Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hope you are all having a great day and have been showered with flowers, gifts, chocolates and most importantly, love and affection!
I am excited for today, not because of Valentine’s but because I have a birthday party to go to today for a very special, little boy who is turning one. Happy Birthday, Ismail! February 14th in my house is like any other day. My husband and I avoid dining out on this night and prefer to hang out at home with our children and enjoy a home cooked meal. Today, we will enjoy birthday cake and party hats!
In fact, the one and only time we went out to dinner, was at some fancy schmancy French restaurant, many years ago. However, the food was way sub par, especially considering what they expected us to pay for it. I remember clearly, it was a prix fixe at $70 a head. For the starter I chose a vegetable tart, and it came out very pretty looking but was burnt at the bottom. How do you burn a tart?? After that experience we started staying in.
Like I said, February 14th is like any other day at our house. What I mean is that at home, everyday is Valentine’s Day. Not in the sense of chocolates and gifts and such, but life. For me it’s the everyday things that are special; it’s the coffee my husband brings to me every morning because he knows how stiff I am in the mornings from my RA, it’s how he works 10 hour days and still comes home and loads or unloads the dishwasher and how he reaches over and holds my hand when we are driving. This is my everyday and I am so lucky.
My husband is a dessert lover and one cake we thoroughly enjoy is a Sachertorte. It’s not like we’ve been to Austria to try the authentic one, not yet, anyway, but we’ve had replicas and I’ve made it before. I love European cakes and tortes, and their desserts in general, having grown up eating them.
One of the cookbooks I was thrilled to receive is one by Rick Rodgers on Kaffeehaus desserts of Hungary and Austria. My dream is one day to visit the coffee houses he writes about and make my way through their extensive dessert menus. The book contains some excellent, authentic recipes for tortes and various other Austro-Hungarian desserts. He gives fascinating history and details about their origins and which restaurants stake claim to them.
European cakes are not as sweet as their American counterparts. However, they are rich and intensely flavoured and go perfectly with coffee. This is not the easiest of cakes to make but it’s not the hardest either and well worth the effort. This particular recipe is from Rick Rodger’s cookbook Kaffeehaus, slightly adapted.
Serving size: 12-16 servings
- 41/2oz/128g high quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used chips)
- 9 tablespoons/127g unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 cup/115g powdered sugar
- 6 large eggs, separated, at room temp
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup/119g granulated sugar
- 1 cup/128g plain/all purpose flour (spoon and level)
- 11/4 cups/296mL apricot preserves
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup/235g sugar
- ½cup/118mL water
- 6 oz113g bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used chips)
- Bring the preserves and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often.
- Cook stirring often till sticky, about 2 or 3 minutes.
- Strain through a wire sieve into a bowl and keep aside.
- Use warm.
- Position rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 400℉/200℃
- Lightly grease with non stick spray a 9"/24cm springform/loose bottom pan.
- Line the bottom with parchment paper.
- Dust the sides of the pan lightly with flour and tap out excess.
- Melt chocolate in the microwave in a bowl at 30 second intervals. Will take about a minute or so.
- Stir after each 30 seconds and let the warm bowl help in melting the remainder.
- Stir till all melted and leave to cool.
- Beat butter in bowl of mixer using a paddle attachment on medium high till smooth, about a minute.
- On low speed, add in the powdered sugar.
- Return to medium high speed and beat till light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add one egg yolk at a time, beating well after each one.
- Scrape down sides of bowl and ensure batter is well mixed.
- Beat in the chocolate and vanilla.
- In a different mixer bowl or using a handheld mixer
- Beat the egg whites and granulated sugar until soft, shiny peaks form.
- Don't over beat.
- Stir about one fourth of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it and fold in the rest gently.
- Little wisps of white are fine, don't over mix.
- Sift half of the flour over and fold in and then repeat with the remaining flour.
- Spread evenly in pan.
- Bake until a toothpick instead in the centre comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
- The cake will dome in the centre.
- Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Remove the sides of the pan and invert cake onto rack and then right side up.
- Cool completely.
- Using a long serrated knife, trim the top of the cake to make it level.
- Cut the cake horizontally in two equal layers.
- An 8" cake board will really help with transferring cake after glazes have been applied.
- Brush top layer of the cake with the apricot glaze and then place the top layer and glaze all-around.
- This cake will have holes. If some are really big, just take some trimmings from the cake top and fill the holes with some glaze, like a paste, and patch up the holes.
- Let the glaze set on the cake.
- Make sure the cake is on a wire rack.
- Must be freshly made in a small pan. Too big and it will burn before it gets a chance to thicken.
- Put the chocolate, water and sugar in a small pan over medium high heat and boil.
- Attach a candy thermometer to the pan.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring until the mixture reaches 234℉, about 5 minutes.
- DO NOT overcook. It will turn to candy and be a hard shell instead of a glaze.
- Pour the warm glaze over the cake and let drizzle down side.
- Use a spatula to coat the cake completely.
- Cool until glaze is barely set, transfer to serving plate and then refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Remove cake an hour before serving.
- To serve, slice with a sharp knife dipped in hot water.
- Serve with whipped cream.
Wishing you a wonderful, sweet, romantic Valentine’s Day!