The Sachertorte is a classic European dessert featuring chocolate cake brushed with apricot jam and then glazed with more chocolate! Grab a slice and a mug of coffee or tea for dessert tonight!
I love to read. Even as a little boy, you could always find me wandering around with a book in my hand. I liked to wake up and read at 5am…I was a weird kid. Sometimes it was a Calvin and Hobbes comic book. Sometimes it was one of the many Hardy Boys books that my Dad would read to me. By middle school, I remember reading Stephen King’s The Shining. I used to love those creepy Stephen King books! As I said, I was a weird kid! But one of my favorite authors has always been John Grisham. I really enjoy a good legal thriller, and I even got the chance to meet him at a cocktail party back when I was in the high school.
My parents always said I would make a good lawyer. I’m not sure if that’s because I loved legal thriller books, or whether it was because I could argue with a wall. In fact, for years, I just assumed I would eventually go to law school after college. That path turned a different direction, and I spent a number of years working in higher education and college athletics. But I digress. Back to law.
If you’ve spent much time in law (either as a lawyer…or watching Law and Order…or reading John Grisham books), then you’re probably familiar with tort law. Tort law is the concept that people are held legally responsible for their actions if those actions cause harm to another person. Separate from criminal proceedings, tort law is used as the basis for civil lawsuits. But this isn’t a post about tort law. It’s a post about torte law.
You see, back in the mid-1900’s, the Hotel Sacher in Vienna sued the Demel Bakery (also in Vienna) over the term “the original Sachertorte.” The bakery owner’s father father had developed the now famous Sachertorte while he was an apprentice in the Hotel Sacher’s kitchens. Over the years, his son fine-tuned the recipe and then began selling it from his bakery. Of course, the Hotel Sacher wasn’t too pleased, and a nasty legal fight ensued. A legal fight over cake!
In the end, a settlement was reached which gave the hotel the rights to the term “original Sachertorte,” and the hotel makes thousands of these tortes a year. (Indeed, you can order a Sachertorte directly from the Hotel Sacher for roughly $50-100 plus shipping depending on size.) But I’ve always been one of those people that sees food and wonders if I can recreate it at home. Delicious artisan bread at the grocery store? I immediately want to go home and try to replicate it. Tasty soup at a place like Panera? I immediately want to go home and try to replicate it. So it should come as no surprise that I wanted to replicate the Sachertorte here at home.
The Sachertorte is a delicious cake. Experienced bakers will note the extremely high number of eggs and small amount of flour. But trust me here. It works. And it’s tasty! Of course, this isn’t the actual recipe for the original Sachertorte…the Hotel Sacher guards that recipe secretly. (Heck, they should after they spend years battling it out for the rights to the name!) Supposedly the key to the original Sachertorte is a blend of 3 different Belgian chocolates that are melted to create the glaze on top. I simply used good quality semisweet chocolate, and I was quite pleased with the result.
Another unique feature of the Sachertorte is the apricot jam which gets brushed between the layers as well as on top of the cake before adding the glaze. I’ve always found European cakes to be less sweet than their American counterparts, and the Sachertorte is no different. It’s a delicious cake, but it’s not as sweet as most American desserts. As a result, the apricot jam really shines and brings a noticeable flavor to each bite. Laura and I each enjoyed a slice (or maybe two) of this cake, and then I sent the leftovers in for her coworkers. If you love making desserts, then give the Sachertorte a try. It’s a fancy dessert, but it’s not nearly as hard to make as you might think! Cheers and enjoy!
For the Torte
- 5 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped
- 5 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 8 large eggs room temperature and separated
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup apricot jam
For the Glaze
- 6 oz. semisweet chocolate chopped
- 1 oz. unsalted butter
- 2 oz. heavy cream
- unsweetened whipped cream
For the Torte
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour an 8” or 9” cake pan; line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Set pan aside.
- Using a double-boiler or a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of gently simmering water (don’t allow bottom of bowl to touch the water), melt the chocolate until smooth.
- Meanwhile, using an electric mixer, cream together butter and powdered sugar until smooth. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition until well combined. Gradually add melted chocolate into the butter mixture, stirring after each addition. Finally, fold the flour into this mixture until well combined.
- Using a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they reach soft peaks. Gradually fold the granulated sugar (by hand) into the beaten egg whites. Gradually fold egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture in 3 additions, stirring gently after each addition.
- Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of torte comes out mostly clean. Let torte cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove torte to a cooling rack until completely cool.
- Using a serrated knife, trim the top of the torte to make it level. Slice the torte horizontally into two equal layers.
- Heat the apricot jam with 2 Tbsp of water; stir until smooth.
- Place one layer on a large plate and brush top liberally with the apricot jam. Place second layer on top and brush top and sides of torte with the remaining jam.
For the Glaze
- Using a double-boiler or heatproof bowl over saucepan of gently simmering water, add chocolate and butter. Stir occasionally until chocolate has fully melted and mixture is smooth.
- Heat cream until boiling and then stir into melted chocolate.
- Place torte on a wire rack over a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pour chocolate glaze on top. Use an offset spatula to smooth the glaze on top and push excess glaze to sides of torte. (Collect any glaze that drips onto parchment paper and re-pour on top of torte.)
- Let glaze cool and then transfer torte to a serving platter. Let torte set up at room temperature for several hours before serving. (Tip: Slice torte using a large knife dipped into very hot water.)
- Serve with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream.