Royal Chocolate Torte

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/4 c milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1 pk Instant chocolate pudding mix,
3/4 c Flour
1 tbsp Light rum
6 Strawberries
6 Eggs ; separated
Sugar
1 tsp Almond extract
1 6 oz pkg semisweet chocolate pieces
1/4 tsp Salt
1/3 c Cocoa
1 1/2 c Heavy whipping cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 10″ springform pan; set aside. In large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Beating at high speed, gradually sprinkle in 1/4 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition until sugar is completely dissolved. Whites should stand in stiff glossy peaks. In small bowl with mixer at medium speed, beat egg yolks, vanilla and 3/4 cup sugar until thick and lemon colored. At low speed, beat in flour and cocoa. With rubber spatula or wire whisk, gently fold egg yolk mixture into egg whites. Pour into prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake 35-40 minutes until top of cake springs back when lightly touched with finger. Remove pan to wire rack. Cool cake completely on rack.
In small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat pudding, milk, almond extract and 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Remove cake from cake pan bottom; with serrated knife, cut cake horizontally into 3 even layers. Place 1 cake layer on cake platter; spread with half of pudding mixture; arrange second layer on top; spread with remaining pudding mixture; top with remaining cake layer. Refrigerate.
In double boiler over hot, not boiling, water, heat rum and 1/2 cup chocolate pieces until chocolate is melted and mixture smooth. In small bowl, with mixer at medium high speed, beat 1/2 cup heavy cream and chocolate mixture until thick, about 15 minutes; use to frost side and top of torte. Refrigerate
WEDGES: In double boiler over hot, not boiling, water, heat remaining 1/2 cup chocolate chips with 2 Tbsp shortening until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread chocolate mixture evenly on waxed paper lined springform pan bottom. Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes. Carefully remove chocolate disk from pan bottom; with cool hands, carefully peel waxed paper from chocolate disk. Heat blade of a long, sharp knife in hot water; wipe it dry and cut chocolate into 12 wedges. Cut torte into 12 wedges. Cut each strawberry in half. On center of each wedge, arrange a strawberry half, cut side down; then lean a chocolate wedge on strawberry.

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