Thursday, December 8, 2011
Graham Cracker Torte
One of my absolute favorite blogs is Eat, Live, Run. I feel like I know Jenna from reading it all the time. Jenna's photos are wonderful, her comments are witty, but more importantly her recipes are awesome. I've reviewed many an ELR recipe here on yelleBELLYboo - kicked up meatloaf, ratatouille, turkey burgers with spinach and feta/goat cheese, blackberry and orange zest muffins, and whole wheat fig newtons to name a few - and for the most part I've enjoyed them all. But since Jenna is a baker by trade, I needed to try more of her baked goods.
Recently, Jenna challenged herself to bake through her great-grandmother's recipe box. I've enjoyed seeing all the interesting 1920s recipes she's trying, and was especially intrigued by this graham cracker torte, which her grandmother apparently had written up on multiple recipe cards. I've never made a cake that actually doesn't have any flour - I had to give this one a shot.
Last year, I tried to make birthday cakes for everyone on my team at work. It got to be a little too much work and I haven't done quite as well this year. However, one of my coworkers has always been so nice - bringing me treats from the potato chip factory, getting an ice cream cake for another coworker's birthday, bringing me the coupons every week - so for her birthday another coworker and I decided to bake her this cake. She's not a huge chocolate person (much like myself) so this cake seemed like something she would enjoy.
I have to admit, this cake isn't the easiest thing to make. At one point, I had to use both my standing mixer and my hand mixer (maybe I should buy a 2nd bowl for my standing mixer?) and the steps seemed endless. When I went to get the cakes out of the tins, it was an utter failure. I wish I had lined the bottom with parchment. In the end, once I added the whipped cream, you couldn't really tell what a mess I had made, but it wasn't exactly the gorgeous torte that Jenna assembled. Plus I definitely cooked and curdled the eggs in the caramel and had to strain it, but I don't think it mattered too much in the end.
So even though this was absolutely not the prettiest cake I've ever made, the taste was outstanding. The cake is somewhere between a sponge and a meringue, but nutty with a nice crunch. The whipped cream made a perfect frosting to counteract the sweet caramel. The birthday girl loved it and said she'd be making it again. Our office finished it in record time - less than half an hour until the serving plate was licked clean. Absolutely a hit! I think I'm getting quite the reputation for making the best-tasting ugly cakes of all time - a reputation I'm just fine with!
Graham Cracker Torte
from Eat, Live, Run
6 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (a little less than two sleeves of graham crackers)
for caramel sauce:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 well beaten egg
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
1 pint heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. Beat egg yolks until light and frothy (I used the whisk attachment of my standing mixer). Add sugar, baking powder and vanilla and continue to beat until very thick and pale in color. Set aside.
3. Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into egg yolks and then fold in the nuts and graham cracker crumbs.
4. Divide batter into two WELL GREASED 9-inch cake pans (I recommend putting a piece of parchment on the bottom of the pans as well) and bake for 35 minutes. Let cool before turning cakes out of pans onto plates or a counter top.
5. To make the caramel sauce, combine all ingredients in a saucepot and bring to a boil whisking the whole time. Don’t stop whisking or the egg will cook and curdle, which isn’t the end of the world (just strain the caramel through a mesh strainer after it cools) but it can be prevented by whisking constantly until the sauce is very thick and boiling. Remove sauce from heat and let cool completely.
6. To assemble the torte, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Spread whipped cream between graham cracker layers and over the top of the torte. Pour on the cooled caramel sauce and it let drip down the sides.
Keep the torte in the refrigerator overnight before serving.