Hungarian Chocolate-Walnut Torte

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Yield: About

    10

    servings

Appears in

This is a taste of prewar Hungary, from the family repertoire of my dear friend Judy Abrams, gifted teacher and poet. Based on ground walnuts and leavened only with eggs, the light, fudge-luscious cake has not a jot of butter or flour, making it Passover-perfect for meat and dairy meals.

To conclude a meat meal, serve it plain or dusted fancifully with confectioners’ sugar (a Passover recipe without cornstarch follows) or glazed with a simple chocolate icing.

As a dairy dish, the torte is exquisite covered in swirls of lightly sweetened whipped cream or with scoops of vanilla ice cream on the side, accompanied by a steaming cup of strong cappuccino.

Enjoy this beautifully moist and virtually no-fail torte not just on Passover but year-round. When well wrapped (without icing), it keeps very well, tasting even better a day or two after it is made.

As with all nut pastries, be sure the walnuts you are using are very fresh-tasting.

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Ingredients

  • ¾ cup sugar (if using half semisweet and half sweet chocolate) or ¾ cup plus
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (if using all semisweet chocolate)
  • 6 ounces fine-quality chocolate (preferably half dark sweet, sometimes labeled German sweet Chocolate, and half semisweet, but all semisweet is also delicious), cut into small pieces
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 6 ounces (about 1¾–2 cups) shelled walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons matzoh meal

Optional Accompaniments

Method

  1. Have all ingredients at room temperature.
  2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch square cake pan or a 9-inch Springform pan with parchment or wax paper.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set a rack in the lower third of the oven.
  4. In a heavy-bottomed 2- or 3-quart saucepan, combine ½ cup of the sugar and ½ cup of water and bring to a boil, stirring constantly over medium heat. Continue boiling and stirring until all the grains of sugar have completely dissolved and the mixture forms a simple syrup. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.
  5. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until light and fluffy. Grind the walnuts with the remaining sugar and the matzoh meal in a food processor using the pulse motion and stir into the egg yolks. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and combine thoroughly.
  6. Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites in another bowl until they hold stiff peaks. Gradually fold the whites into the chocolate-walnut mixture, incorporating them gently but thoroughly so that no whites are visible. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35–40 minutes, or until puffed and almost set but still a little gooey in the center. A wooden toothpick inserted 1 inch from the edge should come out clean.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool on a rack. When completely cool, unmold the cake by running a thin-bladed knife around the edges of the cake to release it from the pan (or release the Springform); invert onto a platter. Peel off the parchment or wax paper. Serve the torte at room temperature.
  8. If desired, lightly dust with Passover confectioners’ sugar. For a lovely, simple presentation, place a doily or a stencil—handmade by you or, even better, your children—over the torte, then sprinkle with sugar. Carefully remove the doily or stencil.
  9. Or glaze with chocolate icing. Lay long strips of wax paper or foil on a cake plate or serving platter and place the cake on top. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Using a spatula, evenly spread the glaze over the top and sides. Now pull out and discard the paper or foil strips—the plate will be clean and ready for serving. If you’d like, garnish with a few walnut halves attractively placed in the center of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for about an hour to set the glaze, but bring it to room temperature before serving.
  10. The plain or frosted torte is heavenly with generous dollops of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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