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6.12.17

ESZTERHAZY TORTE - ESZTERHÁZY TORTA

I am going to criticize a national treasure. Don't get me wrong, it worked out just as it should. But as far as culinary indulgences go, I rate it... maybe a four? It makes sense why there are so many versions of it. I would make the Almond Custard Cream again for a buttery cake. For the almond dacquoise, I would add toasted nuts and candied fruits and bake it as a confection. Perhaps I could try a deconstruction... Though I will not make the torte again. A thin slice is nice. But truly worthy things you would want to repeat. And just because the Eszterházy Torte has an ostentatious history and requires skill to create, it don't make it a great torte. To read about the Eszterházys and the history behind the torte, scroll down to the end of the recipe.*

Here is a chef preparing his interpretation of the Eszterházy Torte.

Eszterhazy Torte

Almond Dacquoise Layers:
10 egg whites
1-1/3 cup sugar
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups whole unpeeled almonds

Almond Custard Cream:
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean
1-3/8 cups unsalted butter, soft
1/2 cup unpeeled almonds
1/8 cup rum

Decoration:
1/2 cup shaved almonds

Top:
6 oz good quality white chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream  

1/8 cup pure dark chocolate, finely chopped


  • Prepare everything you will require on the first day.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Next grind 2-1/2 cups of whole unpeeled almonds. Do not think of using almond meal.
  • Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  • Spread the ground almonds around and roast them for 6 minutes in the preheated oven.
  • Remove the baking tray, turn over the almonds and bake for 5-6 minutes longer.
  • Remove and grind the toasted almonds once more. The second grinding will ensure a uniform texture, but not quite as fine as almond meal.
  • The bulk of the almonds will be used for the dacquoise.  However set aside 1/2 cup for the Almond Custard Cream. Let all the ground almonds cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile prepare the Almond Custard Cream.
  • Beat the egg yolks and the sugar until very creamy.
  • Place the milk in a saucepan and scrape the vanilla beans on top.
  • Place on medium heat and bring to almost a boil, but don’t let it boil.
  • Stir a ladleful of hot milk into the beaten egg yolks to temper it.
  • Scoop the egg mixture into the hot milk and stirring continually cook it until the mixture is 85C or 185F, [don’t mix it up].
  • Remove the custard from the heat, transfer to a mixing bowl and place it in the fridge to cool.
  • Next you bake the dacquoise layers.
  • If you have 2 oven racks, select various baking trays and pans that will accommodate 5 seven inch cake layers. If you only have one oven rack, you will have to assemble and bake the dacquoise layers in two batches.
  • Line the bottoms of the baking trays with parchment paper.
  • Draw five 7 inch circles on the parchment and with the pencil. Place the marked parchment papers back in the baking trays with the markings facing downward.
  • Spray the circles with flavourless cooking spray or with butter and set aside.
  • Next beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • Gradually add the sugar and the flour and beat until stiff peaks form.
  • With a wooden spoon gently stir in 2 cups from the ground toasted almonds.
  • Divide the dacquoise batter between the 5 circles, spreading it all the way to the markings.
  • Place in the preheated oven and bake at 350F for 6 minutes.
  • Move the baking pans from the top to the bottom and from the bottom to the top and bake for 6 more minutes.
  • Remove the pans from the oven.
  • Immediately trim the dacquoise layers cutting with a 7 inch cake ring, much like you would use a cookie cutter, or cutting around a 7 inch circular object. 
  • By now the custard has cooled down enough to complete the Almond Custard Cream.
  • Transfer the custard to the bowl of a standing beater.
  • Set the speed to medium and beat the custard, gradually adding the butter and beating until fluffy.
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup of ground almonds and beat to combine.
  • Finally beat in the rum.
  • [You can fill the dacquoise layers inside a 7 inch cake ring or placed on a suitable plate, though the latter will be more difficult. The beauty of the cake ring is the dacquoise layers will shrink and the cream will be forced out to the space between the ring and the dacquoise layers thus evenly icing the sides of the cake.]
  • Divide the cream in four parts and spread it between 4 dacquoise layers, leaving the top layer bare.
  • Wrap the whole thing and place in the fridge for the night.
  • The following day remove the torte from the fridge and cut around the edge of the cake ring.
  • Lift off the cake ring.
  • In a nonstick fry pan toast the flaked almonds lightly. Let them cool down before using.
  • While the almond cool, the cream on the side of the tort will warm up a bit allowing the almond flakes to adhere.
  • To prepare the white chocolate ganache for the top, pour the heavy cream into a saucepan over medium heat and heat it until just boiling.
  • Remove from heat and add the chopped white chocolate.
  • Stir to blend.
  • Let cool for 15 minutes.
  • Pour on top of cake.
  • In a small bowl lightly melt the dark chocolate in the microwave. Some chocolate bits should remain.
  • Remove and stir until smooth.
  • Pour into a small zyploc bag.
  • Close the bag and push the chocolate toward one corner of the bag.
  • Clip the end and pipe strips of chocolate on the top.
  • With a sharp knife, score across the piped strips at intervals.
  • Change direction and repeat.
  • Cut thin slices, the cake is very rich. Best on the same day. 
*Many disparate claims have been made about the "true Eszterházy Torte", both by Hungarians and Austrians, but for one reason or another none are exactly like the original. One of the most common deviations is the use of walnuts instead of almonds. Joining all those who made the departure from the authentic Eszterházy, not being a fan of fondant and overly sweet things myself… I too went against the count’s vision… replacing the fondant with white chocolate ganache..

Eszterházy was an aristocratic Magyar family that produced scores of diplomats, army officers, and patrons of the arts. By the 18th century the Eszterházys were the largest landowners in Hungary with a private fortune excelling the Habsburg emperors. The family continued to hold important governmental, ecclesiastical, diplomatic, and military positions well into the 20th century. The Eszterházys were fierce patrons of the arts, the composer Joseph Haydn lived with them. The seat of power was in Kismarton, presently in Eisenstaedt, Austria. This wasn’t the only fabulous castle the family kept in Hungary. Just how far the Eszterházy influence reached, there is a town in Saskatchewan bearing the name of its founder Count Paul Otto Esterhazy. He must have been an illegitimate or renegade member of the family. His claim to nobility never received official recognition, though he possessed both the talent and the means to establish a thriving Hungarian farming colony in Canada.

One of the Esterházys was Paul, a gastronomer with a score of chefs and kitchen aids at his disposal. The two dishes attributed to him are the Eszterházy Steak and the Torte. The most controversial of course is the torte. According to the Eszterházy letters in Eisenstaedt, the Eszterházy Torte had five layers of almond meringue filled with a combination of vanilla bean infused custard, sweet butter and rum and then finished with a poured fondant and thinly piped chocolate design on the top. I would think you couldn’t possibly have a more authentic source than what remains in the Eszterházy archives.

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!