The Unforgettable Torte
This beautiful torte of chocolate cake, hazelnut meringue, and flavored fillings is unforgettable, both for its taste and its presentation. You also won’t quickly forget just how complex and difficult it is to make! The torte could be served by itself, of course. But try the adventure of creating the dramatic chocolate petals and wings; the reward is a piece of art. Access the chocolate instructions in the “Basics” portion of the Great Chefs website for help with these incredible edibles. Do your chocolate work in a cool room — with cool hands.
- Chocolate Garnishes
- Bittersweet Chocolate - 4 OZ
- Striped Chocolate Wings - 8
- Dark Chocolate Wings - 4
- 4-1/2-inch Dark Chocolate Discs - 8
- Striped Chocolate Tulip Petals - 24
- Hazelnut Meringues
- Egg Whites - 6
- Cream of Tartar - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Confectioner’s Sugar, Sifted - 1 - 1/2 Cups
- Hazelnuts, Finely Ground - 1 Cup
- Chocolate Cake
- Eggs - 4
- Sugar - 2/3 Cup
- Unsweetened Cocoa Powder - 1/4 Cup
- Salt - 1 Pinch
- Sifted Cake Flour - 3/4 Cup
- Unsalted Butter, Melted - 3 Tablespoons
To assemble the chocolate garnishes:
1. To assemble the chocolate wings: Line a sheet pan with waxed paper. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt 4 ounces of dark chocolate. Lay four striped chocolate wings, stripe-side up, on the waxed paper. Place the melted chocolate in a pastry bag or paper cone with a fine tip and pipe a quarter-sized dot of hot chocolate on the lower fourth of each wing. Press a plain chocolate wing onto each dot and hold if necessary until the chocolate sets enough to hold the wings. Pipe another quarter-sized dot of hot chocolate onto the lower fourth of the plain wings and press another striped wing onto each. Place in the refrigerator to set, 5 to 7 minutes.
Line another sheet pan with waxed paper. Place four chocolate discs on the waxed paper. Pipe a 2-inch dot of hot chocolate on a disc, mounding the dot. Place an assembled wing upright on the dot of chocolate and hold until it sets. Pipe additional hot chocolate at the base of the wing to secure it firmly. Place in the freezer. Repeat with the other wings. The wings can remain in the freezer up to 2 days.
2. To assemble the tulip cups: Line a sheet pan with waxed paper. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt 4 ounces of dark chocolate. Place four chocolate discs on the waxed paper. Place the melted chocolate in a pastry bag or paper cone with a fine tip and pipe a 1-inch strip of chocolate on the rim of the disc. With the tips of your fingers lift a striped tulip petal and place it, striped-side in and point-side up, into the chocolate. Adjust with a slight outward lean and hold gently until it sets firmly enough to stay. Repeat with five more tulip petals. Place in the freezer. Repeat with the remaining three discs. The cups can remain in the freezer for up to 2 days.
To make the meringues: Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper or heavy brown paper. Trace around a 4-inch ring mold to draw 4 circles on the paper. In a large bowl, bet the egg whites and cream of tartar together until foamy. Gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar until the meringue forms stiff peaks. Fold in the ground hazelnuts. Place the meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip and pipe a tight solid spiral on a circle drawn on the prepared baking sheet. Fill in the circle completely. Repeat with the remaining circles and smooth the tops slightly with a spatula or table knife. Bake for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until crisp but not browned. Remove the paper with the meringues and place on a wire rack to cool on the paper.
When cool, lift the meringues from the paper. With a sharp knife, trim the edges of each meringue circle to fit inside a 4-inch ring mold. Set aside in a dry place at room temperature until ready to use.
To make the chocolate cake: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Warm a deep bowl: fill the bowl with warm water, empty it, and dry thoroughly. In the warmed bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture thickens and a ribbon forms when a spoonful is drizzled on the surface. Fold the cocoa into the egg mixture. Gradually fold the salt and two thirds of the flour into the egg mixture. Blend a large spoonful of the mixture into the butter, then gently fold the butter and the remaining one third of the flour into the mixture. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the pan cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. You will have two 1/2-inch-thick cakes.
