The last couple of Fridays I have been too busy to demo any recipes, so this week I wanted to be sure to make something extra delicious.
May is a huge month for birthdays in my family – there are about a dozen of us born in May in my extended family (myself and my husband included). You would think that would mean a lot of cake, but because we were so strewn out around the globe this month, some of the birthday celebrations are waiting until this summer when we all get to celebrate again. Not to be shorted any cake, I set out to make a decadent one today to make up for any missed opportunities this month!
Strawberry season is just starting on the West Coast (we won’t get any local ones until June – if we get some more sun!), but we have been getting in boxes of ginormous organic strawberries from California to tide us over. With that in mind, I set out to make a chocolate-strawberry torte to sample today.
I looked at many torte recipes. I ended up choosing one from my favorite recipe site – Cook’s Illustrated – because they haven’t steered me wrong yet! They had a recipe for Chocolate -Raspberry torte, which I easily adapted to use strawberries instead.
I recommend weighing the chocolate instead of measuring it – you may not use enough if you just measure it (oh the horror!). I have never made a cake that required you to press nuts on the side of it, and while this is messy, the cardboard cake rounds that the recipe calls for really do make a huge difference. If you don’t have any (most people don’t), then get out a cardboard box and trace a couple of circles using your cake pan and cut them out. If you line them with parchment paper or plastic wrap (wrapped around the top and taped to the bottom with masking tape) then you don’t have to worry about where the box has been.
I used Chocolate Necessities 65% Colombian chocolate (located in Bellingham), as well as local eggs. I love the Strawberry Sunfresh Freezer Jam (made in Seattle with Northwest berries) that we carry, so I used that along with some fresh strawberries for the filling.
It was a messy cake to sample (since I had to cut it into so many little bites), but when chocolate is involved, there usually aren’t many complaints!
Cake and Filling
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
- 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chopped into 1/2” pieces
- 2 t vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 c sliced almonds, lightly toasted*
- 1/4 c flour (GF blend or unbleached all-purpose)
- 1/2 t salt
- 5 large eggs
- 3/4 c sugar
- 1/2 c fresh strawberries**, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 c strawberry** jam
Chocolate Ganache Glaze
- 5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
- 1/2 c plus 1 T heavy cream
* toss in a skillet over medium heat until lightly browned
** you can also use raspberries
- For the cake: adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of two 9”x 2” cake pans with parchment paper.
- Melt chocolate and butter in a large heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1” simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Stir in vanilla.
- Process 3/4 c almonds in food processor until coarsely chopped, 6-8 one second pulses; set aside to garnish cake. Process remaining almonds until very finely ground, about 45 seconds.
- Add flour and salt and continue to process until they combine with the almonds, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a medium bowl.
- Process eggs in now-empty food processor until lightened in color and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes.
- With processor running, slowly add sugar until thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.
- Using a whisk, gently fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture until some streaks of egg remain.
- Sprinkle half of the almond flour mixture over the chocolate/egg mixture and gently whisk until just combined. Sprinkle in remaining almond flour and gently whisk until just combined. Do not over-mix!
- Divide batter between the two cake pans and smooth with a rubber spatula.
- Bake until center is firm and toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 14-16 minutes.
- Transfer cakes to wire rack and cool completely in pans, about 30 minutes. Once cakes are cooled, run a paring knife along the edge and transfer to cardboard rounds cut to the size of the cakes —one cake top side up, the other cake top side down.
- To Assemble Torte: Place 1/2 c sliced strawberries in a medium bowl and coarsely mash with a fork. Stir in jam until just combined. Spread strawberry mixture onto cake layer that is top side up. Top with second layer with the top side down. Transfer assembled cake to a wire rack set on a baking sheet (still on its cardboard round).
- For the Glaze: Melt chocolate and cream in a medium heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan filled with 1” simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and gently whisk until very smooth. Pour glaze onto center of assembled cake. Use an off-set spatula to spread the glaze evenly over the top of the cake, letting it flow down the sides. Spread glaze along sides of cake to coat evenly
- Sift reserved almonds to remove fine bits. Holding the bottom of cake with one hand, gently press sifted almonds onto cake sides with your other hand. Top with slices strawberries around the center. Refrigerate until glaze has set, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. (let stand at room temp for about 30 minutes before serving)