I realize that this month's theme is Sweet Seduction (in keeping with Valentines), but this post is going to be more along the lines of delicious sentimentality.
Ever since I was a little kid, I can remember my mom making this torte, usually for my dad's birthday. And I remember helping her and watching her, making all those crunchy layers and chocolate filling, thinking that my mommy must be the best cook in the world, because as a kid this torte looked so complicated to make. This is my first time to actually make the torte on my own, and it's pretty simple really, a slight bit time consuming, requires a delicate hand, but I still think my mommy is the best cook in the world.
I made this torte for my boyfriend in a sort-of post-valentine dinner date. He loved it.
There is a few tricky things that I should mention when making this cake. If you happen to forget to butter and flour the bottoms of the pans (as I just happened to do), it's OK, don't panic. However, this means you have to gently pry the edges of the layers from the pan right after you take it out of the oven while still hot & soft, otherwise it will harden to the pan and be very difficult to get off the pan when cool. Another thing, if you do at some point make a hole or crack in your layer, you can still use it, just don't make it the bottom layer or the top layer. Use the cracked layer somewhere in the middle. So here is my mother's Czech Torte with a few modifications of my own.
For the crunchy layers:
Sift in a large bowl:
2 cups flour
½ tsp salt
Then cut in:
½ cup butter
½ cup sugar
1 tbl honey mixed with 1 tbl water
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350° F.Turn the dough onto a floured board and knead for a minute or two to combine all the dough together. Divide dough into 6 equal sized balls. Grease and flour the upside down bottoms of 9" or 8" cake pans. (I have three 9" cake pans, and I can fit them all into my oven so I cooked three layers at a time in two shifts, you could do two pans in three shifts). Take a dough ball and roll it out onto the bottom of the cake pan. (The layers will be thin, so watch out for holes and cracks, you can mush them out with your fingers.) Bake layers for 7 to 10 minutes, keep an eye on them as you don't want them to burn, they cook up fast. When they are nice and golden brown on the edges, remove them from the oven, let them sit for a minute, then pry up the edges and slide them onto a cookie rack. Cool completely.
For the chocolate filling:
Heat and stir until dissolved in a heavy sauce pan:
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
In a bowl beat until thick:
5 egg yolks
2 tsp cornstarch
small pinch of salt
dash of vanilla
Stir the egg yolk mixture into the the chocolate mixture and continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened, simmer for a minute or two. Take off of heat, and let cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. When it is cool, pour into a mixing bowl and beat in:
1 cup unsalted butter
Beat until it's well mixed.
Place one layer on a plate and spread it with some of the chocolate filling. Top it with a second layer and more chocolate filling, continue this till you have used up the layers and end with the chocolate filling on top.
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, whole (or more if necessary)
Decorate with the whole hazelnuts along the perimeter of the cake, and the chopped hazelnuts sprinkled over the top of the cake.
Refrigerate overnight to allow to crunchy layers to soften up a little. Be sure to take the cake out of the refrigerator a couple of hours before you serve (like before your guests come over for dinner), otherwise the cake will be very, very, very hard to cut (and your date/guests will not be impressed with your cake serving skills, haha)