Chocolate-almond Sponge Torte

<strong>Prep:</strong> 1 hour<br>
<br>
<strong>Cook:</strong> 28 minutes<br>
<br>
<strong>Chill:</strong> 2 hours<br>
<br>
<strong>Makes:</strong> 6 servings<br>
<br>
This torte, adapted from &quot;Maida Heatter's  Book of Great Chocolate Desserts,&quot; has a simple elegance. She uses a  buttercream frosting, but for a non-dairy meal, you could fill and top  the cake with melted apricot preserves or another fruit jam.<br>
<br>
1 cup whole almonds, blanched, see note<br>
<br>
4 eggs, separated<br>
<br>
1/2 cup sugar<br>
<br>
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder<br>
<br>
1 tablespoon rum or Cognac, optional<br>
<br>
1/2 teaspoon vanilla<br>
<br>
1/4 teaspoon almond extract<br>
<br>
1/8 teaspoon salt<br>
<br>
Buttercream:<br>
<br>
1 ounce each: unsweetened chocolate, semisweet chocolate<br>
<br>
1 pasteurized egg<br>
<br>
1/3 cup superfine sugar<br>
<br>
1 teaspoon powdered instant coffee or espresso<br>
<br>
3 ounces unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature, cut in 8 pieces<br>
<br>
1/2 teaspoon vanilla<br>
<br>
Chocolate shavings, almonds, if desired<br>
<br>
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch round  cake pans; line bottoms with wax paper. Grease the paper; dust insides  lightly with cocoa powder. Invert pans and tap to remove excess. Place  almonds in a food processor; pulse to grind to a fine powder.<br>
<br>
2. Beat egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl with  electric mixer at high speed until light and pale, 5 minutes. Add  cocoa, rum, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat at low speed just until  mixed; set aside. Clean beaters. Place egg whites and salt in a clean  bowl; beat with electric mixer on high speed until they hold stiff  peaks but are not dry. Fold a large spoonful of the beaten egg whites  into yolk mixture. Lightly fold remaining whites in three additions  into yolk mixture. Pour batter into the cake pans; smooth surfaces.<br>
<br>
3. Bake until tops spring back when lightly pressed  and cakes begin to come away from sides of the pans, 20-25 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes. Run a knife around sides of each cake to release.  Invert each onto a wire rack. Remove pan; peel off wax paper. Invert  cakes; cool completely.<br>
<br>
4. For buttercream, place both chocolates in  microwave-safe bowl; microwave on 50 percent power, stirring, until  melted and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Cool. Beat egg, sugar and coffee in  small bowl of electric mixer, 5 minutes. Add cooled chocolate; beat to  just mix. Add butter, one piece at a time, beating until smooth. Add  vanilla; beat until mixture is the consistency of whipped cream, 2  minutes. Spread about one-third of buttercream over cake layer on the  plate. Cover with second layer, top side down. Cover top and sides of  cake with remaining buttercream. Garnish with chocolate shavings and  almonds. Refrigerate cake 2 hours. Serve chilled.<br>
<br>
Note: To blanch almonds, place in heat-proof bowl.  Pour boiling water over them; let stand about 1 minute or until skins  slip off easily. Drain; slip off skins. Dry thoroughly before grinding.<br>
<br>
<strong>Nutrition information</strong>: <em>Per serving: 456 calories, 59 percent of calories  from fat, 32 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 207 mg cholesterol, 37 g  carbohydrates, 12 g protein, 117 mg sodium, 4 g fiber</em>
sns-holiday-three-fabulous-passover-desserts-001

( Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune )

Prep: 1 hour

Cook: 28 minutes

Chill: 2 hours

Makes: 6 servings

This torte, adapted from "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts," has a simple elegance. She uses a buttercream frosting, but for a non-dairy meal, you could fill and top the cake with melted apricot preserves or another fruit jam.

1 cup whole almonds, blanched, see note

4 eggs, separated

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon rum or Cognac, optional

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Buttercream:

1 ounce each: unsweetened chocolate, semisweet chocolate

1 pasteurized egg

1/3 cup superfine sugar

1 teaspoon powdered instant coffee or espresso

3 ounces unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature, cut in 8 pieces

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate shavings, almonds, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with wax paper. Grease the paper; dust insides lightly with cocoa powder. Invert pans and tap to remove excess. Place almonds in a food processor; pulse to grind to a fine powder.

2. Beat egg yolks and sugar in medium bowl with electric mixer at high speed until light and pale, 5 minutes. Add cocoa, rum, vanilla and almond extracts. Beat at low speed just until mixed; set aside. Clean beaters. Place egg whites and salt in a clean bowl; beat with electric mixer on high speed until they hold stiff peaks but are not dry. Fold a large spoonful of the beaten egg whites into yolk mixture. Lightly fold remaining whites in three additions into yolk mixture. Pour batter into the cake pans; smooth surfaces.

3. Bake until tops spring back when lightly pressed and cakes begin to come away from sides of the pans, 20-25 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Run a knife around sides of each cake to release. Invert each onto a wire rack. Remove pan; peel off wax paper. Invert cakes; cool completely.

4. For buttercream, place both chocolates in microwave-safe bowl; microwave on 50 percent power, stirring, until melted and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Cool. Beat egg, sugar and coffee in small bowl of electric mixer, 5 minutes. Add cooled chocolate; beat to just mix. Add butter, one piece at a time, beating until smooth. Add vanilla; beat until mixture is the consistency of whipped cream, 2 minutes. Spread about one-third of buttercream over cake layer on the plate. Cover with second layer, top side down. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining buttercream. Garnish with chocolate shavings and almonds. Refrigerate cake 2 hours. Serve chilled.

Note: To blanch almonds, place in heat-proof bowl. Pour boiling water over them; let stand about 1 minute or until skins slip off easily. Drain; slip off skins. Dry thoroughly before grinding.

Nutrition information: Per serving: 456 calories, 59 percent of calories from fat, 32 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 207 mg cholesterol, 37 g carbohydrates, 12 g protein, 117 mg sodium, 4 g fiber

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