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Hall of Fame Desserts?

I'm putting together a collection of favorite recipes for my friend's wedding. Does anyone have any all-time favorite desserts to recommend?

Some of my favorites, to be made over and over again:

Dorie's Creamy Lemon Tart
Amanda Hesser's Almond Cake
Claudia Roden's Orange Almond Cake
Lee Bailey's Peach Cake (my ideal summer dessert)
World Peace Cookies
Pichet Ong's Kabocha Squash Pie (that pie crust is amazing)
Gordon Hamersley's Pear and Apple Crumble
Bon Appetit's Chocolate Stout Cake


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  1. A great list! That stout cake is one of my favorites.

    Others, from epicurious:

    Molten chocolate cakes with mint fudge:

    Coconut layer cake:

    Black-bottom peanut butter mousse pie:

    La Bete Noire:

    Gramercy tavern gingerbread:

    I'm still thinking...

    4 Replies
    1. re: kirkie

      I'd also add Nigella's honey semifreddo with pine nuts -- it's perfect for this weather.

      1. re: kirkie

        I second the epicurious coconut cake - if you're a coconut cake fan, and I know not everyone is, is the best of the many recipes I've tried.

        1. re: kirkie

          add jfood to the molten mint cake

          1. re: jfood

            That would require a really large cake pan, even if you're just a chihuahua.

        2. Would you be so kind as to post the peach cake recipe? It sounds like something I need to make, now that it's getting to be peach season again. Thanks!

          1 Reply
          1. re: GSDlove

            Sure! It's from Lee Bailey's Country Desserts:

            I replace the margarine with butter.

            2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
            5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon corn starch
            2 teaspoons baking powder
            ¾ teaspoon salt
            6 tablespoons margarine, softened
            6 tablespoons butter, softened
            1¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
            ¾ cup milk
            1½ teaspoons vanilla
            9 large egg whites, stiffly beaten

            For the cream filling:
            2 cups heavy cream
            ½ cup sugar
            1½ teaspoon vanilla
            1-2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)

            For the peaches:
            5-6 large peaches
            Juice of ½ lemon
            1½ teaspoon vanilla

            1. for the cream filling, combine cream, sugar, and vanilla. Cover /chill, at least 2 hr.

            2. preheat oven to 350. grease three 8-inch round pans; line bottoms with wax paper. grease the paper.

            3. sift together flour, corn starch, salt, and baking powder.

            4. cream together sugar, margarine, and butter. add the dry mixture in four parts, alternating with milk and ending with flour. add vanilla.

            5. fold in egg whites. (don't overmix)

            6. divide the batter btw. cake pans and bake on middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean. let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto cooling racks and cool completely.

            7. dip peaches in hot water for about 10 seconds, then run cold water over them. remove skins and cut each into about a dozen slices. toss slices with lemon juice and sugar.

            8. whip the chilled cream filling until stiff; add vanilla.

            9. the peaches will have given off some of their juices; pour some of it over the bottom cake layer, a little at a time to give it a chance to soak in. place a third of the peach slices on this layer and cover with whipped cream. repeat with the remaining layers. keep refrigerated, loosely covered, until ready to serve.

          2. My favorite go-to desserts, in the summer at least, are Blueberry Buttermilk Tart: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
            and Upside-down Cherry Cake: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            3 Replies
            1. re: ScarletB

              Thanks for the reminder about the BBtart, every year I say I'm going to make it and I never get around to it...this will be the year!!! AND I love cherries, this recipe sounds great!!!

              1. re: 4chowpups

                Neither of those recipes have ever failed me! I even made the blueberry tart at midnight on a day that was over 100 degrees and the crust was melting, and the next day when we ate it, it was perfect. Hope you enjoy them.

              2. re: ScarletB

                After reading this post the other day (and receiving some blueberries from my neighbor), I made this blueberry tart yesterday for a 4th of July cookout. Wow!! So good!!! Everyone loved it and I'll be making it again for sure. Thanks for the link!

              3. Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts:

                Ina Garten's Coconut Cupcakes:

                Chocolate Fallen Souffle Cake:

                3 Replies
                1. re: seconds

                  I checked out Ina's Coconut Cupcakes recipe wow! How many cupcakes does it make?

                  TIA :)

                  1. re: maplesugar

                    The recipe says 18-20, but I was able to get 24 cupcakes when I made them this weekend (with enough batter left over to satisfy my batter-loving husband, who tells me whenever I put any baked goods into the oven that I'm ruining it). The recipe makes way too much frosting - I cut the recipe in half and still have a little left over. These cupcakes are what I make for parties and I always have people comment on how good they are (my neighbor, who has a major sweet tooth, said they were the best cupcakes he has ever had!)

                    1. re: seconds

                      They are very good made them last year i beleive they made about 20 or so.

                2. Love this thread.

                  I'd add spoon cookies and the almond praline cake with mascarpone frosting and chocolate bark, both from the epicurious site.

                  The cookies (made without the filling as I do it) have great taste and texture. And a whimsical but simple shape.

