Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons
Rating: 4 out of 5 (challenging and time consuming but oh-so-delicious!)
Initial Thoughts: Gulp.
The Test: The last cover recipe in my year-long quest of making each of the 12 covers from Bon Appétit Magazine. Talk about going out with a bang! This picture perfect chocolate torte first appeared on the cover of the magazine in 1984, and apparently it has been the most requested recipe in the history of this publication.
Before attempting this recipe, I went online and read the 30 plus comments left by readers. This was probably a good thing as it enabled me to approach this recipe with my eyes wide open. With the general consensus being that the cake was very time consuming with mediocre results, I cleared my entire weekend and rolled up my selves determined to give it my best shot.
The Cake Pretty straight forward although there are quite a few steps involved (beating sugar, cream and egg batter, melting and blending chocolate into the mix, folding dry ingredients into batter in multiple batches, and whipping and folding in egg whites). The end result is a batter that is very thick and dense in texture, but smells absolutely divine with the combination of spices that include cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Perfect flavours to pair up against rich, dark chocolate. NOTE: ignore recipe baking times as a number of people including myself found the suggested times to be much too long, and unfortunately my cakes ended up overcooked and a little dry.
The Buttercream Making the buttercream was probably my favourite element of the entire recipe. Would you consider me too much of a food geek if I said I had a lot of fun whipping this up?! It was incredibly satisfying to watch the icing froth up and become this lovely, glossy mass of light as air cake filler. Don’t know whether I can credit beginners luck for my success, but I didn’t have any problems with the icing seizing when I added the cooler tempered butter into the warm sugar and egg mixture. However if this happens, simply set your bowl over simmering water to relax the icing and melt all lumpy bits. Yes, ‘lumpy bits’ is a technical term. NOTE: chilling the buttercream makes layering the cake much easier, and I also found it useful to stick chop sticks into the cake to hold the layers together while placed in the freezer.
The Glaze Making the glaze was simple, but I did find I had to stir the mixture for much longer than the mere five minutes suggested in the recipe. I think I waited for close to half an hour before the chocolate had thickened enough to spread over the cake, and even after that long it was still runny enough to make icing the sides of the cake an extremely frustrating task. NOTE: next time I would trim the cake first, allowing for more of an even surface upon which to spread the glaze, and I would also let the chocolate firm up more prior to icing the cake.
The Ribbons As if a three layer chocolate torte with buttercream and rich chocolate glaze weren’t enough, the recipe calls for adorning the cake with white and dark chocolate ribbons! This is done by mixing corn syrup to melted chocolate which creates a pliable mixture called modeling chocolate. The recipe suggests using a pasta maker to roll out the sheets of chocolate prior to cutting into ribbons, but I would have to agree with the other readers who found this method to be useless and messy.
If I were to attempt the ribbons again I would simply use a rolling pin, a tactic which many people found to work perfectly well. As for my ribbons, I found the white chocolate mixture much too oily and soft while the dark chocolate quickly became much too hard to use. In the end I chucked the chocolate. Lord knows there would still be enough calories left on the cake without the decadent bow and ribbons! NOTE: according to the Sweet Silent Thoughts blog there are a whopping 1,235.9 calories a serving for this recipe!
The Results: As you can tell, this cake is a labour of love. So was it worth it in the end? I can safely say yes, but I would only consider making it for special occasions. VERY special occasions. Because of the length of time it takes to prepare this dessert as well as the expense of the ingredients (all that chocolate is not cheap people!) I would not whip this up for an ordinary Sunday dinner. That being said, I would definitely consider making a scaled down version of this cake on a more regular basis, perhaps making only two layers and not even bothering to attempt the ribbons. Despite being overcooked, the cake tasted incredible and the unexpected flavour of cloves really made this recipe stand out from the crowd of ordinary chocolate cakes. It was very rich and dense in texture; Mr. Spock compared it to a moist version of biscotti which I think is an accurate description. The buttercream was silky smooth and not too sweet, the hint of rum cutting through the chocolate and adding a nice richness to the torte. The glaze was a fantastic way to top the whole thing off, although some people found it a little much. But that’s the whole point of this cake…it’s all a little much.
For a copy of the recipe for Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons, please click HERE
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