Monday, October 5, 2009

Hungarian Jancsi Torta

I don't have my copy of Rose's Heavenly Cakes yet, but as my schedule for the end of October might not allow much time for baking, I visited a local bookstore and copied the recipe out by hand.

IMG_2535This is a flourless cake with chocolate, but don't think of the dense sort that can be like eating a cake-sized chocolate truffle. Tortes and tortas use ground nuts or breadcrumbs instead of flour, and beaten eggs to provide the structure. The texture can be as light as a cake baked with flour.

For the Hungarian Jancsi Torta, the basic procedure is to grind walnuts with sugar until fine, chop dark chocolate ditto, then blend these two items together as the the dry ingredients.

IMG_2540Next you beat egg yolks with sugar until thick, and fold that into the 'dry' mixture. Beat egg whites with a little sugar and cream of tartar, fold that in, and bake. (There are more in-process photos on my Flickr account, though I warn you I'm not in the running for best amateur food photograper by a long shot.)

IMG_2541I was really surprised looking at the photo in the book and reading the recipe, because it seemed like all the chopped chocolate should blend in to produce the typical chocolate cake. But it doesn't--mixing it in with the ground walnuts keeps it in separate flecks, and you get a definite chocolate taste without having "chocolate cake".

IMG_2543Comments from the Folks Next Door: the kids all tried it with raspberry preserves, and it got 3 thumbs up. (The recipe suggests either covering the cake with a whipped ganache, pouring some apricot preserves over it, or serving with a little whipped cream. Ganache seemed too much for my tastes, for this cake anyway, and chocolate/raspberry is a no-fail combination.) Sister-in-law tried it with apricot and felt it really needed the fruit to make the taste 'pop', but my brother disagreed--he scraped most of the apricot away, and thought a little whipped cream would be all it needed. No whipped cream was available, alas. I think I'm in the whipped cream camp, too.

Commments from people in the office who got tastes (it went fast) were very favorable--people liked the texture, the good chocolate flavor, and the moistness.

Recipe notes, with the caveat that I was working from my hand-written copy and might not have gotten all the instructions down correctly:

  • I used 70% Scharffen Berger chocolate--the recipe called for 60%, but had a note that didn't make sense to me about 70% being OK and to reduce the sugar to 2/3 cup from 3/4. I'd have though the less-sweet chocolate would call for an increase in sugar. As none of us like things very sweet in any case, I stuck with the 3/4 cup of the base recipe.
  • I weighed my yolks and whites to get the exact amount, and needed 7 whites and 9 yolks.
  • I think I underbaked a little--I should have grabbed for an instant-read thermometer, but I was rushing to get ready for the annual block party. The top did spring back and the sides were just starting to pull away from the pan, but when the cooled cake was cut there was a little area in the middle that was gummy. It's visible on the slice picture above. Didn't seem to hurt the taste much, and at least the cake wasn't dry!


  1. What a labor of love to copy the recipe by hand! Oh the things we do for the love of baking!! :)

    I'll definitely weigh my whites next time - thanks for letting us know how many whites and yolks you needed.

    Feel free to visit my post

    Take care,

  2. Kudos for copying the recipe! If you didn't already know, the recipe for the Barcelona Brownie Bars is on Rose's blog.

  3. What a great idea to go copy the recipe at the book store. I don't have my copy of the book yet and didn't think of that. Great post with pictures and thanks for all the tips.

  4. Don't think I'll be so dedicated every week....but I was glad to see that the Barcelona Brownie Bars are on RealBakingWithRose. I certainly don't want to pass up brownies!