Sunday, August 22, 2010

National Pecan Torte Day: Chocolate Pecan Torte

August 22 is National Pecan Torte Day.  I've posted lots of chocolate pecan pie recipes, but a torte is not a pie
Here's a definition from Wiki:
A torte is a cake made primarily with eggs, sugar, and ground nuts instead of flour. Variations may include bread crumbs as well as some flour. Tortes are Central European in origin. The word torte is derived from the German word Torte, which was derived from the Italian word torta, which was used to describe a round cake or bread.
Tortes are commonly baked in a Springform pan. An element common to most tortes is sweet icing. (Exceptions include several French tortes, such as Gâteau Mercédès and Gâteau Alcazar.) When the cake is layered, a thick covering of icing is placed between the layers, and there is almost always icing on the tops and sides of the torte. A number of European tortes do not have layers.
Following are two recipes for Chocolate Pecan Torte. The FIRST is easier and fun to make! Lots of shortcuts. The SECOND is fabulous but much more involved. They're both very tasty! As always, a lot depends on the quality of your ingredients.

1. Chocolate Pecan Torte 
from This recipe is fun to make, as well as easy and delicious. O.K. it's not traditional, but its great!

No-stick flour and oil baking spray
1 prepared 8 or 9 inch pecan pie, thawed if frozen
1 box (about 1 pound 4 ounces) fudge brownie mix, makes a 9-by-13-inch pan
1/4 cup brewed coffee or water
2 tablespoons bourbon or other whiskey
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, large or extra-large

Heat the oven to 325F. Spray the interior of a 9-inch springform pan with baking spray.

Cover the surface of the pie with plastic wrap and top with a plate. Invert the pie onto the plate, and remove the pie tin. Invert the prepared springform pan over the pie and then invert the whole, so that the pie slides into the pan. Remove the plate and, using the plastic wrap to keep your hands clean, smash the pie so that it fills the bottom of the pan.

Mix the brownie mix, coffee, bourbon, oil, and eggs in a medium mixing bowl until smooth and the texture of wet mud. Pour over the pie and smooth the top. Bake until the sides are firm and the top is crusty but the center is still soft, about 50 minutes. Cool until the pan is comfortable to the touch; remove the sides of the pan and cool completely. Cut into wedges to serve.
This SECOND recipe won the $1000 1985 Woman's Day "Yummiest Chocolate Recipe Contest". I've changed it slightly, adding more chocolate and an apricot jam filling. This torte is more traditional and reminds me of a Viennese Torte. You can substitute raspberry or peach jam.

2. Chocolate Pecan Torte

Chocolate Pecan Torte:
12 oz. dark  chocolate (70% cacao-fair trade organic)
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 1/4 cup pecans
3/4 cup softened sweet butter
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
1/3 cup sifted flour
2 Tbs. dark rum
2 teaspoons Madagascar vanilla

Apricot Filling:
1/3 cup apricot jam
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Chocolate Glaze:
6 oz. dark chocolate (65-70% cacao)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons sweet butter

1/2 cup pecan halves
1 tablespoon sweet butter
1 tablespoon Apricot Filling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Butter a 9" springform pan and dust with cocoa, shaking out excess. Set aside.

In top of double boiler, over hot water, melt the two chocolates together. Stir until smooth, and completely combined. Remove from heat, and allow chocolate to cool slightly.

Using a food processor, grind  pecans fine with about 1/2 cup of the sugar. Add butter and remaining sugar, creaming together well. Beat in egg yolks, rum, and tvanilla extract. Now, add flour and process with the rest. Add melted and cooled chocolate, and process again. It's quite dense.

Whip egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Mix about 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the thick chocolate batter, then fold chocolate mixture into the remaining whites, folding thoroughly.

Spread chocolate batter into prepared springform pan, and bake in  preheated 325 degrees oven for 30 minutes or more, until a toothpick inserted in center comes slightly moist. Remove torte from the oven, and allow to cool and settle in pan. Take off springform, and transfer torte to its serving dish.

Sieve apricot jam into small saucepan. Add orange liqueur, rum, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat and simmer a moment, then remove pan. Reserve 1 tablespoon of finished glaze for the pecan trim, and spread rest over torte. Allow apricot filling to set, then top with the chocolate glaze.

In top of double boiler, over hot water, melt chocolate and  cream together. Remove from heat, and stir in butter, whisking till smooth. Allow glaze to cool until it will spread smoothly over torte. Use a metal spatula to smooth it evenly over top, and coat sides with a thinner layer.

In a small sauce pan, combine apricot glaze, and butter. Melt them together. Add pecan halves, and stir until all are coated. Drain nuts, and allow to set slightly, then press them around edge of torte.

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