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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Esterhazy Torte

The Esterhazys were a rich Austro-Hungarian noble family and major patrons of composer Joseph Haydn.  

The palaces [Schloss Eisenstadt, right] are mostly gone, but the torte remains.

The torte consists of six thin, nut meringue layers made with a mixture of ground hazelnuts and almonds.  The layers are filled with a buttercream, while the top layer is covered with an apricot glaze and is then covered with a faux fondant icing feathered with melted dark chocolate.

You can buy Esterhazy torte at Dean and Deluca.  It is very good and I like having a fall back positions.    

The recipe below is from Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague by Rick Rodgers.  I have made it twice and it works – lots of fun when there are witnesses….

Cake layers
½ cup  or 2 ½ ounces hazelnuts  [toasted and peeled]
½ cup natural or 2 ounces blanched almonds
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
5 large egg whites are room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar

Position a rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350º F.  Butter a 17 x 11 inch jelly-roll pan; line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. [Cut slashes in the corners of the paper to help them fold neatly.]

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade, process the hazelnuts, almonds, and confectioners’ sugar until the nuts are finely chopped. [See, P.S. below] In a large grease-free bowl, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the granulated sugar and whip until stiff, shiny peaks form.  Fold in the nuts.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared jelly-roll pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Unmold the cake onto a cutting board, peal off the parchment paper, and cool completely.  The, trim the edges to even out, and cut the cake vertically into six 2 ¾ -inch-wide strips.

Buttercream filling

1 cup milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 cup [2 sticks] unsalted butter at room temperature cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons kirsch or cognac or rum

Heat ¼ cup of the milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add the cornstarch and whisk to dissolve.  Whisk in the sugar, then the egg yolks.  Add the remaining ¾ cup of milk and whisk over medium heat until very thick.  Remove form the heat and transfer to a bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water; stir and cool.   Using a hand-held electric mixer, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, then add the kirsch.


¼ cup warm apricot jam
Faux Fondant [see recipe below]
1 ounce bittersweet melted chocolate
½ cup sliced almonds

Place the best-looking nut layer on a wire rack, smooth side up.  Spread this layer with warm apricot jam and let stand for about 15 minutes.  Pour warm fondant icing over the jam letting any excess drip over the sides.  Pipe four thin line of chocolate about ¾ inch apart along the entire length of the icing.  To make a feathered effect, at one-inch intervals, draw a wooden toothpick in straight line perpendicular to the long lines of chocolate.  Let stand until the icing and chocolate are firm.

Meanwhile, place 1 nut lawyer on a cutting board; spread it with about 3 tablespoons of the buttercream.  Repeat with the remaining layers, ending with the buttercream.  Spread the remaining buttercream around the sides of the cake.  Press sliced almonds onto the sides.  Top with the iced layer.

Refrigerate uncovered for at least one hour prior to slicing.  This recipe yields 8 slices.

Faux Fondant Icing

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons warm  water
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a small sauce pan; stir over low heat until the glaze is barely warm, 92º to 95ºF.  Use immediately.

P.S.  If you live near a Trader Joe's, you can find a variety of ground nuts, including almond meal [usually] and hazelnut meal [from time to time], and skip the food processing work.

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