I can’t believe it is the end of August already and time for another Daring Bakers challenge. I was quite disappointed with myself when I wasn’t able to finish last month’s recipe, but life got so busy that it was impossible. This month hasn’t been any different with my trip to New York for Sunday Suppers, my little boy’s summer activities, a new school year and a couple of small projects, but I finished it and here it is. Vanilla fleur de sel, caramel and chocolate Dobos Torte.
This is the first chocolate dessert I have made in a long time. The heat makes me crave fruit desserts, ice creams, granitas and such. When I started thinking about how to build this cake, I even thought I was going to temper some chocolate, but I gave up after the first attempt. It just wasn’t happening. Too hot and too humid. Even the caramel decorations only lasted an hour. But I have to say it was a hit with my friends and family for whom summer heat is no obstacle when it comes to chocolate and caramel.
If you have never had vanilla fleur de sel, I encourage you to taste it. The contrast of the coarse salt with the warm and sweet vanilla is outstanding. It really made this dessert. It added texture and contrast in flavor that everyone noticed. It can be a bit expensive, but a little goes a long way. There are many purveyors, but I got mine from here.
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.
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
1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).
2.Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and spray with cooking oil.
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.
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.Spread the batter amongst the sheet pans. Bake at 400F until lightly golden on top, about 7 min. Let the sponge cool.
Vanilla Fleur de Sel, Chocolate and Caramel Buttercream
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar
4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
175 grams caramel syrup
3 grams vanilla fleur de sel
1.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.
2.Fit bowl over a water bath. 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.
3.Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency.
4.Fold in the caramel syrup and the fleur de sel.
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. Let it chill for a couple of hours.
Milk Chocolate Chantilly
250 grams heavy cream
90 grams milk chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1.Boil the cream and pour over the milk chocolate. Stir until the chocolate has melted. Let this ganache rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then whip it as whipped cream.
200 grams of sugar
1.In a small saucepan, sprinkle about a quarter of the sugar into an even thin layer.
2.Turn the heat up to medium high. When the sugar starts to melt and turn caramel, sprinkle another 50 grams of sugar approximately and stir gently. The heat from the melted sugar will start to melt the new sugar we added. proceed like that until all sugar has been added and it has melted into a dark caramel.
3.Shock the pan quickly in an ice bath and let the caramel cool slightly until it is not too runny but not too hard.
4.Oil a round cookie cutter that is about 2″ in diameter. With a spoon, lift some of the caramel and wrap it around the cookie cutter. It might take a couple of tries to get the consistency right.
5.Let the caramel harden around the ring for a few seconds and then gently remove it. Store the caramel decorations in an air tight container. Depending on the humidity in your kitchen, they might last up to a day.
Assemble the Torte
1. Cut the half sheet pan of sponge in half. Flip over and peel off the parchment from the bottom. Divide the buttercream into five equal parts.
2.Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the first layer of sponge on top of it. Spread one fifth of the buttercream, top with another layer of sponge. Proceed like that until all four layers of sponge are used and finished with a leyr of buttercream. Freeze the cake for an hour to make it easier to cut.
3. Whip the milk chocolate chantilly and reserve in the fridge.
4. Cut the torte into rectangles. Spoon quenelles of the milk chocolate chantilly on top of the torte. Sprinkle vanilla fleur de sel on top and top with caramel circles. Serve immediately.