I am not giving you guys a break here. I wanted to post a nice, simple recipe so that beginner bakers would not feel overwhelmed. But now I’m here throwing more multi-step recipes at you like it ain’t no thang. This cake is a thang.
But bear with me here. My brother’s girlfriend spent 3 months in Madagascar this fall, and she brought me back some Madagascar baking chocolate, because she’s awesome. So I had to find a recipe in which the chocolate could shine. I didn’t want to just throw it into any old thing. It needed to be special. Hence, fussy.
And then I discovered some fresh cranberries in our freezer, leftover from Thanksgiving, and my mom walks out with this recipe from her files, and everything clicked.
On the hassle scale, this is up there, but nowhere near torrone or even the La Brea pumpkin pie. Firstly, not everything exploded when I tried to make it. Secondly, there was no parbaking of any sort. There WAS straining through a sieve. And 3 different components–sauce, torte, and glaze. But we’re in for the long haul, right?
I didn’t have enough Madagascar chocolate for the whole thing, but I did have enough for the ganache glaze. I decided it was more important for the good chocolate to be glazed on than baked in.
So my thoughts? A bit of work, nothing you can’t handle. Don’t even THINK about making this if you are not ready to commit to heavy chocolate. The torte is dense, the ganache is dark and boozy, and you will be searching for lightness in the cranberries but they will be overwhelmed, almost mummified in gooey chocolatey-ness.
Oh, but the sauce? The sauce is f’ing lovely. Seriously it is my favorite part of this dessert and a much needed tanginess to accompany all the weighty chocolate. But I am a fruit girl, so take that with a grain of salt. Or a cup of milk, you will need it.
Chocolate Cranberry Torte
from Bon Appetit, December 2003
1 cup fresh cranberries
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp Chambord (I used Grand Marnier wherever you see Chambord–I know, breaking the alcohol in desserts thing AGAIN….2009 is so wacky!)
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/3 cup Chambord
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temp
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup whipping cream
10 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup Chambord
Mint leaves for garnish (I used chocolate-covered pomegranates)
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and cook until cranberries burst, about 5 minutes. Transfer to processor; puree. Strain puree into bowl; discard seeds. Mix in Chambord. Cover; chill at least 2 hours or overnight (sauce will thicken).
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Stir 3/4 cup cranberries and Chambord in small saucepan over medium heat until liqueur simmers, about 1 minute. Cool to room temperature. Drain cranberries; reserve liqueur and cranberries separately.
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat, stirring until beginning to bubble at edges. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; let stand 1 minute. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Whisk in sugar, then eggs 1 at a time (batter will look grainy). Whisk in reserved liqueur. Add flour and salt; whisk gently until blended. Stir in reserved cranberries; transfer to prepared pan.
Bake torte until top is puffed and cracked and tester inserted into center comes out with moist (not wet) batter attached, about 1 hour. Cool completely in pan on rack. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; store at room temperature.)
Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in Chambord. Let stand until glaze is thick but still pourable, whisking occasionally, about 2 hours.
Line rimmed baking sheet with foil; place cake rack in center. Cut around torte to loosen; remove pan sides. Place 8-inch-diameter cardboard round or 8-inch tart pan bottom on top of torte. Holding cardboard and springform pan bottom, turn torte over and place on rack. Remove pan bottom; peel off paper. Pour 1 1/2 cups glaze over torte. Using icing spatula, smooth glaze over top and sides (re-apply any glaze from foil if necessary). Freeze torte until glaze is set, about 10 minutes. Pour remaining 1 cup glaze over torte and smooth evenly. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup dried cranberries around top edge. Freeze until glaze is firm, about 15 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Transfer to platter. Cover with cake dome and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)
Arrange fresh mint leaves between cranberries at top edge of torte. Cut into wedges and serve with sauce.