                  And the cake is a standout showstopper celebration cake, much of which can be done ahead.

                  Both are favorites.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: karykat

                    Have you tried the spoon cookies with different kinds of preserves? What are your favorites? Thanks

                    1. re: kirkie

                      Actually, I've never made them with the preserves. I think they would distract from the flavor of the cookie. It has browned butter which really makes the flavor kind of indescribable. People ask if all kinds of things are in them. I think they are tasting the browned butter and can't pin it down.

                      But definitely people do make them with the preserves.

                      I saw on the comments to the recipe that someone has made them in a mini-madeleine pan. I have one of those that has been languishing in storage, and may try that.

                  2. I just made another dessert last night that I'll add to the list: Suzanne Goin's Tarte au Fromage with Lemon Cream and Blueberry Compote.

                    Still trying to choose the right dessert for the Fourth...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: alice.nyc

                      Did you get that Tarte recipe from one of her books or online? Could you post a link or the recipe? It sounds lovely.

                      1. re: ScarletB

                        Hi Scarlet, the Tarte au Fromage with lemon cream and blueberry compote starts on page 75 of Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I found a the recipe online at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/ma...
                        but of course the measurements have been changed for the UK audience.

                        After comparing the recipe on the Telegraph's website with the book published in the U.S., I believe wherever the online recipe calls for "3 1/2 ounces" of sugar, the book states 1/2 cup. Also, for the blueberry compote, the book calls for 2 cups of fresh blueberries (7 ounces on the website) and 1/4 cup dried blueberries (1 1/2 ounces). All the other conversions in the recipe on the Telegraph's website seem fairly easy to understand (and correspond to the book).

                        I hope that helps!

                    2. Lorenza De Medici's Tira Mi Su

                      1. Chocolate-Almond-Raspberry Cake (I make this for my birthday every year): basically an almond pound cake, split and filled with raspberry jam and chocolate ganache, and frosted with the rest of the ganache (on top) and chocolate buttercream (on the sides)

                        Strawberry Tart (from Bittman's How to Cook Everything, under Simple Berry Tart): I use his Rich Tart crust (but only use 8 Tbsp of butter). I bake it a lot longer (about 50 minutes) and the strawberries turn jam-like. Delicious (esp. with whipped cream). I also sometimes make this with peaches (cut into smaller pieces).

                        Nutella Ice Cream

                        Ginger Ice Cream

                        Lemon Ice Cream (surprisingly sophisticated)

                        Layered Ice Cream pies (great for casual affairs)

                        This is a wonderful thread!

                        1. For us, it's definitely epicurious' Double Chocolate Layer Cake, a little heavy for summer but I don't think it's ever wrong to serve dark chocolate, heh:


                          The Gramercy Ginger cake mentioned by another poster is also awesome. I'll definitely be trying the Blueberry Buttermilk dessert very soon, though.

                          1. IMHO, no "Hall of Fame" dessert line up is complete without Lemon Meringue Pie. It's so classic and just do damned good.

                            I'll toss in Banana Pudding into the mix as well.


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Davwud

                              Along the lemon meringue pie lines, I made the lemon swirled cheesecake on Epicurious for a party once, and it was unbelievable. I am my harshest critic for sure, and even I thought it looked like something from a professional shop, and the texture was perfect. I topped it with thinly sliced candied lemon slices. Here's a link: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... I do vaguely remember using Nilla Wafers for the crust, though...

                              1. re: Davwud

                                Do you have go-to recipes for those? I use a combination of recipes for my lemon meringue pie, but I'm never 100% satisfied...

                                1. re: kirkie

                                  Sure, no problem

                                  CLASSIC LEMON MERINGUE PIE


                                  - 1 Pie Shell
                                  - 1 ¼ Cups, Sugar
                                  - 6 ½ Tbsp. Cornstarch
                                  - ¼ Tsp. Salt
                                  - 1 Cups, Water
                                  - 5/8 Cup, Milk
                                  - 5 Extra Large Egg Yolks, beaten
                                  - 1 ¼ Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
                                  - Juice and Zest (Minced) of 2 Lemons

                                  - 1 Tbsp. Corn Starch
                                  - 1/3 Cup, water
                                  - ¼ Tsp. Cream Of Tartar
                                  - 5/8 Cup, Sugar
                                  - 5 Egg Whites
                                  - ¼ Tsp. Vanilla


                                  In a saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually whisk in water and milk. Continue to whisk until mixture comes to a boil. Slowly temper (slowly add to the eggs) egg yolks with milk mixture and add to mixture. Add lemon juice and zest and return to heat. Bring to a simmer, add butter and whisk in. Remove from heat. Cover with plastic wrap (Ensure plastic wrap is directly on top of lemon curd to prevent skin formation.
                                  Mix cornstarch and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until thick and translucent. Let cool. Whisk egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla until frothy. Whisk in sugar slowly until soft peaks form. Add cornstarch mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form.

