This beautiful chilled torte is a sort of gourmet version of those icebox cakes from a couple of decades ago made with chocolate and whipped cream.
Decadently rich and sinfully delicious, this would make a gorgeous birthday, graduation, or Father’s Day treat. Hang on to this recipe: It’s a real keeper!
2/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cups sugar (use pure organic sugar, if possible)
2/3 cup ground walnuts
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
7 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups flour
3 to 6 tablespoons brandy
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup confectioner’s sugar or less, according to taste
Chocolate curls or shaved bittersweet chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Cream the butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar, then beat in the ground walnuts, melted chocolate, almond extract, and egg yolks. Beat the egg whites separately until they hold soft peaks, and fold them into the chocolate mixture. Finally, sift in the flour and mix it gently until completely incorporated.
3. Pour the batter into a buttered 8- or 9-inch spring form cake pan and bake it in preheated oven for about 1 1/4 hours (or maybe a little longer), or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and dry.
4. Allow cake to cool slightly in its pan, then remove it and let it finish cooling on a rack.
5. Cut the cake into 3 thin, even layers and drizzle 1 or 2 tablespoons of brandy over each layer.
6. Whip the cream with the confectioner’s sugar until it is stiff. Spread 1/3 of the whipped cream on top of the first layer and place the second layer carefully over it. Spread another 1/3 of the cream on the second layer, put on the top layer, and spread it as beautifully as you can with the remaining cream, bringing it out just to the edge but not letting any get on the sides of the cake. (You want the three dark layers and cream filling to make a dramatic striped effect around the sides.)
7. Arrange chocolate curls (or sprinkle bits of shaved chocolate) on top of the whipped cream (you can do this in a 1-inch-wide ring around the edge, if you like). Chill the cake.
Serves 8 to 10.
Inspired by The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two, by Anna Thomas (Alfred A. Knopf, 1978).