I get strangely anxious about recipes during this time of year. One side of me wants to leap into fall recipes head first because, after a summer of popsicles, they feel novel. But the other half of me, the half that pays attention to the calendar, knows it’s still summer. And there is no greater sin a Canadian can commit than ushering summer out the door prematurely. So what’s a girl to do? Keep on posting summer-friendly eats until the 21st? Or start cooking for the sweater weather ahead? How about both? Yes, both! Today’s Dark Chocolate Port Torte with Malted Whipped Cream is a delicious compromise designed to placate my opposing sides. The torte’s crown of fruit says late summer, while the dark sultry cake underneath flirts with fall.
The term “torte” is fairly liquid. A number of seemingly unrelated cake-like desserts fall under the torte umbrella. Everything from a mille-feuille to the Swedish Princess Cake. As a North American, I always thought a torte was something more akin to a flourless chocolate cake. The rather broad definition of the word torte makes a little more sense when you learn Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Russia use torte and cake interchangeably. Think of all the desserts we classify as cake – the variety is bananas.
Sometimes food terms are muddy and defy a tidy definition. Other terms have little rhyme or reason to them. They can be purely cultural and/or utterly arbitrary. I wanted to get this explanation for my using the word torte out of way in case you were having a #notmytorte moment. This is simply a torte that reflects my interpretation of the word “torte”…or something like that.
This Dark Chocolate Port Torte rhymes. Yeah, thought I’d address the particularly adorable elephant in the room as well. Yes, I am aware and delighted by the silliness of this dessert’s name. But I promise I did select the title purely for its descriptive attributes. The cute rhyme was just an unintended but welcomed bonus. But enough about the title, let’s talk about the torte itself.
This torte is one of the simplest desserts I’ve ever encountered. It takes about as much time as a tray of brownies to make and its ingredient list is brief. Water, sugar, butter, chocolate, port, and eggs just about sums it up. You don’t even need a mixer to make it. All you need is a saucepan, whisk, and cake pan. You’ll probably want either a hand beater or a stand mixer to make the whipped cream. Or, if you have forearms of steel, you can feel free to hand beat that too. I promise I’ll be impressed.
This torte comes together when butter and chopped chocolate are introduced to a simple syrup. The meeting parties are then whisked to form a mixture that can only be described as “smooth glossy goodness.” To that port and a pinch of salt are added and six lightly beaten eggs are whisked in. The resulting batter is poured into a prepared pan and place in a water bath for the duration of the torte’s cook time. The torte does need to cool for a fair amount of time before you remove it from its pan, so you do have to plan ahead. But the actual work involved in making this torte is minimal and far from technical.
The Malted Whipped Cream is exactly what it sounds like. Cream whipped with malted milk powder. I love this cream so much! It tastes like the interior of a Malteser. I opted not to add any sugar to the cream as my malted milk powder was already sporting a fair amount. But feel free to add some if your milk powder is low in sugar or you like things sweeter. Start with a teaspoon of added sugar and work your way up from there.
The fruit arranged on top of this torte is a flourish and it will range in levels of necessity based on who you are. I’m a food stylist, so the crown was basically my primary goal. But, I think it’s fair to say, I find joy in strange things, like, the cross-section of a fig and fiddling sage sprigs for no reason. I exist in a niche, I know. But in all likelihood, you don’t exist in this bizarre microcosm of food obsessives and you care more about the chocolate than artfully scattered bourbon cherries. So an alternative to this foodie fantasy is a scattering of sliced figs, a few scattered blueberries, and a handful of blackberries. You can really use any fruit you like but I would urge you to include figs – they really compliment the torte well.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Dark Chocolate Port Torte with Malted Whipped Cream. It delivers the best of the late summer with a dash of fall. The perfect between-season dessert.
Dark Chocolate Port Torte with Malted Whipped Cream
- 9" cake pan
- large roasting pan with high sides
- ⅓ cup water
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 170g (6oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 170g (6oz) 70% dark chocolate finely chopped
- ¼ cup port
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 large eggs lightly beaten
Malted Whipped Cream
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream
- ¼ cup malted milk powder
- Shards of dark chocolate
- Sliced and whole figs
- Fresh sage leaves
- Burbon-soaked cherries
For the Torte
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease and line a 9" inch cake pan with parchment paper. Dust the inside with cocoa powder, shaking out the excess. Set aside.
- Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Take the pan off of the heat and add the butter and chocolate. Let sit for 2 minutes before whisking until glossy and smooth. Whisk in the port, vanilla, and salt.
- While whisking constantly, slowly stream the eggs into the chocolate mixture. Whisk until the eggs are fully integrated.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place the pan inside a large roaster. Fill the roaster with hot water until the bottom half of the cake pan is immersed. Place the roaster in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes or until set in the middle.
- Take the pan out of the water bath and place on a cooling rack. Leave the torte to cool in its pan for 1 hour before inverting the pan onto the cooling rack. You may have to run a butter knife around the edges of the torte but go slow and be gentle.
- Once the torte is free, invert the torte once again onto a cake stand or platter. Set aside until ready to decorate.
For the Whipped Cream
- Pour the cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the malted milk powder and whisk on high until stiff peaks form.
- Spoon the whipped cream on top of the torte and, using the back of a spoon, create texture and swooshes in the cream. Top the cream with any or all of the garnishes listed above. Serve the torte immediately or chill until ready to serve.