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A Viennese Konditorei Party for Chocolate Lovers

by Lou Seibert Pappas

Indulging in elegant chocolate-flavored desserts has great party appeal on rare occasions, perhaps a bridal shower, an anniversary celebration, or just for fun. This quintet of pastries offers many options. Plan on at least a selection of three to serve a dozen guests. That way they may sample one or all. Offer freshly brewed decaf and regular coffee with toppings of cinnamon, cocoa, raw sugar, and whipped cream, and a sidebar of liqueurs, if you wish.

Make the cakes a day or two in advance, or freeze some of the cake layers in advance and frost later. Or to simplify the preparations ask two of the guests to each bring a cake.

To serve, set out the pastries buffet style and slice thinly so guests are free to sample each kind. Set up a coffee and liqueur bar alongside.

Chocolate Grand Marnier Torte
makes 16 servings

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 cups finely ground almonds
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 pound (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
6 eggs, separated
2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Chocolate Cream: follows

Preheat the oven to 350F. In the top part of a double boiler melt chocolate over hot water and let cool to room temperature. Mix nuts with flour. In a large mixing bowl beat butter and 3/4 cup sugar until creamy and beat in egg yolks. Mash orange zest with 1/2 teaspoon sugar to bring out its oils. Stir into the yolk mixture melted chocolate, half the nut-flour mixture, orange zest, and Grand Marnier. Beat the egg whites until foamy, add salt and cream of tartar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold one-third of the whites into the chocolate-yolk mixture to lighten it, then gently fold this into the remaining whites along with the remaining nut-flour mixture. Pour into a buttered and floured 9-inch spring-form pan.

Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then remove from pan. Let cool completely, then spoon poufs of Chocolate Cream on top of the cake and serve remaining cream in a bowl alongside.

Chocolate Cream: Whip 1 cup heavy cream until stiff and mix in 2 tablespoons sweetened chocolate powder, 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, and 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier.

Chocolate-Glazed Raspberry Torte
makes 16 servings

1 can (8 oz.) almond paste
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup raspberry jelly
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons sliced almonds

Place the almond paste in a mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat after each addition until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon juice and zest. Beat the egg whites until foamy, add the salt and cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form; add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold one-third of the egg whites into yolk mixture to lighten it, then gently fold this into the remaining whites. Stir together the flour and baking powder, sprinkle over the egg mixture, and gently fold in.

Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms of pans with waxed paper or parchment, then butter and flour the paper. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Preheat the oven to 350F. Bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then remove from pans and cool on racks.

To assemble, place 1 layer on a serving platter. Heat raspberry jelly until melted and spread it over the layer; top with remaining layer. In the top of a double boiler, combine the chocolate and butter and melt over hot water; stir to blend. With a spatula spread the chocolate mixture on the top and sides of the cake. Sprinkle the almonds around the outer edge of the top. Chill to set.

Chocolate-Sheathed Rum Prailine Cake
makes 12 servings

Two 9-inch sponge cake layers: follows
Rum Syrup: follows
Chocolate Butter Cream: follows
Praline: follows
1 cup whipping cream

Prepare the Sponge Cake layers. Spoon over the Rum Syrup and let cool. Prepare the Chocolate Butter Cream and Praline. Whip cream until stiff and fold in half the Praline. Spread one cake layer with half the whipped cream mixture. Top with a second layer and spread with remaining whipped cream mixture. Frost the sides of the cake with Chocolate Butter Cream and sprinkle with the remaining Praline.

Sponge Cake: Preheat the oven to 350F. Separate 6 eggs. Beat the egg whites until foamy, add 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. In a bowl, beat the 6 egg yolks and 1 tablespoon lemon juice until thick and lemon-colored, then gradually beat in 3/4 cup sugar. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then gently fold this into the remaining whites. Fold in 1 cup all-purpose flour, one-third at a time, folding each part gently. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with waxed paper or parchment, and then butter and flour the paper. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown and the tops spring back when touched. Let cool on a wire racks, then turn out of pans.

Chocolate Butter Cream: In the top part of a double boiler, melt 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate over hot water; let cool. In a bowl, beat 4 tablespoons soft butter, at room temperature, until creamy, and mix in 1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir in the melted chocolate and blend well.

Rum Syrup: Heat 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in 3 tablespoons rum.

Praline: Heat 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Add 1/2 cup chopped almonds or hazelnuts and shake the pan to coat the nuts with syrup; Turn out of the pan onto a sheet of buttered foil. Let cool. Pulverize in a blender. Store in a jar tightly covered if made in advance.

Chocolate-Topped Custard Cake
makes 12 servings

2 9-inch layers yellow cake (a favorite butter cake or made from a mix)
Custard Filling:
2 cups milk
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon rum
Chocolate Frosting:
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 square unsweetened chocolate
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Bake the cake layers and let cool. For the Custard Filling, mix part of the milk with the cornstarch; scald remaining milk with sugar and salt. Blend in the cornstarch paste and cook until thickened. Whisk the egg yolks and whisk in part of the milk mixture, then return to the pan and cook until thick. Stir in vanilla and rum. Let cool, then spread between cake layers.

Prepare the Chocolate Frosting: Combine the sugar, cornstarch, chocolate, and butter in a pan and stir in hot water; heat until blended, stirring. Stir in vanilla. Spread over the top of the cake only, not the sides.

Sacher Torte
makes 12 servings

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 eggs, separated
7/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup apricot jam
Chocolate Topping: follows
Whipped cream: optional

Preheat the oven to 300F. In a large bowl, beat the butter until creamy, then beat in the sugar. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, add the salt and cream of tartar, and beat until stiff. Fold one-third of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold this into the remaining whites. Spread the batter in a greased and floured 9-inch spring-form pan. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then remove sides and bottom of the pan and invert cake onto a rack. Let stand until completely cooled, then place bottom side up on a serving plate. Heat jam and press through a strainer. Brush the top of the cake with apricot glaze. Let stand until cool. Then frost sides and top with warm Chocolate Topping. Serve with whipped cream.

Chocolate Topping: In the top of a double boiler, heat together 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 1/4 cup light corn syrup, and 1 tablespoon coffee. Stir until blended. Let cool slightly.

Lou Seibert Pappas is a former food editor of the Palo Alto Times Tribune and a home economist with Sunset Magazine. She currently writes food, home, and travel-related articles for national magazines and newspapers and is the author of more than 30 books.



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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