Chocolate Silk Torte
“Hot enough for ya?” That was a common summer salutation I remember from growing up in Texas. And 50 years later I still don’t get it. In a place where the temperature topped 100 for weeks at a time, and the humidity was usually above 60 percent, “yeah, it’s hot enough, thanks for asking.”
Speaking of hot, just off the press is the Virginia City Alumni Association’s Cookbook with proceeds going to support the heroic restoration of the Fourth Ward School. It contains heirloom recipes from residents both past and still present going back as far as 1920. Besides the encyclopedic treatment of Jell-O, there are recipes for chili from a former sheriff, little Cornish meat pies popular with the miners, and lemon icebox pie.
It was the icebox pie that started me thinking about summer desserts. Although fruit is the first thing that comes to mind with its prevalence at both the market and in the food media, what about chocolate? It’s always in season if you’re a chocolate devotee.
The recipe which follows is for a Chocolate Silk Torte, essentially an icebox pie since it depends on refrigeration rather than baking. This torte shows up on restaurant menus here and there like tiramisu or creme brulee and therefore, has some mystique. You’ll see it’s pretty simple.
When cutting the torte, use a hot, dry knife. A wet knife will leave a bead of water and melted chocolate along the cut edge that just doesn’t look good. Dip the knife in hot water for a few seconds then dry it on a clean towel before each cut. Or, using that small propane torch you bought for the creme brulee, run the blade of your knife in front of the flame for 2 or 3 seconds. No need to dry.
So take advantage of all the fruits of summer while they last. But if it’s chocolate you’re craving, slip into some silk.
Chocolate Silk Torte
Crust for 9″ springform pan
• 4 ounces toasted, coarsely chopped walnuts
• 4 ounces toasted, coarsely chopped pecans
• 1Ú2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
• Pinch of ground cinnamon
• 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Combine the walnuts and pecans with the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Pour in the melted butter and mix thoroughly. Press into the bottom of the spring-form pan (not up the sides) and refrigerate for one hour.
• 20 ounces of bittersweet chocolate
• 6 ounces of unsalted butter
• 3Ú4 cup sugar
• 6 large eggs
• 1Ú4 cup heavy cream (whipping or manufacturing cream)
• 1Ú2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler stirring occasionally until smooth. While the chocolate is melting, place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Switch to the whisk attachment and add the eggs, 2 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to free up any butter that has stuck to the bowl. Whip on high speed for a minute or two until the egg mixture increases a little in volume.
Test the chocolate for temperature. It should be warm but not hot. Whisk the melted chocolate into the egg mixture on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then continue to mix until chocolate is fully incorporated. Stir in the cream and vanilla. Pour the mousse over the crust and spread with a spatula to level.
Refrigerate over night. Serve with a little whipped cream.
• Brian Shaw and his wife, Ardie, own the Cafe del Rio, 394 S. C St. in Virginia City.