To make the white cake: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Warm a deep bowl: fill the bowl with warm water, empty it, and dry thoroughly. In the warmed bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together until the mixture thickens and a ribbon forms when a spoonful is drizzled on the surface. Stir the vanilla into the egg mixture. Gradually fold two thirds of the flour into the egg mixture. Blend a large spoonful of the mixture into the butter, then gently fold the butter and the remaining one third of the flour into the mixture. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 10 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the pan cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. You will have two 1/2-inch-thick cakes.
To make the buttercream: In a double boiler over barely simmering water, melt the chocolate. Strain the chocolate through a fine-meshed sieve into a small bowl and set aside to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy. In a heavy, medium saucepan, stir the sugar and water together. Bring to a boil over medium heat, using a damp pastry brush to brush down any crystals that form on the sides of the pan. Do not stir the mixture while it is heating. Boil to 240 F on a candy thermometer, or until a small amount dropped into a glass of cold water forms a soft, pliable ball (soft-ball stage). Remove from heat. While beating the egg yolks on medium speed, gradually pour a thin stream of the sugar mixture into the yolks. Increase the speed to high and continue pouring until all the sugar has been absorbed and the mixture has cooled. It will be light and fluffy.
In a small deep bowl, cream the butter. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, to the mixture, beating constantly, until the butter is incorporated. While beating, gradually pour the chocolate into the buttercream until completely blended and smooth. The buttercream will keep up to 2 months in the freezer.
To assemble: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place four 4-inch ring molds on the sheet. Cut 4 strips of heavy flexible plastic 4 inches wide and 12-3/4 inches long to fit inside of the ring molds. Place a plastic strip around the inside of each mold, letting it extend above the top.
Cut four 4-inch circles from the chocolate sponge. Trim each sponge circle to 1/2-inch thick. Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam on each sponge circle and place one in each prepared mold, jam-side up. Put the buttercream into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe a layer over each sponge. Press 6 of the raspberries into the buttercream of each torte. Put the ganache in a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip and pipe a layer of ganache over the raspberries. Reserve the remaining ganache for the final assembly.
Place a meringue disc over the layer of ganache, pressing it down slightly. Sprinkle the meringue with Chambord. Press the juice from the remaining raspberries, strain through a fine-meshed sieve, and gently fold the raspberry juice into the whipped cream. Spoon 2 or 3 tablespoons of the raspberry cream over each meringue.
Cut the white sponge into four 4-inch circles. Trim the sponge circles to 1/2-inch thick and press one on top of the whipped cream in each mold. Fold the cocoa powder into the raspberry cream and spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons over each cake. Smooth the tops with the back of a kitchen knife and place the molds in the freezer until firm, 2 to 3 hours.
Line a baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil. Place a wire rack on the baking sheet. Roll the marzipan into a 1/8-inch-thick sheet and cut four 4-inch circles. In a double boiler over barely simmering water, warm the ganache to pouring consistency. Remove the molds from the freezer and gently warm the outsides of the molds with warm towels. Run the tip of a thin sharp knife around the inside of each mold to loosen the rings. Unmold the tortes onto the wire rack. Strip off the plastic. Press a skewer or fork into each torte and dip completely into the ganache, then place on the rack to drip. Press a marzipan disc onto the top of each torte while the ganache is still soft.
To serve: Place a petal cup slightly off center on a dessert plate and carefully center a torte in the cup. Place the melted chocolate in a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe a small pool of melted chocolate on the plate and place a wing garnish in the melted chocolate, holding it in place until the chocolate cools and firms. Dust the top of the marzipan disc with cocoa powder. Pipe a 1/2-inch mound of ganache in the center of the marzipan. Dust the chocolate lattice leaves with cocoa powder and lean a leaf against the ganache. Repeat with the remaining tortes.