Sunday, December 9, 2007

Walnut Torte with Rum Syrup


" I am looking for Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey please. I can't find it anywhere in the cooking section."
"Sticky... what? Are you sure it's in the cooking section? What a strange title!" The bookstore clerk was frenetically browsing the computer repertoire to find the book. "Ah, here it is - Sticky, Messy, Chewy, Gooey, you were right." Then, a man who I had seen look back at us a few times asked: "What kind of book is that? That just sounds too intriguing not to open." I'd like to think that in a couple days he will be getting his hands on a copy of the book too.

One of the great things about starting a food blog is being able not only to post about the recipes you've enjoyed, but meet, in a somewhat virtual way, a community of people who share your love for good food. Over at Taste and Tell, Deborah had mentioned this dessert book, and after looking up reviews on the internet, I knew I had to get myself a copy. The book really is a find: the pictures are decadent, and there is more chocolate and caramel recipes than I could every dream of making. I thought I'd begin with this walnut torte though, to try something a little different. My mother used to have this great recipe for a walnut tart, and it was one of the staples of my childhood eats. Going back to France in a few days for an early holiday family reunion, I will have to dig up the recipe. But since I have never been known to be the patient type, I tried this one out.

It's very different from most recipes for I've made before mostly because of the rum syrup that is dowsed over the cake straight when it comes out of the oven. It gives the cake an amazing texture and fills the batter with rum and sweet goodness. This cake was really a treat to make. I did find it a little too sweet though, and will test the recipe using less sugar when I make this again.


Recipe adapted from Jill O'Connor
(Will satisfy 10 hungry people)
3 cups of very finely chopped toasted walnuts (laid out evenly on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes)
1/2 of unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
A pinch of salt
6 large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups pf sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
A pinch of cream of tartar
For the rum syrup:
1 3/4 cups of water
2 cups of sugar
2 or 3 tablespoons of dark rum

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, mix the walnuts, flour, baking powder and salt. Place the egg yolks in another bowl and the whites in a large stainless steel bowl mixing bowl. Whisk the egg yolks, gradually adding 1/2 cup of sugar, until the mixture is creamy (about 2 minutes). Whisk in the vanilla. Add the walnut mixture to the beaten egg yolks. The mixture will be very thick.
Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together until frothy. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Increase the speed to high and add the remaining 1 cup of sugar (1 tablespoon at a time). Beat until all the sugar is incorporated and the whites form stiff, glossy peaks.
Add a large dollop of the egg whites to the walnut mixture and fold in to loosen the batter. Carefully fold in the remaining egg white mixture.
Lightly grease a round springform with some butter. I used individually-sized springforms which cook for about 30 minutes, but if you are using a 10-inch round springform, bake for 45 minutes. Be careful to only fill the mold 3/4 of the way up as the torte will rise in the oven. The torte is ready when a skewer is inserted in its center and comes out clean.
Wile the torte is baking, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture has the consistency of maple syrup (about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and add the rum. Let the syrup cool slightly.
Transfer the bakes torte to a wire rack and pierce with a wooden skewer to allow the syrup to penetrate the torte. Pour the syrup over the warm torte. Let it cool before you remove the springform. The cake might be a little difficult to move because of the syrup, so you might have to keep the base of the spingform under the cake. Enjoy with a glass of milk or scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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