Sachertorte Cookies

If you were wondering what had happened to me, I do apologise. Last week was the real week from hell, where I had to juggle so many things I have no idea how I managed to make it until Sunday. And yes, for once Sunday was an actual day of rest, much to my partner’s surprise. Usually you would find me buzzing around the kitchen or the flat, or maybe pushing my partner out of bed to go somewhere. This time, I just wanted to chill out. This week looks like it might be slightly quieter, which is good as I can resume my gym duties. Last week was also the last time this year (I think) I was summoned at the University to mark some of the interpreting exams. A pleasure and an extremely interesting experience, as usual, it proved to be the perfect even to bring some of these wonderful cookies.

In case you’re not a big fan of cakes or you don’t feel confident enough to bake one, this recipe is perfect for you. You can get (more or less) the same flavour of a big Sachertorte in a tiny mouthful. This cookie has crunch, provided by the biscuit base, topped by a soft and gooey heart (the apricot jam), encased by a crisp and melt-in-the-mouth chocolate layer. One bite and you will be converted. The recipe comes from one of my many Italian baking books, called The Tastiest Biscuits in the World – a promise just from the name. You don’t have to go all bakery like me and try and make these of the same size or use a piping bag to distribute the jam. I believe homemade if the way to go, I just can’t help to use some of the tools I have in the kitchen!

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Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 250g unsalted butter, softened
  • 50g golden caster sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 160g apricot jam
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 30g unsalted butter, softened (for the glaze)

Method

  1. Line two to three baking trays with parchment, then set aside.
  2. Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a freestanding mixer, then beat with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then beat briefly until incorporated.
  3. Pour in the dry ingredients (flour, salt and cocoa powder), then mix briefly until the mixture comes together. It shouldn’t be either too sticky or too hard.
  4. Transfer the bowl onto your working surface, then use your hands to take walnut-sized amounts of the dough. Roll them between your hands to make them into a ball, then place them slightly apart onto the baking sheet and press your finger into the middle to make an indentation. If you suffer from a (completely made up and very) mild form of OCD like I do, you can use a measuring spoon to make the balls all equal. I used a 1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon.
  5. Put the trays in the fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 170C.
  6. Bake each batch for 15 minutes or until slightly hard to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  7. Transfer the apricot jam to a piping bag, then snip off the end. You can do this with a couple of teaspoons, but I would make a mess. Fill the indentation in each cookie with the jam, then set aside. You should have enough to fill them all.
  8. In the meantime, melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water, then set aside to cool slightly. The chocolate shouldn’t be too fluid or it will run away when drizzled. Once ready, use a tablespoon to drizzle some of the chocolate on the cookies. Make a criss-cross pattern if you want, but any way is fine. The aim is to encase the apricot jam in a layer of chocolate, so try and not to overdo it! Leave to cool and harden, then enjoy!

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Sachertorte Slices

First of all, these quantities make a huge cake. The idea here is to use a square cake ring to build the cake up, then leave it to set and cut it into slices. If you, like me, do not own such magical item, you can use a square loose-bottomed cake tin (which you’ll need to make the sponges anyway). Just make sure you cover the sides with clingfilm as it will make easier to remove the cake once set.

This a slightly boozier version of the traditional Sachertorte, with both the ganache and the sponge layers containing orange liqueur – needless to say, I used Cointreau. Also, you can leave it out and use orange juice or essence instead. This could be the perfect way of serving it up for any special occasions, as you can choose how big to make the slices and it moves a cake from being, well, a cake to being finger food. Genius!

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Ingredients (for the sponge layers)

  • 7 large eggs, separated
  • 180g unsalted butter, softened
  • 300g golden caster sugar
  • 180g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 180g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Ingredients (for the ganache)

  • 300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
  • 300ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau or orange essence/juice

Ingredients (for the soaking medium, assembling and decoration)

  • 50g caster sugar
  • 60ml water
  • 2 tbsp Cointreau
  • 250g apricot jam
  • chocolate sprinkles, drops, curls

