Cakes · Desserts

The Fanciest Dessert I’ve Ever Made! Chocolate-Raspberry Sachertorte

Last year when I was in Prague with my abroad class, we ate dinner at a lovely restaurant across the Charles Bridge. My dinner there was the greatest meal of my life, and it was not just because my waiter looked like Adrian Brody. I would sell my soul to learn how to cook the food from that restaurant. Everyone in my class ordered a different thing, so we were each passing our plates around and getting some of each other’s food. Everything I ate there was fantastic, except for dessert. I got so excited when I saw the Sachertorte (a very rich chocolate torte) on the dessert tray, I figured that it would be best dessert ever, considering how my dinner had been. Instead, the cake was dry and the ganache was too thin. The only good thing about it was a sweet layer of raspberry jam in between the dry cakes. I decided that I would make a better one myself someday.

Fast forward to a few months ago, I picked up the 2012 edition of The Best of America’s Test Kitchen and saw a Sachertorte on the cover! I really wanted to make it, but I wanted to wait for a special event to make a dessert that seemed so grown-up. I felt that taking the time to make such a fine, rich dessert only to have it be demolished by a bunch of college boys with the munchies would not be adequate. When my English professor from this past semester invited my class over to dinner at her house, I knew it would be the perfect event for such a torte to be eaten.


I started with the chocolate base for the torte. I melted butter and finely chopped bittersweet chocolate in a double boiler…

…stirring occasionally until it all melted together like this.

 Side note: Being an avid cook while in college can lead to some strange occurrences in the kitchen, i.e. my mishap with the food processor, having too many mismatched pots and pans, and so my double boiler didn’t exactly fit into the pot of simmering water.
I set the chocolate mixture on the counter to let it cool to room temperature and then mixed in vanilla and espresso powder. Next, I ground almonds in a food processor (this one was borrowed from my mom). Then I pulsed flour and salt with the almonds.


Then, the recipe said to process the eggs in a food processor until they double in size. Well, having the tiny, working food processor that I did, I knew that the 5 eggs I needed would not fit in it. So, I was left to my own devices. A whisk and my own willpower.
I have whipped eggs by hand before, but it’s such a bitch that I avoid it as often as I can. I didn’t get them to fully whipped this time, but when they got pretty foamy, I called it good. Then, I added the sugar to the eggs and poured it into the cooled chocolate…
..and stirred until only a few egg streaks remained. 
After that was mixed, I added half of the almond and flour mixture to it, whisked until just combined, added the other half and whisked that until just combined as well.
Then I poured the batter into two parchment paper-lined cake pans…

and baked them for about 18 minutes.

Then I let them cool in the pans for 30 minutes. I ran a paring knife around the sides of the pans and inverted them onto plates to rest while I made the jam. I started that by smashing raspberries in a bowl.
 Then I added some seedless raspberry jam…
…and stirred them together. The jam didn’t completely mix in with the raspberry mash, but it was fine.
Then I spread the raspberry jam mixture over the bottom layer of the torte. 
Next, I put the top layer of the torte on top of the bottom one upside-down, so that the top would be even for the ganache.
Then came the ganache! I chopped up some more bittersweet chocolate and put it in a double boiler with some heavy cream.
I let that all melt together…
…and then gave it a gentle whisking.
After that, I poured the ganache over the torte and spread it with my split-level spatula.
I then realized that the way that the ganache fell over the cake was not very attractive, and that the ganache would dry like that. I wanted this torte to be much prettier so I transferred it to a lined baking sheet by using two spatulas lifting it up from the bottom.
I was able to spread it out pretty well, and I garnished it with some raspberries on top. Then I sprinkled chopped walnuts (the recipe says to use almonds, but all I had was walnuts) along the sides and gently pushed the nuts into the ganache. I transferred it to a new, clean plate and stood in awe of my work. I was damn proud of this thing! After I had my moment, I put it in the fridge for an hour to let the glaze set.
The cake was so moist and full of chocolate, and the ganache was in a perfect layer across the top. The raspberry jam added a lovely tartness between the rich layers of chocolate. If this torte had been served to me at that restaurant in Prague, I would not be back in the states today. I would have stayed there and married the Adrian Brody waiter (Sorry, Ty) and make this torte every day.
Recipe for Chocolate-Raspberry Torte: From The 2012 edition of The Best of America’s Test Kitchen
For Cake and Filling:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine 
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 3/4 cups sliced almonds, lightly toasted
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
5 large eggs
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, plus berries for garnish
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam 
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
For the cake and filling:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Melt chocolate and butter in large bowl over a saucepan filled with 1 inch of simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Stir in vanilla and espresso powder.
Pulse 3/4 cup almonds in a food processor until coarsely chopped , 6 to 8 pulses; set aside to garnish cake. Process remaining 1 cup until very finely ground, about 45 seconds. Add flour mixture to 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 almond mixture and gently whisk until just combined.
Divide batter between cake pans and smoother with rubber spatula. Bake until centers are firm and toothpick inserted into center of cakes comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cakes cool completely in pans on wire rack, about 30 minutes. Run paring knife around the sides of cakes, invert onto cardboard rounds cut same size as cakes, and remove parchment. Using plate or wire rack, reinvert 1 cake so top side faces up; slide back onto cardboard round.
Place 1/2 cup raspberries in medium bowl and coarsely mash with fork. Add raspberry jam to bowl and stir until just combined. Spread raspberry mixture onto cake layer that is top side up. Top with second layer of cake, leaving  bottom side up. Transfer assembled cake, still on cardboard round, to wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet. 
For Glaze:
Melt chocolate with cream in bowl set over saucepan with 1 inch simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat and gently whisk until very smooth. Pour glaze onto center of cake. Use offset spatula to spread glaze over top of cake., letting it flow down the sides. Spread glaze along sides of cake to coat evenly. 
Using a fine-mesh strainer, sift reserved almonds to remove any fine bits. Holding bottom of cake on cardboard round with one hand, gently press sifted almonds onto cake sides with other hand. Set cake on serving platter and arrange individual raspberries around circumference. Refrigerate cake until glaze is set, at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Slice and serve.

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