Monday, June 6, 2011

Dangerous Truffle Torte

Today's recipe comes not without its fair share of kitchen angst and desperation. I call it dangerous not only because its decadence is intense and could easily result in bellyache for the undisciplined (it is spectacularly tasty, though, so I'd understand completely if this happened), but also because a small disregard for directions can result in a bit of a disaster.

I don't really like to do anything by halves - I tend to plunge into things headfirst, so when making a recipe for the first time I'm not always as careful as I should be. I tend towards things that aren't too fussy most of the time, but this didn't seem to be in the fernickety category. It is actually pretty easy, and the only problematic bit was the chocolate melting step.

The recipe called for the chocolate to be melted together with liquid glucose and rum. Now, I am definitely a fidgeter, and will fiddle with anything that's to hand (I am trying to train myself not to doodle in work meetings, though I did spy a 50-something male colleague drawing tanks and planes in his margins this week so perhaps it's not such an issue?), and melting chocolate just cries out to be stirred. Not in this recipe! Leave it alone or you may end up with the dark, depressing lumps of chocolatey rock I did - about $20 worth of nice 70% Lindt destroyed.  

No amount of beating would redeem this mess!

Rather typically, the first batch not only put me out of chocolate but also used up the last of our rum, so I pleaded with Mr Cake to go on a mercy mission while I cleaned the meteoritic bits of chocolate out of the bowl.  

Second time round I was a bit on edge while the chocolate was melting but it turned out perfectly - it really is very simple. Line a cake/tart tin, grease liberally with butter, sprinkle with crumbs. The chocolate, glucose and rum go in a double boiler and are left alone (please learn from my mistake!) until the chocolate is melted - probably 20-25 minutes, which is an extraordinarily long time when you're anxious you might be sentencing another 450g of chocolate to its death (incidentally, the replacement chocolate is DGF Royal, a French brand stocked at Moore Wilson, which is high quality but significantly cheaper than Lindt - we got a 2kg box for $44, which sounds like a lot of money but is pretty good value for the good stuff). I waited until the chocolate at the edges was clearly completely melted (all glossy and beginning to run) and the stuff in the middle (which was swamped with liquid and stayed quite cool to the touch) looked like it was beginning to give.

The moment of truth - when I approached the bowl with my wooden spoon - and it started off looking very similar to round one, but very quickly became smooth and glossy. 

The base is simply biscuit crumbs - the recipe recommends amaretti biscuits, which I recommend as the almond flavour complements the dark chocolate very well, but if you prefer you could easily switch these for something else. 

Once the chocolate stuff has cooled a bit you fold through some cream - this really is pretty easy - in two stages...

... and then pour it onto the base.

(much as I love the pretty pour-from-afar effect it's actually smarter to pour from just above the base if you don't want the crumbs displaced)

Then it just goes into the fridge to firm up - the recipe said overnight, but I was hoping 6 hours or so would be enough, and then the prep was delayed a fair bit by the chocolate fiasco, so it was probably only about four hours - but it was well set when we ate it.

This is a stunner of a recipe - really quite simple to make (just don't stir that melting chocolate - did I make my point on that?) and now that I know the secret I'll be making it again. It's a very dense, truffley torte - true to its name - and the base is great. We all really enjoyed the crumbs - there's no binder in the "crust" so unlike your average cheesecake the base wasn't making it yet richer, but still provided that nice crumbly texture. If you wanted to be all cheffy you could just serve the crumbs on the plate as a separate element - you know the way "cheesecake" in fancy restaurants sometimes comes?

The rum wasn't a strong element - the flavour was barely detectable through the dark chocolate - so you could easily switch it out for another liqueur if you prefer - perhaps amaretto to build on the almond flavour. 

We served it with some nice vanilla ice-cream, and it's so rich that you probably do want something simple like that on the side - thick unsweetened yoghurt would also work well, and/or some fresh berries - the classic chocolate mitigators. ;-)

I still have the chocolate meteorite on my bench, though - I wonder if it's usable for anything. The fat has separated out so I guess I effectively have a bunch of cocoa butter, and a big lump of cocoa solids. Anyone have any ideas?

Have you had any major kitchen failures? Did you manage to figure out what went wrong and fix them up or was it a lost cause?

Truffle Torte (from Taste Magazine/Desserts by James Martin)
butter, for greasing
110g amaretti biscuits
450g dark chocolate (70-75% cocoa solids), in small pieces
4 Tbsp liquid glucose (available from the baking aisle of the supermarket or cake decorating stores)
4 Tbsp rum
650ml cream
cocoa butter, to serve

Line a 23cm cake or tart tin with greased baking paper (I find it easier to grease the paper flat then place in the tin). Crush the biscuits and spread the crumbs evenly over the base of the tin.

