Did you ever have one of those old-style recipes that you just don’t feel right about making anymore? In my case it was my mom’s seven-layer Viennese torte, which features a delicious chocolate buttercream that calls for raw eggs. Unfortunately, the fear of salmonella has scared me away from serving this special dessert for fear of kids or guests getting sick.
But happily, there’s now a way to get around the problem: Safest Choice eggs, which are pasteurized so you can eat them raw without fear of salmonella. The eggs are treated in a special warm-water bath that eliminates bacteria but keeps the eggs raw so use can use them in your favorite recipes that call for uncooked or semi-cooked eggs. I learned about Safest Choice eggs while at Camp Blogaway, and I’ve been excited about making Viennese torte again ever since then.
This recipe is one of many, many versions of a classic Viennese torte known as the Dobos torte, which was first created by a Hungarian chef in the late 19th century. The unifying theme among all variations on the Dobos torte is layers…lots and lots of layers. We always call this the Seven-Layer Torte but usually I make it with just six. Regardless, it’s always been a crowd (and kid) favorite in our family. The best part is that it looks like it takes a lot of work, but if you’re short on time, there’s a super-easy shortcut that will still give you one heckuva great cake without having to bake the sponge cake from scratch.
Seven-Layer Viennese Torte
For the frosting:
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup boiling water
4 Safest Choice egg yolks
1 T cognac or brandy (optional)
1 stick butter at room temperature
Put the chocolate chips and the boiling water in a blender; blend until smooth. Add egg yolks, cognac (you can skip this if you are making cake for kids), and butter and continue blending until smooth. The frosting will be creamy but may appear a little runny. Pour it into a bowl and cover it loosely; refrigerate for 2 hours until it is thick and creamy.
For the cake (the “easy” way):
1 large poundcake, frozen
Carefully slice the poundcake into seven horizontal layers (or six, if that’s all you can get out of it). Spread frosting carefully over the first layer, top with the second layer of cake, frost again, and repeat until the layers are neatly stacked and frosted. Spread remaining frosting on the top and outside of the loaf.
For the cake (the “authentic” way – adapted from The Daring Kitchen):
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 and 1/3 cups powdered sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sifted cake flour (or substitute 1 cup white flour plus 2 T. cornstarch)
Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare two large flat jelly roll pans (cookie pans with a 1-inch lip) by cutting a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom of each.
Place the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Add 2/3 cup of the powdered sugar and the vanilla to the egg yolks, and then blend with a hand mixer until the mixture is thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. In a separate bowl, with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the remaining 2/3 cup powdered sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Using a soft rubber spatula, gradually and gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture (some white streaks should remain). Sift together the flour, cornstarch, and salt and fold it in to the egg mixture slowly and carefully.
Divide the mixture in half and spread each half thinly on top of the parchment paper on the jelly roll/cookie sheet. Bake in the top rack of the oven for five minutes, or until just barely golden brown around the edges. Invert the cakes on a cutting board and peel the paper off the back.
Cut each sheet into three equal rectangles. Set the first rectangle on a platter and cover it with a layer of frosting. Place a second layer on top of the first, frost, and then repeat for the remaining layers. Use the remaining frosting to cover the sides and top. Chill until ready to serve, for at least an hour. Slice in 1/2-inch thick rectangles. Serves 12.
Postscript: Is it delicious? Well, you’ll have to ask these two rascally raccoons. I spent about an hour taking pictures of the cake in the backyard, and then I suddenly remembered I had to pick something up at the school, so I dashed out…and when I returned these mischievous varmints were sitting out on the table enjoying a fancy dessert, complete with red rose. They gave it two paws up, and I think you will too.