the dobos torta

8.27.2009

I've been extremely delayed on posting this one! It's not my fault, I've been too busy getting married! Yes! I got married on August 28th, 2009 to the love of my life! Well, before we had the wedding, my lovely bridesmaids threw me the most amazing bridal shower. The girls were so good from keeping all the planning for me so that I would not have a single worry about the party. But I persuaded them to at least let me make a cake. I decided to make the August challenge!

The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.

ingredients:
cake

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)
  • pinch of salt
chocolate buttercream
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
  • 4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.
caramel topping
  • 1 cup (200g) caster sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)
finishing
  • a 7” cardboard round
  • 12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted
  • ½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnuts
directions:
cake:

  1. Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C)
  2. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) spring form tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)
  3. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)
  4. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.
  5. Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4 cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" spring form pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task.)
chocolate buttercream:
  1. Prepare a double-boiler: quarter-fill a large saucepan with water and bring it to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the sugar until pale and thickened, about five minutes. You can use a balloon whisk or electric hand mixer for this.
  3. Fit bowl over the boiling water in the saucepan (water should not touch bowl) and lower the heat to a brisk simmer. Cook the egg mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until you see it starting to thicken a bit. Whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and cook, stirring, for a further 2-3 minutes.
  4. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
  5. When cool, beat in the soft butter, a small piece (about 2 tablespoons/30g) at a time. An electric hand mixer is great here, but it is possible to beat the butter in with a spatula if it is soft enough. You should end up with a thick, velvety chocolate buttercream. Chill while you make the caramel topping.
caramel topping:
  1. Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into 12 equal wedges. Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.
  2. Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-coloured caramel.
  3. The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. I also find it helps if the cake layer hasn't just been taken out of the refrigerator. I made mine ahead of time and the cake layer was cold and the toffee set very, very quickly—too quickly for me to spread it. Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. You will have some leftover most probably but more is better than less and you can always make nice toffee pattern using the extra to decorate. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into 12 equal wedges. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.
assembling the dobos:
  1. Divide the buttercream into six equal parts.
  2. Place a dab of chocolate buttercream on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate icing. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining icing on the sides of the cake.
  3. Optional: press the finely chopped hazelnuts onto the sides of the cake.
  4. Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. If you have any leftover buttercream, you can pipe rosettes under each hazelnut or a large rosette in the centre of the cake. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 2 hours. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavour.
The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

dark chocolate cupcakes

8.26.2009

It seems like a lot of people love dark chocolate but for some reason it is rare to find a dark chocolate cupcake. The key to these cupcakes is to use high quality cocoa powder. Here is my version:  

ingredients :
chocolate mayonnaise cupcake 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1-2/3 cups sugar 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup water
dark chocolate frosting 
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar 
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), softened 
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla  
directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder; set aside.
  3. In large mixer bowl with paddle attachment beat sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy on high speed, about 3-5 minutes. Add mayonnaise, reduce speed to medium and beat a couple of minutes longer.
  4. Add flour mixture to batter, alternating with water- starting and ending with flour. Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake for 12-15 minutes or cake tester comes out clean.
  5. For the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese together. Add vanilla.
  6. Sift cocoa and sugar together, beat into butter mixture.
  7. Frost cooled cupcakes with chocolate frosting. Enjoy!

deep red velvet cupcakes

8.11.2009

Happy Birthday to my future father-in-law!
This is just a slightly different take of my usual red velvet cupcakes. The heart is for Gary since these are his favorite cupcakes. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to eat any of this tasty batch. He has already moved down south leaving me here in NYC to wrap up the wedding plans and move. I miss you!

chocolate macaroons

8.10.2009

Every cloud has a silver lining, right? My macaroons were a bit of a failure and success at the same time. As a french macaroon, it was a failure but as a meringue cookie, it was delicious. It's been very humid lately but I really wanted to make macaroons for my friend, Angela. I wanted to thank her for letting me borrow her bike to train for a sprint triathlon. Due to the humidity, the egg whites had a hard time whipping up to a peak. So I left it alone for too long, and they were over whipped. This is something that cannot be undone, so I baked them anyways. And voila! Chocolate meringue cookies!
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