With lots of chocolate and lots of complementary flavours, this is a rich and tasty torte.
Serves: 10 – 12
Times: Prep 25 min; bake 30 – 35 min + cooling; Filling 5 min + fridge time; ganache 10 min + fridge time if needed. Chocolate collar 20 – 30 mins depending how many colours.
Level: Requires some care
Equipment: 2 x 20cm/8” round, loose bottomed tins
For the torte
- 225g dark chocolate
- 225g unsalted butter, softened
- 275g caster sugar
- 5 eggs, separated
- 120g ground almonds
- 50g flaked almonds
- 50g white breadcrumbs
- 60g glace cherries – washed, rinsed, cut into quarters and floured
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp almond extract
For the filling
- 60g butter, softened
- 60g full fat cream cheese (e.g. Philadelphia)
- 240g icing sugar
- 1 tsp cherry flavouring (optional)
- pink food colouring (also optional)
For the ganache
- 160g chocolate (dark or milk or a mixture)
- 80g unsalted butter
For the chocolate collar (if required)
- About 50g – 60g white chocolate, depending how many colours you want
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and base line the tins.
2. Melt the chocolate, either in a bain marie or micro-wave. Set aside once melted.
3. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add in the egg yolks one at a time, beating well each time. Beat in the chocolate then stir in the ground almonds, flaked almonds, breadcrumbs, cherries, baking powder and almond extract.
4. Whisk the egg whites in a large, clean glass or metal bowl until soft peaks form. Stir a large spoonful into the main mixture to loosen it then fold in the rest with a large metal spoon. Divide the mixture equally between the two prepared tins and level the surfaces.
5. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes, checking at 30. Use a skewer inserted in the middle. If it comes out clean the tortes are ready. Remove from the oven and leave in the tins for 5 – 10 minutes then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool fully. (NB the tortes are quite fragile until set, so handle with care)
6. To make the filling, beat the butter and cream cheese together until softened. Sift over the icing sugar and stir in gently at first. Add about 10ml of hot water and the cherry extract and food colour, if using, then beat well.
7. To assemble the tortes, pipe or spoon the filling onto one and add the other carefully. Place in fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up.
8. To make the ganache, melt the chocolate and butter together either in a bain marie or in the micro-wave. Stir well then remove from the heat and allow it to cool a little. Spread the ganache over the top and sides of the cake. You could use a palette knife, but I’ve recently begun using a flexible rubber brush, which works quite well. Again, place in the fridge for a while. Or, if you need to serve it, just add any chosen decoration and go for it.
9. If you decide to make a chocolate collar, here’s one way to do it. First measure the height of the cake and cut a strip of baking parchment that is slightly wider than the cake’s height. It also needs to be long enough to go round the cake plus about ¾ inch (15cm) extra.
10. Tape the strip onto a flat surface. Set out several small microwave safe bowls, depending on how many colours you want. Also arrange your colours ready. (I like the Colour Splash range) Use short blasts in the microwave to melt about three small chunks of white chocolate, stirring well between blasts. Then stir in the colour and with a spoon flick the melted chocolate over the strip, using quick confident movements. Repeat with any other colours that you fancy.
11. Leave the strip until the chocolate has gone matte but is not fully set. Gently place the strip over the cake and onto its sides. Gently massage it onto the cake. If necessary pin the ends until it sets, then remove the pins. Place the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes before peeling off the baking parchment.