Chocolate Walnut Torte
4 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
3 large eggs
8 ounces walnuts, finely ground
3 ounces unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1 toasted walnut half
For the cake: Adjust rack to middle of the oven and preheat oven to 375°. Grease and flour an 8 x 2-inch round layer cake pan, and place a round of Reynolds Parchment paper on the bottom.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a small, heavy saucepan over very low heat. Transfer the warm chocolate mixture to a large bowl, and while it is still warm add the sugar, zest and liqueur. Cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, blending in thoroughly after each addition. Stir in the finely ground nuts.
Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake 22 to 24 minutes, or until it appears dull, set and feels soft (but not liquid-y) when touched lightly. Don't overbake; the cake firms up as it cools.
Let cake cool on a wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes. Then tilt and rotate the pan, and gently tap it on the counter to see if the cake will release cleanly from the metal. If not, run a knife blade around the circumference of the pan. Cover the pan with a cardboard round, invert the cake onto it, and carefully lift the pan to remove. Peel off and discard the parchment liner.
Let cool fully. If made ahead, wrap in plastic wrap, then wrap again in foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks. Glaze the day you will serve the cake.
For the glaze: Place the butter and chocolate in a 1-quart bowl that fits snugly over a saucepan. Fill the bottom vessel half full with very hot tap water (125° to 130°) and place the butter and chocolate on top to melt. Stir occasionally to blend until the mixture is smooth, shiny and liquid. (Stir slowly so as not to produce bubbles in the glaze.) Remove from the water, and gently stir in the honey.
Place the cake on its cardboard on a work surface. Use a metal icing spatula to apply a thin coating of the glaze on top and on the sides of the cake.
Place cake on its cardboard on a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet (like a jelly-roll pan). Pour more of the glaze onto the center of the cake, and gently tilt it to help the glaze flow over the top and down the sides.
Reheat any leftover glaze (strain out any cake crumbs that might have fallen into the glaze). Pour the glaze into a small handmade paper cone or plastic baggie, snip the point and pipe thin lines in a zig-pattern across the cake's surface.
Transfer the cake to a rack or serving plate and set aside at room temperature. When the glaze has almost set, place a walnut half in the center of the cake.
Pairs Well With
This easy-to-make, one-bowl, very rich cake is adapted from a recipe from the late Helen McCully, longtime food editor for House Beautiful and McCall's. The cake can be baked in advance and frozen for up to two weeks. Glaze on the day you will serve it.