This recipe has a lot of luggage. That’s an awful way to start a post about one of the world’s most delectable flourless chocolate tortes but I have to be honest, right?
The originator of the recipe is a little old Hungarian lady who fled over the mountains to escape the Nazis, ala the Sound of Music. She and her husband went on to live full lives in the US, where she continued to serve the heavy food of her homeland, including this wonderful cake, with a huge side of whipped cream. Apparently, a vegetable-free diet is brain food because her husband ultimately won a Nobel prize!
Later, I would bake this cake for an ex-boyfriend who said it was his absolute favorite. He always requested it for his birthday — for 10 long years. We broke up, but the cake endures.
I think I mentioned that I am lactose-free (not by choice, God knows. I can’t even do the milks of sheep or goats or any of their bi-products — the entire food group irks my system!) and lately I have been meeting more and more gluten-free people. One of them requested our very best flour-free dessert recipe and this is it. I make it without lactose too because I am an Earth Balance baker, 100%. If I were vegan and couldn’t eat eggs, I would just give up. Anyone who can bake well without eggs deserves an award. I have tried all of the substitutes they mention in vegan cookbooks because of a formerly vegan loved one (still loved, just no longer vegan!) but none of them can hold a candle to eggs.
Other things you should know about this torte — it’s sort of foolproof. It looks super fancy but it’s almost impossible to mess up. It’s very tolerant of your mistakes because pouring a melted chocolate glaze over anything covers all your sins. Any kind of ground nut can be used, not just the walnuts mentioned in the recipe. In the days of the chocoholic boyfriend, I would smash walnuts in a Ziplock bag with a hammer but a more elegant cook would have pulsed them in a Cuisinart (a device I have no love for, even if mandatory for latkes). When I made the torte pictured above, I actually bought almond flour, pre-ground, and I’m happy to report it imparted a lightness missing from the walnut version of the recipe without leaving any lingering marzipan-i-ness (not a word, but should be).
Another factor you can change are the preserves you use. The original recipe calls for seedless raspberry jam
but I like to use red currant jelly. I think you can use any fruit jam you like or omit the jam entirely.
Instead of the good, strong coffee called for both in the cake and the glaze, I substitute expensive instant espresso, with good results.
Choice of chocolate is a whole other topic. Scharffen Berger, while a big nuisance to break into chunks (we own TWO of those forks they sell specifically for breaking up their chocolate and can’t find either one!), is a good choice because of its intense, dark, berry-like flavor, but the cake pictured above was made with plain old semisweet Baker’s chocolate squares and was pleasantly light and non aggressive on the palette.
Hungarian Flourless Chocolate Torte
6 eggs (separated)
6 oz. sugar
6 oz. walnuts (ground relatively finely)
8 oz. semisweet chocolate (melted)
3 oz. Earth Balance
1 tablespoon strong black coffee (I use instant espresso)
1/2 jar raspberry or other jelly
Line a small spring form pan with parchment. Preheat the oven to 350.
Beat egg whites till they are medium dry. Slowly add sugar. Then by hand, blend in egg yolks, one at a time. Mix in ground walnuts.
Melt the chocolate with shortening and coffee and then add this to the mixture carefully. Blend completely till smooth.
Pour the mixture into the spring form pan and bake in the 350 oven for about 15 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 275 and let it bake about 30 minutes more until a toothpick comes out semi-dirty and the top is starting to crack. Because it’s part souffle, try to avoid opening the oven more than necessary.
Glaze ingredients :
4 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon shortening
A few tablespoons of coffee to dilute the glaze to thick pouring consistency
While the cake is still slightly warm, spread the fruit jam over the top and sides. Then pour the warm chocolate glaze over the whole thing. It will look gorgeous and shiny and stay that way!
The cake in the photo has also been drizzled with melted white chocolate with a toothpick dragged through it and topped with a cherry.