Hungarian Esterhazy torte is a rich dessert consisting of chocolate buttercream sandwiched between four layers of sponge cake. It is purportedly named after 19th-century Prince Esterhazy of Hungary, of a family close to Austrian royalty (and all their fabulous desserts!).
This is a traditional Old World recipe, so it will take some time, but the fondant icing is NOT the type that has to be kneaded, ripened for several hours and remelted.
- For the Sponge Cake:
- 5 large eggs (the yolks)
- 1 3/4 ounces sugar
- 1 3/4 ounces almonds (ground, not chopped)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons flour (all-purpose)
- 3 large eggs (the whites, stiffly beaten)
- 1/2 lemon (juice of, or 1 tablespoon vanilla)
- For the Chocolate Buttercream:
- 10 ounces chocolate (semisweet, chopped)
- 1 pound butter (softened, unsalted)
- 5 large eggs (the whites)
- 1 cup sugar
- For the Apricot Glaze:
- 1/4 cup apricot jam (melted mixed with 1 tablespoon hot water)
- For the Easy Fondant Icing:
- 3 cups sugar (confectioners')
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup (light)
- For the Garnish:
- 2 ounces chocolate (melted semisweet mixed with 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil)
- 4 ounces almonds (toasted or untoasted sliced)
For the sponge cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line four (8-inch) round baking pans with parchment circles. Alternatively, you can line one (8-inch) round pan with parchment, but you will have to split this cake into four layers.
Beat egg yolks with sugar until light and lemon colored. Sprinkle ground almonds and flour over batter and fold in gently. Fold in the egg whites and lemon juice or vanilla carefully so as not to deflate the batter.
Portion batter evenly into prepared pans. For four pans, bake about 10-15 minutes or until cakes pull away from sides of pan and underside is golden brown. For one pan, bake 30-40 minutes or until golden on the bottom. Cool in the pans.
Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Buttercream: Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave. Stir and set aside to cool. With a stand mixer or hand mixer, beat the butter with the paddle attachment on low for 2 minutes, medium for 3 minutes and high for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
Place egg whites and sugar in the top of a double boiler over medium heat. Whisk gently to 120 degrees on a candy thermometer. Transfer to a clean and dry mixer bowl and beat with the balloon whisk on high until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold melted chocolate into butter, then fold in egg whites.
To Assemble: On a serving platter, place one sponge cake layer and spread with 1/4 chocolate buttercream. Repeat 2 more times and top with the last sponge cake layer. Reserve the last 1/4 of buttercream for the sides. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour.
Prepare the Apricot Glaze: Strain the apricot mixture and brush entire top of cake with glaze and let dry for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the Fondant Icing: Place all fondant ingredients in a small saucepan and stir until well mixed. Set over low heat and stir until dissolved. Don't let the temperature exceed 100 degrees on a candy thermometer. If glaze doesn't look opaque enough, add more confectioners' sugar.
Place chocolate-oil mixture in a squeeze bottle and set aside. Pour warm fondant over torte, tilting so the entire top is covered. If some drips down the sides, that's OK because it will be covered with the reserved buttercream. If it looks too transparent, you will have to apply another coat, but wait until this one dries.
If the fondant is the way you like it, before it dries, take the squeeze bottle and draw 4 or 5 concentric circles on the top of the torte. Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, drag it lightly through the lines from the center of the torte to the edge 8 times to make a chevron pattern.
Frost the sides of the torte with the reserved frosting, pressing in the sliced almonds. Refrigerate until ready to serve. For easier slicing, cut the torte while it is cold but let it come to room temperature before serving. This is a very rich dessert, so small slices work best.