Thursday, February 5, 2015



I am not quite sure why Valentine's Day is celebrated. Well most people would say that it is a day to celebrate love. Well my question is shouldn't love be celebrated everyday. Ah! love you wicked wicked emotion. While I was growing up this Valentine's Day craze was there everywhere in India. What I observed was that, it was more an exchange of gifts day or 'buy me expensive gifts say' than anything else.

Do I sound unromantic? Of course I do. Well I am not too sure about the romantic aspect of love. Its been overdone everywhere but love in general excites me.

For love is love which does not change when change commands it to change. To me the most pure kind of love that I have seen is either between a person and his infant (when they  grow up sometimes it becomes difficult to love them all the time, love them nonetheless but there are those times when one would love to send them back to whoever possible for a few days , just an observation) or a person and his pet. Its easy to love infants because they symbolize innocence in the best way possible and for those who have pets or have had pets , they might just  recognize this emotion when I tell them that a pet remains an infant for their entire life with a kind of innocence that evokes nothing but love and this love does not change even years after they pass away. I dedicate this year's 'Valentine Post' to my friend Devyani who loves people (both four legged and two legged) effortlessly.

When it comes to expressing love,  if one must , I am quite old school and so a classic gift of a box of chocolate candies and roses are my love poison but anyway moving on to our Valentine recipe,  this recipe is how I expressed my love for my mother on her birthday. Its classic has a long history behind it and with a good recipe to follow  if this doesn't express one's love I don't know what will.

Imagine a slice of rich dark chocolaty cake coated with this unbelievably thick creamy silky chocolate layer and there is a layer of apricot jam to break the monotony of chocolate. Well its the famous torte from Vienna , which is so good that it has had a legal battle fought over it. Well the legal battle was fought for its rightful ownership and was later settled out of court so that you get both versions in Vienna. There is the 'Original Sacher Torte' available at Hotel Sacher and then there is Euduard Sacher torte sold at his patisserie.

I have followed the recipe given in  Larousse Gastronomique and the result is superb. The magic lies in that chocolate coat. The truth is that when the source of one's recipe is so reliable then the process of making a dish becomes much more easy.

Now, for the apricot preserve you may use a bottle bought from the store but I love making things from scratch and so I made a batch with dried apricot. If you plan to make it at home make it a day ahead.

Recipe for apricot preserve : Source  : Adapted from BBC Goodfood

350gm dried apricot (The turkish variety which has no seeds)
1 litre 50ml water to soak the apricots overnight
Juice from Half a lemon
400 to 500gm sugar

Soak the apricots overnight and in the morning they would have plumped up. Now bring everything with the water to a boil and reduce it to a sticky consistency. Takes about 15 minutes on medium heat and then add the juice from the lemon and sugar and bring to a boil , remove scum and boil on medium heat using a masher to mash the apricots and cook till it sets. Takes about 15 minutes to 20 minutes.

Now for the main cake. I have followed the recipe to a tee except for the amount of sugar in the icing which I reduced by 50gm from Larousse Gastronomique with perfect results so I would suggest that you do not tweak it except if you want to reduce the amount which is really not worth it.

Before we begin let me share a very important tip with you. This Torte heavily relies on chocolate and so the quality of chocolate plays a massive role in its taste . I would suggest that you use a premium brand of cooking chocolate which is at least 70% dark.

For the cakes :-

125gm sifted flour
200gm dark chocolate (70% dark) chopped into little pieces
150gm Vanilla castor sugar made at home by adding a bit of vanilla bean to castor sugar in an air tight container and leaving ti for 7 days.
125gm melted butter
10 egg whites
8 egg yolks
Drop of lemon juice
Two 7inch to 8 inch cake pan

Whisk the egg yolks to make it pale and fluffy consistency and add the castor sugar and whisk it to a ribbon like stage and add melted chocolate and whisk well and then add the melted butter and whisk again to create a smooth silky consistency and keep aside.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Prepare your pans by lining the pans with butter-paper.

Now whisk your egg whites to stiff peaks and add 1/3rd of the whipped egg whites to your egg yolk chocolate mixture and fold it as quickly as possible and then add a sprinkle of the sifted flour and folded in quickly and add the remaining whipped egg whites and fold it quickly and then keep sprinkling the flour and folding it in. Divide the batter in the 2 pans (8 inch pans)  and bake till a nice dome is created and a skewer comes out clean for about 25 minutes to 30 minutes.

Let the cakes cool down completely. Cut off the domes . Spread 175gm smooth apricot preserve on one cake and place the other disc of cake on top and let it set.

Now make your icing :-

150gm 70% dark chocolate
250ml heavy cream
150 gm castor sugar
1 whole egg
Pinch of Vanilla beans

Bring the cream and vanilla to a boil using the  bain marie aka double boiler method and add the chopped chocolate to create a smooth ganache . Whisk the egg in a seperate bowl and add 2 tbsp ganache and whisk well and put back the egg whisked ganache to the main pan of ganache andf whisk really well. let the mixture cool down and begin decorating your cake.

Put a coat on the cake and put it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes bring it out and put another thick coat and then set in the refrigerator for another 10 minutes and then lastly put the third coat making sure you use up all the chocolate ganache and let it set for a good 3 hours or more.

Now if you want to write Sacher on the cake which I think is optional just melt some chocolate and use a clean thin stick to dip it in the chocolate and write it.

Keep the cake out of the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.

Very Important tips :-

  1. If you do not have two pans of the same size just half the recipe and bake one cake at a time which is what I did. 
  2. Make sure that the big bowl in which you whip your egg white is completely clean without a trace of fat in it else it would not whip. So it must not get any trace of egg yolk. 
  3. You must keep it at room temperature for a good 30 minutes before serving else the cake will remain hard.

This is part of Kolkata Food Blogger's ongoing event for Valentine's Day :-