Method

  1. Make the sponge layers first. Break up the dark chocolate, then tumble in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and slowly melt. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
  2. Line the bottom and butter the sides of a square loose-bottomed cake tin (mine is approximately 30x30cm), then pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  3. Using a freestanding mixer (or by hand), cream the butter with 150g sugar, then add the vanilla extract. Slowly start adding the egg yolks, one by one, beating well after each addition. Once finished, slowly add the chocolate mixture too, beating well to obtain a glossy and dark chocolate mixture.
  4. In another bowl, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks with the remaining sugar (30g) until you get a glossy meringue, then use a plastic spatula to incorporate to the chocolate mixture. Start with one third of the egg whites and use ample and slow movements to mix that into the chocolate mixture, then carefully add the rest being careful not to knock too much air out.
  5. Mix the flour and the salt, then sift over the mixture. Slowly mix that in too. Transfer the chocolate mixture into the prepared tin, level the surface and push the mixture into the sides. Bake for about 40 minutes.
  6. Once cooked, transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out of the cake tin and leave to cool completely.
  7. Now move on to the ganache. Finely grate or chop the dark chocolate, then set aside. In a small pan, bring the cream to the boil, then tumble in the chopped chocolate and leave to stand for about 5 minutes. Use a rubber spatula or a whisk to mix and smooth out any chocolate bits. Slowly pour in the liqueur, then cover with clingfilm and leave to cool and harden slightly.
  8. When the sponge layers have cooled down completely, you can start assembling the cake. Use a serrated knife to cut the cake into two even layers, then set those aside. In a small pan, melt the sugar with the water and boil for about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the orange liqueur.
  9. Transfer one of the sponge slices to the prepared cake tin (see introduction) or a square cake ring, then use a pastry brush to brush the cake layers with the soaking medium. This will ensure your cake is very moist and full of flavour.
  10. Top with most of the apricot jam and spread it to create an even layer, then top with the other sponge layer and soak that with the sugar and liqueur syrup too. Brush the top of the cake with the remaining apricot jam, then leave to set for about half an hour.
  11. Pour the chocolate ganache on top of the cake and use a spatula to smooth it out and spread it right until the corners. Transfer the cake to the fridge for an hour to set. Once set, sprinkle the top of the cake with the chocolate sprinkles and/or curls and/or drops. Be as artistic as you like. return the cake to the fridge for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
  12. When ready, carefully and slowly remove the cake from the cake tin, then use a very sharp knife to cut even slices. You can choose whether to have square or rectangular slices. Serve at once.

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Sachertorte

As I understand it, there are different versions of this cake, mostly due to its popularity and the several schools of thought there exists with regards to baking and desserts making. This is my version. Rather, it’s my interpretation of the cake my mum used to make when I was a kid. When clearly she couldn’t be bothered to go through the hassle of making it herself, we used to buy it from Lidl, which I have to admit sells a very good Sachertorte, although the chocolate on top is more of a hard and crispy shell. My cake, on the other hand, is a two tier chocolate paradise smothered in a glossy and deep ganache. Very easy to make, please ensure you beat the eggs and the butter thoroughly as this will ensure plenty of air is incorporated in the cake and result in ¬†better rise.

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Ingredients (for the cake)

  • 150g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 150g soft unsalted butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 150g flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • about 150g of apricot jam

Method (for the cake)

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Set aside and let it cool.
  2. Line and grease two 20cm diameter round loose-bottomed tins.
  3. Cream the butter with half of the sugar. Pour in the melted chocolate, then add the egg yolks one by one, beating well after each addition.
  4. In another bowl, whisk the 5 egg whites until they hold soft peaks, then add the remaining sugar and keep on whisking until fluffy and glossy.
  5. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan oven).
  6. Fold in the meringue into the chocolate mixture with a big metal spoon alternating it with some of the flour (combined with the baking powder). That is, add a spoonful of meringue, mix that into the batter, then add one spoonful of flour, mix that into the batter and so on until you have used both.
  7. Divide the mixture evenly between the two tins and bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes. Check with a skewer that the cake is cooked through before taking them out from the oven and allowing to cool on a racking.
  8. Once the two layers have cooled down, remove them from the tins and stack them. Use the jam to glue the two layers together.

Ingredients (for the ganache)

  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 100g double cream

Method (for the ganache)

  1. Break up the chocolate and put it in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Warm up the cream in a saucepan, then pour it onto the chocolate and let it stand for a few minutes.
  3. Mix well to melt all of the chocolate and let it cool.
  4. Pour on the cake and tilt the cake in order to let it spread on its own. Do not use a spatula or any other tools to spread the ganache as this will ruin the glossy finish.

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