Place the chocolate, liquid glucose and rum in a bowl over a saucepan of just-simmering water (ensure the bowl doesn't touch the water), and leave it to melt for 20-25 minutes - do not stir! When the chocolate appears melted and smooth, stir to combine, then remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Beat the cream until very lightly whipped - until it just barely holds its shape. Fold half of the cream into the chocolate mixture, then fold the chocolate mixture through the remaining cream until smoothly combined. Pour into the tin and tap the tin to smooth the mixture. Cover and chill for four hours or overnight.

Dust with cocoa powder and serve with ice-cream, yoghurt or berries.


  1. OMG that looks so good! The amaretti with the chocolate sounds amazing. And yes I have done that with chocolate too...almost heartbreaking to wast such good chocolate!

  2. My arteries say 'no!', but my stomach says 'gimme'! That looks delicious :)

  3. stick it in a self sausing chocolate pudding... thats what i do when i dothat to chocolate.... and i do it far too often :)

  4. Hee, "fernickety" - I say "pernickety" but I think I like your version better. Can you just eat the chocolate meteor or does it taste funny now? If it's edible, i guess you could bash it up and stir it through ice cream or into cookie dough.

    The finished product looks gorgeous though! I once forgot to turn the oven down as per a pavlova recipe's instruction...ended up with a great big charcoal lump. Not quite as pricey as lindt, but all those eggwhites, plus all the agony of separating them and whipping them up - I was not impressed with myself I can tell you ;)

  5. could you melt it down with cream and make truffles (try it with a little bit first). Otherwise I would use chunks of it in cookies and cakes.

  6. That looks delicious! I think Rose has the right idea for your sad chocolate. I often have trouble with a sour cream and chocolate icing I make (sounds odd but is the best icing I have ever made and people love it). If you don't get the temp of the chocolate and the sour cream within a few degrees the chocolate shocks itself into hard bits in a sea of sour cream.....sometimes I end up whizzing it in the food processor which doesn't seem to harm it.

  7. Mairi, the realisation it wasn't going to come back together was a bit sickenening. Learning the hard way!

    Nigel, chocolate is a vegetable, it's all good. ;-) It is so seriously decadent you can't eat much at a time anyway, so it can't be TOO bad!

    Liz, nice idea - broken up into little pieces and mixed through, you mean?

    Laura, it tastes okay, just a bit bitter (I do enjoy the fat component of chocolate, can't get used to it without). Your ideas are great, actually - both with enough sweetness and cream/butter to carry the meteor. :-)

    Rose, I like the idea but it wasn't very compliant warm, not sure if it would work. Might give it a go, though, going to think on it a bit longer (I don't think meteors decay...).

    Jacqui, it was delicious, just polished the last of it off. ;-) I might have to beg you for your chocolate sour cream icing recipe - I have tried one on someone's recommendation but it didn't work out that well, keen to have another go!

  8. I had dark chocolate seize on me a while ago and kept the lumps. They grate up beautifully for anything you need a powdered chocolate decoration on. (I dare say you could use them for hot chocolate drinks as well, though I haven't tried it.)
    If you look at Anne Else's "Something Else to Eat" blog and see the trifle made for the royal wedding in April, that's my grated seized chocolate on top. A little wonky, because I had had a glass of champers before I did it.

  9. Hmm, not sure if it actually counts as a recipe as it only has two ingredients!

    Depending on how much icing you want melt about 200gm of milk chocolate (I use the Whitakers fair trade block). Take your sour cream (about 200gms also) out of the fridge e-a-r-l-y ( I usually forget which may have something to do with my problems getting this to work). When the chocolate is melted leave it to cool. The goal is to have the two ingredients at similar temps. Reality is somewhat different.....dollop the sour cream into the chocolate and mix (usually smaller amounts of sour cream work better to start with. I experiment with the proportions and, like I said, if your sour cream is too cold or your chocolate to warm you can have problems. I usually go at it with an eggbeater. And to be honest it tastes pretty good with solid chunks of chocolate in it too! It's an Amanda Hessler (she was a NY Times food critic) recipe. Good luck!

  10. Thanks Jacqui, I'll give it a whirl sometime soon!

  11. I'm with Nigel - am torn between Nooo! and Oh yes! Oh yes! Oh yes! Gorgeous. I think yes will win...

  12. As it rightly should. ;-) Who could resist?


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