On a whirlwind trip through 9 European cities in 2 and a half weeks, I spent a glorious 3 days in the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria. Being the chocolate addict that I am, naturally I took the time to hunt down the original Sachertorte from the Sacher Hotel in the heart of the city.
So what is the Sachertorte, you ask? Nothing short of an inspired work of confectionery genius that combines rich dark chocolate cake and thick chocolate glaze with a tart layer of fruity apricot jelly. (Speaking of which, chocolate + apricot = probably the most underrated flavor combination to ever be relegated to novelty truffles at gourmet chocolatiers. I’m just saying.) According to Wikipedia, the torte was invented by a 16-year-old apprentice chef (talk about genius) named Franz Sacher for the honored guests of Prince Wenzel von Metternich in 1832.
And if it tasted anything like the slice that I was served on that sunny day in Vienna, it was magical.
(Actually, the sudden inclination for the sky to unceremoniously dump buckets of rain on the measly awning covering the outdoor seating of the cafe halfway through my third bite was probably the real act of witchcraft, but the cake was still pretty great.)
Naturally, after arriving back to our side of the pond, my first order of business (after recovering from a nasty bout of jetlag and getting very well acquainted with 5:00 am and the curious phenomenon of being awake enough to appreciate the sunrise) was to recreate the world’s best chocolate cake in my decidedly not-so-Austrian kitchen. And honestly, the trickiness of aesthetically pleasing chocolate glaze aside (as I learned afterward, continually wash any crystals off of the sides and melt in the chocolate chips immediately), the taste and texture of the original are surprisingly easy to recreate.
So if you, like me, live thousands of miles away from the world’s best slice of chocolate cake, pick up a jar of apricot preserves from the closest grocery shop and hop to it! It may not come served on an embossed plate by a gentleman in a jaunty bow tie, but I can guarantee that it will be the answer to all of your chocolate craving-induced dream. Hope you enjoy!
Makes one miniature 6″ torte
Recipe scaled down from Ichkoche.at
5 tbs unsalted butter, softened
50 g (2/3 cup) powdered sugar
3 large eggs, separated to yolks and whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chocolate chips
50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
70 g (2/3 cup) cake flour, sifted
1/4 cup water
100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1/3 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup apricot preserves
Unsweetened whipped cream (I whipped about 3/4 cup heavy cream for 8 servings!)
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease two 6″ cake pans with butter, then sprinkle on a layer of flour, tapping the sides to distribute, then shaking off the excess.
- In a stand mixer or in a bowl with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
- Beat in the egg yolks and vanilla extract until well incorporated.
Tip: For a smoother batter and better mixing, allow the eggs to come to room temperature before separating and incorporating.
- Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring well in between each interval. When the chocolate is just cool enough to touch, drizzle it into the egg yolk mixture, whisking continuously until well incorporated.
- In a fresh bowl using an electric mixer or a stand mixer, whip the egg whites and granulated sugar to stiff peaks. At this point, when you lift the beaters out, the egg white should form sharp peaks that do not bend over.
- Fold in about 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture until well incorporated, then add the mixture along with the flour back into the remaining 2/3 of the egg whites, folding until just incorporated.
- Divide the batter among the two cake pans. Bake for 12-16 minutes, or until the center of the cake feels springy when you gently depress the surface with your finger. Remove the cake from the pans and allow to cool completely.
Assembly, part 1:
- Warm the apricot preserves in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, then strain the warmed mixture through a fine mesh sieve.
- Cover one of the cakes with a thin layer of strained apricot preserves, then carefully place the second cake layer on top.
- Cover the top and sides of the stacked layers with the remaining strained preserves, then carefully set the stack onto a cooling rack set on top of a baking sheet for glazing.
- In a small saucepan, dissolve the sugar into the water over medium heat, then bring the mixture to a boil, allowing it to simmer until the temperature reaches 234 ºF.
Tip: To prevent crystallization, continuously brush the sides of the saucepan with plenty of water, allowing the liquid to drip down the edges of the pan and dissolve any sugar that crystallizes along the sides.
- Lower the heat to low and add in the chocolate chips, stirring until dissolved. Adjust the thickness of the glaze, thickening with chocolate and thinning with water, until it reaches the consistency of maple syrup.
Assembly, part 2:
- Immediately poor the glaze on top of the stacked cake layers, allowing the excess to pour off of the sides.
- When the cooling rack stops dripping, collect the excess glaze back into the saucepan.
- Reheat the glaze, adding a small amount of water as needed to return the mixture to a slightly-thinner-than-maple-syrup texture. Strain the glaze through a fine-mesh sieve.
- When the glaze is cool enough to handle, transfer the mixture into a piping bag or sandwich bag. Snip off a tiny corner of the piping bag, then use the glaze to write “Sacher” across the top of the glazed torte.
- When the torte is completely cooled and the outer glaze is hard to the touch, use a large metal offset spatula dipped in hot water to gently pry the torte off of the cooling rack and onto a serving plate.
- If desired, chill the entire torte in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Plate each slice with a swirl of unsweetened whipped cream (I used the Wilton 2D!), and serve immediately. Enjoy!