This week my family has been throwing around a barrage of bad lawyer jokes. Why? My sister passed the bar and was officially sworn in as a lawyer! When I found out the good news, I thought it would be fun to celebrate by baking up something special. At first I tried to find a cake that screamed "Counselor" or "Esquire" to me, but then the obvious choice came to mind. One of her least favorite things in law school was tort reform, so I knew that a chocolate torte would be perfect. I also knew that I'd have to some how make it "reformed." It seemed to fit the spirit of the bad jokes, so I went about finding a recipe.
The one I decided on was pretty standard — although I wish I'd spent a little bit more time researching, this particular recipe is a bit dry — but instead of serving it as a traditional layer cake, I served it layered in a fancy wine glass. I dolloped it with whipped cream and sprinkled it with a bit of cocoa powder. The end result is a simple but elegant dessert; one fit for a new lawyer.
To check out my version of "Torte Reform,"
To make my "Torte Reform" I baked up a traditional Sachertorte recipe. This particular one comes out quite dry, it called for 45 minutes of baking time, but I switched it down to 35. It probably should have gone down to 30. However once coated — and I mean coated — with the apricot glaze it moistens up pretty well.
Once I had the cake baked and cooled, I sliced it into two layers and cut circles out using the glass I planned to serve it in as a cutter. Next I layered a ring of cake, followed by a layer of apricot jam, another layer of cake, more jam, chocolate glaze — poured on thick so that it would seep down into the cracks — and a dollop of whipped cream and dusting of cocoa powder. More or less your traditional Sachertorte, just not in the same form.
If you'd prefer to make a more traditional cake, cut the cake into two layers, and fill with apricot jam. Top entire cake with chocolate glaze. I'd recommend this chocolate fudge glaze and a high quality jam.
4 1/2 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour (spoon gently into cup and level top)
[Note: I used dark chocolate chips instead, it came out okay, but really needed a larger chocolate flavor. Also, this cake is only going to be as good as your ingredients.]
- To make the torte: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400°F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment or wax paper. Dust the sides of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.
- In the top part of a double boiler over very hot, but not simmering, water, or in a microwave at medium power, melt the chocolate. Remove from the heat or the oven, and let stand, stirring often, until cool.
- Beat the butter in the bowl of a heavy-duty standing mixer fitted with the paddle blade on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. On low speed, beat in the confectioners' sugar. Return the speed to medium-high and beat until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the chocolate and vanilla.
- Beat the egg whites and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer on high speed just until they form soft, shiny peaks. Do not overbeat. Stir about one fourth of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites, leaving a few visible wisps of whites. Sift half of the flour over the chocolate mixture, and fold in with a large balloon whisk or rubber spatula. Repeat with the remaining flour.
- Spread evenly in the pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. (The cake will dome in the center.) Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan, and invert the cake onto the rack. Remove the paper and reinvert on another rack to turn right side up. Cool completely.
Note: If you do glaze your cake, make sure you do a "crumb layer" firsts. This crumb layers seals the crumbs in, and ensures a smooth finish when you apply the second layer of glaze. This is a photo of the crumb layer.