Passover Hazelnut-Chocolate Viennese Torte
- 1 potato starch (or sugar) for the pan
- 6 large eggs, 5 of them separated
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 tsp. lemon juice, preferably fresh
- 3/4 C. sugar, divided
- 2 tsp. freshly grated lemon rind
- 3 oz. very finely grated semisweet or dark bar chocolate
- 2 1/2 C. very finely ground, unblanched hazel nuts
- 1/4 C. sweet Passover wine, sherry, or flavored brand
- 1/2 C. apricot (or other) jam or preserves
- 1/3 C. water
- 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 C. sugar
- 1/2 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 C. ground hazelnuts for the sides of the tort
- 12 whole hazelnuts
- 1 oz. semisweet or dark bar chocolate
Grease a 9-inch springform pan well, and coat it with potato starch (or sugar), tapping out any excess. If desired line the bottom of the pan with wax paper to make removal of the cake easier. Set aside.
For the batter, in a large mixing bowl, beat the 5 egg whites with the salt and lemon juice until foamy. Then very gradually add 1/4 C. of the sugar, and continue beating the whites until they form stiff, but not dry, peaks.
Use the same beaters and another bowl to beat the 5 egg yolks and the additional whole egg with the remaining 1/2 C. sugar and the lemon rind until they are very light and fluffy. Gently, but thoroughly, fold the beaten whites into the beaten yolk mixture. Then fold in the grated chocolate and ground hazelnuts. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the torte in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50-55 minutes, or until the top springs back when gently pressed with a fingertip. Leave the torte in the oven, turn off the heat, and open the oven door slightly. After 10 minutes, remove the torte from the oven. Run a knife around the edge of the torte to release it from the pan rim; then cool the torte for 30 minutes longer in the pan. Remove the pan rim, and cool the torte completely on the pan bottom. (The center of the torte will settle slightly.)
Cover a 9- or 10-inch cardboard circle with a heavy duty aluminum foil or freezer paper, for a base (or use a cake platter). Invert the torte onto the prepared base and remove the bottom of the pan (and the wax paper, if used). Sprinkle the wine evenly over the torte. Heat the jam (in a small saucepan on the stove, or in a small heatproof bowl in the microwave oven) until it is thinned; then brush or spread the jam all over the torte. (This not only adds flavor, but also evens out the surface of the cake so the chocolate glaze will be perfectly smooth.)
For the chocolate glaze, combine the water, oil, sugar, and cocoa in a small saucepan and mix very well. Cook the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly for 10-14 minutes, or until the glaze thickens slightly and is very smooth and shiny. For the best flavor and texture, it should not boil. Remove the glaze from the heat and stir it for 3-4 minutes longer, or until it cools slightly and gets a bit thicker. Pour all the glaze in the center of the torte, and immediately use a metal or rubber spatula to evenly spread it all over the top and sides. Wipe up any drips from the cardboard base or serving platter.
Let the torte rest a few minutes until the glaze begins to set, but is still soft. Press handfuls of ground hazelnuts all over the sides of the torte, but not the top. Arrange the whole hazelnuts, evenly spaced, in a circle on top of the torte, about 1 inch in from the edge. Heap some chocolate curls (or coarsely grated bar chocolate) in the center of the torte (where it may have settled a bit). Refrigerate the uncovered, completed torte for several hours or, preferably, overnight so that the glaze can set, and the flavors and textures can "mellow."
For the best flavor and texture, remove the torte from the refrigerator a few hours before serving.
Yield: 12 servings