6 large eggs, separated
1 cup (226 grams) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
9 ounces (255 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chopped
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
8 ounces (227 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter
1 tablespoon or brandy (optional)
Chocolate Torte: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter a 9 x 3 inch (23 x 8 cm) springform pan or spray with a nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
Separate the eggs while still cold, placing the egg whites in one bowl and the egg yolks in another bowl. Cover both with plastic wrap and bring to room temperature (about 30 minutes).
Meanwhile, melt the butter and chocolate in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water.
Place egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in the bowl of your electric mixer (can also use a hand mixer). Beat on medium high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 3-5 minutes. (The eggs should have tripled in volume, look thick and soft, and when you lift the beater the mixture falls back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.) Beat in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate mixture.
In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula or whisk, fold a small amount of whites into the egg yolk mixture to lighten the batter. Add the remaining egg whites, folding just until incorporated. Do not over mix or the batter will deflate.
Pour into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Bake the cake for about 50 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. (During baking the surface of the cake will form a crust which will collapse when the cake is removed from the oven.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. The top of the cake will have become hard with a cracked surface and lots of crumbs. Serve with softly whipped cream. Note: If covering the torte with ganache, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a few hours or up to a few days.
Ganache: Place the chopped chocolate in a stainless steel bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. If desired, add the liqueur.
Assemble: Remove torte from refrigerator and brush any loose crumbs from the cake. Place on a wire rack, top of the cake facing down (so now the bottom of the cake is facing up). Put the wire rack on a baking sheet. In this way if the chocolate ganache drips it will fall on the baking sheet, which makes clean up easier. Pour the ganache into the center of the cake. Spread the ganache with a spatula, using big strokes to push the ganache over the sides of the cake, to create an even coating. If there are any bare spots on the sides of cake, cover with ganache. If there is leftover ganache, strain to remove crumbs, and with a hand mixer or whisk, beat until light and fluffy. Place in a piping bag, fitted with a Wilton 1M open star tip, and pipe rosettes on top of the cake. Refrigerate cake. I find this cake is best served the next day as it allows the flavors to blend. Cut the cake in small slices with a sharp knife, wiping off the knife after slicing each piece. If you have problems cutting the slices, warm the blade of the knife under hot running water before cutting each slice.
Serves 10 to 12.
A Chocolate Torte is a European-style cake that has become very popular in North America. It is a rustic looking cake that has a rich chocolate flavor, and a soft, almost pudding-like texture. I love its broken and cracked surface and sunken top. It can be served simply with softly whipped cream or, for a more formal presentation, it can be covered with a smooth and shiny coating of Ganache, made with chocolate and cream.
Chocolate tortes have just a few ingredients; unsalted butter, chocolate, eggs, and sugar. There is a large proportion of eggs in this cake and they provide the leavening. This cake does rise during baking but sinks after it is removed from the oven (as it does not contain flour). You will notice the center of the cake sinks more than the outside rim and that is how it should be. The outside surface of the cake will be broken, cracked, and crusty. If pieces do fall off, just press them back into place. Eating this cake the day it is made gives you an intense chocolate flavor with a smooth and soft texture. It will be quite fragile when sliced. My personal preference is to make this torte the day before serving. Once it has been refrigerated overnight it becomes dense and fudgy (like a brownie) with a mellow chocolate flavor. Either way is delicious. For everyday I like to serve this cake plain, maybe with a dollop of whipped cream. Other times I like to cover it with a layer of Ganache with raspberry or strawberry sauce served on the side.
Note: Americans apply the word "Torte" to any type of European-style cake that contains little or no flour, although sometimes containing ground nuts or breadcrumbs. In Europe, "Torte" or "Torta" is the name used for any single or multi-layered decorated cake containing rich ingredients.