I realized as I was starting to write down the recipe for this post that it was actually my 550th post. Wow…That made me a little proud and left me slightly amazed at the same time! I think I even said "oh la vache!" (holy cow!). That’s a whole lot of stories, words, laughs, tears and just as much sugar, butter, flour and eggs! What could be more fitting to celebrate post #550 than a Daring Bakers Challenge? A very sweet and very rich one: a Dobos Torte.
I wrote last time that I hadn’t had an ounce of craving for chocolate lately and when I set out to make this challenge, things turned out just about the same. I looked at the recipe and could not chase the images of sweet sugared berries floating in my head. Or was it sugar made saber equipped raspberries fighting off little chocolate critters? Hmmmm…Still, not an ounce of chocolate was calling my name yet. Too hot, too humid and a fridge full of raspberries thanks to my mother – in – law who always buys for 8 when there are just the 2 of them.
A Dobos Torte is traditionally a rich layer sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel pieces. I respected all the components of the challenge while changing things around a bit for a few reasons: the season, the plentitude of raspberries and mascarpone I had (mother – in – law again) and the weather.
I baked the sponge layers in a sheet pan, cut out disks in the cake to form several 3-inch cakes in dessert rings. I layered the disks with a super light (but rich) mascarpone mousse and fresh raspberries. For the buttercream, I kept a similar method as the one given by the hostesses and made vanilla bean Swiss meringue buttercream where the egg whites are heated on the stove prior to being whipped. On a side note, the specks you notice on the cakes are neither caused by a problem with your vision or your computer screen. It’s not dirt either as my 5 year-old neighbor thought earlier. It’s the pure goodness of a vanilla bean.
I thought about that caramel topping long and hard and knew it was just not going to happen as it was written given our heat and humidity. I made pulled sugar ribbons because I could make just what I needed for the cake before they’d disintegrate in sugar puddles. Going back on previous posts, I realized there had been bubble caramel, caramel circles, caramel strands, caramel corkscrews, caramel window panes, caramel plates but never good old pulled sugar. Ah! No more! Here it is!
Before you say you will never ever do it because it’s caramel-and-oh-my-god-it’s-just-too-hard-because-it’s-caramel let me tell you why you could make it tomorrow and neither glue your entire kitchen nor burn all your pots and pans trying to get it to "the proper shade of amber". First, there is a high enough ratio of water to sugar for the liquid not to turn to caramel before you reach the desired temperature for pulled sugar. Then, your mission is NOT to let it turn color. You boil, add coloring or not, take it to a certain temperature, pour it off, let it cool a bit and start playing.
See? One more cool pastry thing to try one quiet evening. Do not fear the sugar!
We loved this version and I have already bookmarked the original one given by our hostesses to make this Fall and Winter. Thank you ladies for hosting and to Lisa and Ivonne for being such incredible Daring Bakers Founders! There are plenty more Dobos Torte to be seen from around the globe here.
The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful
of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos
Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite
Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
One year ago: Chocolate Eclairs with the Daring Bakers
Raspberry And Vanilla Dobos Torte:
Makes eight 3 – inch cakes
For the sponge cake layers
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner’s (icing) sugar, divided
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour
pinch of salt
For the mascarpone mousse:
For the mousse:
3 egg yolks
1/2 tablespoon powdered gelatin
1/2 cup (125ml) honey
3 oz (90gr) mascarpone, at room temperature
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
For the buttercream:
1 cup (200gr) sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (340gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Prepare the cake layers:
Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C). Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Set aside.
Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner’s (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don’t have a mixer). In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner’s (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour. Pour the batter into the prepared half sheet pan and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until slightly brown.
Prepare the mousse:
Whisk the egg yolks to break them up in the bowl of stand mixer (or with hand held beaters).
Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 Tb of cold water in a small cup and let it bloom.
In a heavy saucepan set over medium high heat, bring the honey to a boil and cook until it reaches 240F. Remove the pan from the stove and pour it carefully into a cup with a spout (easier to pour) .
Dissolve the gelatin in the microwave for 10 seconds, or in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
While still whipping the yolks, slowly pour in the hot honey, being careful to temper them and not cook them. Pour the gelatin over the egg/honey and whip together for a few seconds and add the mascarpone, one tablespoon at a time. Whip until cooled to room temperature and has tripled in volume
In another bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks or if you are using a stand mixer, pour the mousse into a large bowl and clean the mixer bowl thoroughly, or use another mixer bowl if you have one. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mousse trying to deflate the whole thing as little as possible. Use immediately.
Prepare the buttercream:
Place the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream (temperature should be about 235-238F). Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-8 minutes. Proceed per recipe or store for up to a week in the fridge or 3 months (well wrapped in the freezer).
Assemble the cakes: like eight cake rings with rhodoid or plastic protector sleeves cut to fit (yes, like the ones in the office)and place them on a baking sheet. Place a cake round at the bottom, place a layer of raspberries on the outside, fill with mousse to the top of the raspberries, top with one round of cake, more mousse and a final round of cake. Place in the refrigerator and let set 2 hours or overnight. When the mousse is set, cover with the buttercream and refrigerate.
For the pulled sugar ribbons:
1 1/4 cup (250gr) sugar
100 ml water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
5-8 drops red food coloring
In a heavy saucepan set over high heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil (do not let it turn into caramel). Once it is boiling, add the lemon juice and coloring. Bring the syrup to 298F on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour the caramel onto a silicone mat. You might want to wear some pastry gloves at this point because the caramel is extremely hot. Little tip: I have found myself with not one glove in the tool box so I used a new pair of dishwashing gloves instead.
Let it harden until it is pliable and carefully start folding the mat back and forth onto itself to work the sugar mass a bit. Take small pieces of the mass and start pulling, twirling or even make rose petals and other flowers with it. Beware that pulled sugar cools as fast as it gets hot so if it becomes harder and harder to work with you have different options available. If you have a heat lamp, place the pulled sugar underneath until pliable again. If you are like me (sans heat lamp) you can either place the pulled sugar on the silicone mat on a baking sheet directly on the stove on low heat until pliable or in a low heated oven. Be careful and watch it carefully: it can turn into "real" caramel very fast this way so do not walk away while you reheat.