Sarah's Secret Flat Chocolate Tort
- 1 teaspoon potato starch
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (extra brut preferred, 22 percent fat)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup half-and-half
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup
- 1/4 cup water
- 7 egg whites
- 1 vanilla bean, split in 1/2 lengthwise
- 4 egg yolks
- Caramel Crust, recipe follows
- Caramel Crust:
- 1 cup blanched sliced almonds, pulsed in a food processor to form large crumbles
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Line a 10-inch circular springform cake pan with parchment paper.
Combine the potato starch, cocoa powder, and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.
Melt the chocolate chips, half-and-half together in a double boiler. If you don't have a double boiler, then bring a pot of water to a simmer, turn the heat off, and melt the chocolate and half-and-half in a bowl set over the hot water, being careful not to get any water into the mixture. Add the brandy, stir to combine, and set aside.
Make a meringue by combining 1/2 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water in a heavy-bottomed pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then continue cooking until the syrup reaches 240 degrees F. With the wire whip attachment, whip the egg whites in an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks. Pour the hot syrup over the meringue with the mixer running. Continue whipping until cool, and then set aside.
Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into a large bowl. Alternatively, you may substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the vanilla bean, but the flavor will not be as spectacular. Add the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar to the bowl and whisk until the ingredients have developed some body. Add the melted chocolate mixture and blend. Add the potato starch mixture, and stir until just combined. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue with a rubber spatula, and then fold in remaining meringue. Pour batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake has crusted, it does not jiggle, and the cake sticks to a toothpick when inserted in the center of the cake. Let cake cool completely on a wire rack.Caramel Crust:
Pulse the almonds in a food processor until they form large crumbles. Leave the ground almonds in the food processor.
Bring heavy cream to a simmer in a double boiler or in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Melt the sugar in a copper pot, and then slowly drizzle in the cream, stirring with wooden spoon. Continue stirring, as the mixture will bubble rapidly. When the cream and sugar are combined, pour into the food processor through the feed tube while it is running. Stop processing when the mixture forms a ball.
Using hands well dusted with confectioners' sugar, roll almond mixture into a ball, and place it between 2 sheets of dusted parchment paper. With a rolling pin, and using a very gentle motion, roll from the center in a direction away from you until you have a disk about 10 inches in diameter.
Remove 1 layer of parchment paper, invert the cooled cake, remove the other layer of parchment paper, place it onto a cake board, flip over the cake, and remove the parchment from the top of the cake. Dust the sides of the cake with powdered sugar.
Professional Recipe: This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional and makes a large quantity. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe in the proportions indicated and therefore cannot make any representation as to the results.
Recipe courtesy Warren Brown