anglaise: Combine the milk and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Put the egg yolks in a small bowl and stir in a large spoonful of the hot milk mixture. Slowly pour the eggs into the milk mixture in the pan, stirring gently. Cook until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
To assemble: Cut the sponge cakes into thirds lengthwise, making six long strips. Place a piece of parchment on a large piece of heavy cardboard or a platter and put one strip of cake on the parchment. Brush it with rum syrup and spread a thin layer of buttercream. Top with a second strip of cake and brush the cake with rum syrup. Spread chocolate bavarian on this layer; the chef suggests putting the bavarian in a pastry bag fitted with a large flat tip to make this step easy. Top with a third strip of cake and brush the cake with rum syrup. Spread ganache over this layer, being careful not to let it run down the sides. Top with a fourth strip of cake and brush the cake with rum syrup. Spread buttercream on this layer. Top with a final strip of cake and brush with rum syrup. Spread buttercream on this layer, and smooth the top. Spread ganache over the top in a smooth layer and let set.
To serve: Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water or in a microwave and place in a pastry bag fitted with a very small plain round tip. Cut the torte into individual serving pieces. Place a piece on each serving dish and pool crème anglaise next to the slices. Decorate the tops of the torte pieces and the sauce with piped chocolate. Garnish with a raspberry.
Note: You will have 1 strip of cake left over. It may be frozen or used immediately for other use.