Dobos torte

When I saw photographs of the Dobos Torte at Cannelle Et Vanille I was completely inspired and could not wait to give it a go. My recreation is a far cry from the perfection of that dessert but I had great fun working with this recipe and let me tell you, the cake is pretty delicious. It's incredibly chocolatey! The buttercream is not your usual American-style buttercream, it's loaded with eggs which give it a velvety texture. The Dobos Torte was the Daring Bakers challenge in August 2012 and it certainly isn't a simple bake; it requires quite a bit of care and I was almost on the verge of ruining it!

The Recipe

Makes about 5 portions

INGREDIENTS

Sponge

  • 4 large eggs, whites and yolks, at room temperature
  • 108g icing sugar (2 × 54g)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 75g plain flour
  • 12g cornflour (cornstarch)
  • pinch of salt

Milk chocolate whipped cream

  • 250g whipping cream
  • 100g milk chocolate

Chocolate buttercream

  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 110g dark chocolate (70%)
  • 250g unsalted butter, soft

Instructions

For the milk chocolate whipped cream

Finely chop 100g of milk chocolate and put aside in a bowl. Measure 250g of cream in a saucepan and heat it up until just boiled. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is completely smooth. Set aside to cool, cover with cling film and chill in the fridge overnight.

For the sponge

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Separate four large eggs, put the whites* and yolks in medium bowls each. Add 54g of icing sugar and 1 tsp of vanilla paste in with the yolks. Beat on high speed until the mixture is pale and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted. This will take about 3 minutes.

Using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks have formed. Still beating, gradually add the remaining 54g of icing sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture, then gently fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible.

Combine the two flours and salt and sift over the egg mixture (you can do it in two batches). Carefully fold the flour in. Tip half of the sponge batter onto a 32 x 25 cm (approx.) tray lined with baking paper and spread evenly.  Bake for 5-7 min; once out of the oven transfer the sponge onto a wire rack to cool, then line the tray with a fresh piece of baking paper and bake the other half of the sponge.

For the chocolate buttercream

Finely chop 110g of dark chocolate and set aside. Prepare a double-boiler, quarter fill a saucepan with hot water and put it on low heat to bring it up to a simmer while you’re busy with the eggs.

Break the eggs into a heatproof bowl, add 180g of caster sugar** and beat on medium speed until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes. Fit the bowl over the saucepan ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Keep the saucepan on low heat and whisk the egg mixture constantly, for 2-3 min until it starts to thicken a bit (I used my hand held electric mixer here). Add the chopped chocolate and keep whisking for a further 2-3 min. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a medium bowl and leave to cool to room temperature. It should be quite thick and sticky in consistency, mine was a bit more runny than I expected but in the end it all worked out fine anyway so don’t worry.

Once the chocolate mixture has cooled, it’s time to incorporate the butter. This is a pressure point in this dessert! The butter must be soft otherwise you risk having lumps in your buttercream or separating the whole mixture by overwhisking it while trying to get the lumps to go away (can you just tell that this is something I have done?!). I had to beat the butter in for too long to get it to incorporate and I noticed it just starting to split on the edges of the bowl. I stopped whisking and had to put up with a few tiny butter lumps in the buttercream! So in order to avoid this happening to you I would advise you to put the soft butter (250g) in a separate bowl and beat it until light and fluffy. Only then start adding it to the chocolate mixture, 2 tbsp at a time, whisking after each addition only until combined. Once you’ve added all the butter cover the bowl with cling film and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. And really, wait until it’s firmed up, I wasn’t patient enough and this is why my layers aren’t perfectly level 😉 Be smarter!

To assemble the cakes

First, trim the longer dimension of the sponge sheets to 30cm (yes, use a ruler!). Then, divide the 30 cm side by 3 i.e. cut three 10 cm rectangles. Repeat the process with the other sponge sheet, you will end up with six 10 cm wide rectangles. Stack them up and trim all sides so that they are very even. Place the the first sheet on a board or a platter (whatever you wanna use) and spread a thin and even layer of chocolate buttercream. Cover it with another sheet of sponge and repeat the process until you have used all of the sponge. Cover the top and sides of the cake as well. Place it in the fridge to firm up further.

Once you’re ready to serve, take the chocolate cream out of the fridge and whip until firm. Cut the assembled cake into slices of desired size – I obtained 5 portions out of mine. Next, you want to put the chocolate cream on top of each slice. You can pipe it on or try to quenelle it. I attempted the latter but unfortunately the result wasn’t as amazing as what Cannelle Et Vanille achieved! To make the quenelles, use two fairly large teaspoons (I tried the one-handed quenelle but it didn’t work out….). You can heat one of the spoons to smooth the edges. Place the quenelles on top of the cake slices, two or three per slice. Decorate with chocolate shavings which worked wonderfully for me, disguising the imperfect quenelles 😛 I also tried plating up with a few dollops of whipped cream which I had left over from making the chocolate whipped cream. Keep the assembled desserts in the fridge until ready to serve. I found that it tasted best when chilled, it also had a better texture. ENJOY!

* do not try to whip the egg whites in a plastic bowl

** this quantity of sugar is already reduced from the original recipe but now I would reduce it even further, to 150g, this is more to my taste, just experiment with what you like!

Credits: recipe followed and adapted from here and here.

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