06 December, 2014

12 Days of Christmas, Day 6: Raspberry Chocolate Torte

Christmas is the time of year when you try to give your friends and family the very best of what you have to offer in every respect of the word.  One of my favorite things to eat is, of course, chocolate.   When I rifle through recipes there are everyday things I am willing to make at the drop of a hat like cookies and cupcakes, and then there are things that I only mess with for holidays or birthdays.

When I take into consideration my baking abilities, you'd think there wouldn't be much that I couldn't handle, but....alas...there actually ARE some things I hate to make.  Tortes and largish scaled cakes would be among those things.  The dreaded half sheet of anything usually gives me a duck and cover reaction.  Depending on the torte a "Hell no!" response has been known to come out of my mouth.  Check it...  Search through this website lol...nary a torte to be found that I can recall.  But, when you are taking other people into consideration it is easier to bite the bullet and just make somethin'.  

My father's favorite fruit is raspberries.  I decided if I was going to go to the trouble of making a torte, I might as well make something he and I could both appreciate.  Thus, the recipe that follows...

Raspberry Chocolate Torte

8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
12 T. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 tsp. vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. espresso powder
1 3/4 c. toasted almonds, sliced
1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
5 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. raspberries, plus more for garnishing
1 c. raspberry jam

5 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 c. + 1 T. heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325 F

Grease 2 round 9 inch cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Flour the exposed edges of the pan and set them aside.

Using a double boiler, melt the butter and semi-sweet chocolate together.  When completely melted and smooth, remove from heat and let it cool completely, this will take about a half hour.  When it is cooled add in the vanilla paste and espresso powder.

In a food processor pulse 3/4 c. of almonds until they are roughly chopped and set them aside.  Process the remaining 1 c. of almonds until they are the consistency of almond meal...very fine.  Add the flour and salt and continue to process until they are well combined.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.  Process your egg until they have lightened in color  and have doubled in volume.  Then with the processor still running slowly add in the sugar and process until it is thoroughly combined.  Then using a whisk fold the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture gently.  There should still be some streaks of egg in the chocolate.  Don't over mix!

Sprinkle half of the almond mixture into the chocolate mixture and gently fold the almond mixture in.  When that is combined, add in the remaining almond mixture until it is combined.  Again...don't over mix.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and shake the pans lightly across a flat surface to even out the batter disbursement.  Bake for 14-16 minutes or until toothpick clean and then put them on a wire rack to cool.  Let them cool completely before removing them from the pan.

While the cake is baking, mash the fresh raspberries with a fork and stir in the jam until they are well combined.  Set it aside.

Just before you're ready to assemble the cake to make the ganache, melt the chocolate with the heavy cream in a medium sized glass bowl using the double boiler method.  Whisk it until it is very smooth and set it aside until you're ready to pour it over the assembled cake.

To assemble the cakes, turn the round cakes out onto the cooling rack and find what you want to serve it on first.  I used the glass plate from my springform pan.  Which ever of the cake rounds was damaged the least when it was removed from the cake pans is the one that you should use for your TOP cake.  Take the one you have chosen for the bottom and place it TOP side down onto the serving plate.  Pour the raspberry filling onto the top of that cake and spread it to the edges leaving about a 1/2 inch of room to the edge.  This will stop your filling from oozing out a ton when you place the top of the torte over the filling.  

(***Side note:  I have been known to secretly "pipe" a line of very THICK chocolate ganache around the edge of my bottom layer of torte.  This serves two fold to keep the ALL of raspberry filling between the layers and also helps hold the top to the bottom more securely.  This method is often used by professional bakers when making layered and filled cakes for weddings, etc.  If you want to do this, you'll have to make two batches of ganache.  One as directed above and then one with only 1/4 c. heavy cream + 1 T. with the 5 oz. of semi sweet chocolate.  You will have to have some kind of bag to pipe it around the edges.  A ziploc with the corner cut off would work.***)

When you've finished spreading the filling onto the bottom layer, gently lay the second cake over the top of it, top up.  Meaning the side you saw when it was baking should still be facing you when you put the cake on the filling.  Push it gently to make sure it adheres to the filling.  Then pour the ganache onto the center of the top cake allowing it to cascade over the sides.  Using an off set spatula, spread the ganache around so it falls down everywhere evenly.  The whole cake should be covered with the chocolate ganache.

Once the cake has been covered with chocolate gently press the 3/4 c. of roughly processed almonds into the the sides of the cake with your hands.  When you're finished, place the extra raspberries you selected on the top of the cake, top side down.  Like so...

Allow the cake to set completely...about an hour...before cutting and serving.  You should...  But we didn't.  We couldn't wait!

This is one of the best torte recipes I have come across in a long time.  The crumb on this cake is wonderful.  This torte is very moist, thanks to the filling and extremely low amount of flour.  The espresso really set off the depth of the chocolate flavor.  It is SO important to use high quality chocolate when chocolate is the main component of the dessert.  Ghirardelli or Valrhona are excellent chocolate choices and should be in most grocery stores.  Also, I used homemade raspberry jam made with raspberries grown in our back yard this year.  It is hard to top that for freshness!  Same with the raspberries on top; from our garden.  For those that are extra adventurous you could also do this torte with strawberries or cherries.  I LOVE cherries and I would attempt this again just to have cherries with the chocolate and almonds.  Either way, this would make a beautiful addition to any Christmas table.  I hope you try this recipe at least once.  You'll be surprised at how truly easy it was to make.  I was!

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