                                  Pour lemon curd into pie shell. Cover with meringue working around the outside first. Make sure to anchor meringue to pie shell. Make nice peaks on the meringue. Bake at 325* for 20 mins.

                                  OLDE FASHIONED BANANA PUDDING


                                  - 1 Cup + 5 Tbsp., Sugar
                                  - ½ Cup, Flour
                                  - 2 Cups, Milk
                                  - ½ Tsp. Salt
                                  - ¾ Tsp. + ½ Tsp. Vanilla Extract
                                  - ¾ Tsp. Banana Extract
                                  - 1 Tbsp. Butter
                                  - 4 Eggs, separated
                                  - 1 Box, ‘Nilla Wafers
                                  - 4 – 5 Ripe Bananas
                                  - ¼ Tsp. Cream Of Tartar


                                  Combine sugar, salt and flour in a bowl and set aside. Slice bananas 3/8” thick, (cover with plastic wrap to keep from browning) and set aside. Beat egg yolks with half the milk and banana and vanilla (3/4 tsp) extracts in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat. Add the remaining milk, alternately with the dry mixture, stirring constantly. Bring to a gentle boil and when pudding begins to thicken, add butter. Continue to stir to prevent scorching and remove when a pudding consistency has been reached. Place a layer of wafers in the bottom of a 9x9 baking dish (Alternating up and down). Add a layer of bananas and spread to cover with half of the pudding. Repeat with remaining wafers, bananas and pudding. Whip egg whites (at room temperature) and vanilla (1/2 tsp.) until they form soft peaks. Add tartar and sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pudding and bake at 375* for 12 – 15 minutes.


                                  If the directions are a little lacking, I must apologize. I know how to make them and they're really there to refresh my memory.

                                  Good luck and enjoy


                              2. The Layered Mango Cake/Trifle from Rick Bayless' first cookbook is amazing. It's incredibly light, both in texture and flavor. The fresh mango in it goes over very well with my fruit-loving family.

                                I've learned to make a double batch every time and even then there are hardly ever any leftovers. I stopped looking for the perfect summer dessert when I found this recipe.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: metaphora

                                  Paula deens strawberry shortcake is ammmazing!!! made it 2x this summer so far

                                  1. re: metaphora

                                    That sounds great.

                                    I looked for this online and could only find the following:
                                    (scroll all the way down to the bottom


                                    Is this the one? Thanks!

                                      1. re: drewb123

                                        I was actually looking for the Mango Trifle recipe, but this looks great as well! Thanks

                                        1. re: alice.nyc

                                          Hi Alice:

                                          The Mango Trifle recipe is not posted anywhere online as far as I can tell. You can find it in Rick Bayless's first cookbook.

                                          1. re: metaphora

                                            Thanks, m.
                                            Here is the one that Kirkie found online, I think. Does this look right?

                                            Tropical "Trifle" of Mango, Banana , and Almonds



                                            ¾ cup cake flour
                                            1 tsp. baking powder
                                            6 large eggs, room temperature
                                            ½ cup plus 2 tbs. sugar
                                            1 tsp. vanilla extract

                                            4 large (2 ¼ lbs.) mangoes
                                            1/3-2/3 cups sugar
                                            2 tbs. fresh lime juice
                                            ½ tsp. pure almond extract
                                            1 ripe, firm banana

                                            1/3 cup sugar
                                            1/3 cup Grand Marnier
                                            4 oz. cream cheese
                                            4 tbs. fresh lime juice
                                            1/3 cup granulated sugar
                                            ½ pint heavy whipping cream
                                            Almonds, toasted for garnish

                                            For the Cake, pre-heat oven to 350º F. Lightly grease a 17 x 11-inch jellyroll pan, then line with parchment. Grease and flour parchment. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Separate eggs. In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the 6 yolks. In another bowl, place 4 of the whites. To the yolks, add ½ cup sugar, vanilla, and 3 tablespoons hot water. Beat at medium-high speed for a full 5 minutes until light in color and texture. Using a spatula, gently fold flour into mixture in 2 additions. Immediately beat the whites in another bowl at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add one tablespoon of the remaining sugar and beat for 2 minutes or so until the whites hold firm (but not stiff) peaks. They will be shiny. Fold whites into the batter in 3 additions. Gently spread the batter in an even layer onto the prepared pan. Bake until nicely browned and springy to the touch, about 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on cooling rack, then turn out onto rack and carefully peel off paper. Cool completely.

                                            For the Fruit, peel mangoes, cut flesh from pit and chop into 1-inch pieces. Scoop into a bowl and mash with fork. Add 1/3 cup of the sugar. Mix well and let stand for 30 minutes until some of the juice is drawn out of the fruit. Strain liquid into medium saucepan and simmer over medium heat until reduced to ½ cup. Stir in mango and simmer 5 minutes or longer, stirring often. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and almond extract and enough remaining sugar to sweeten nicely. Peel banana.

                                            For the Syrup, combine 2/3 cup water and the sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar. Cool slightly then stir in Grand Marnier.

                                            For the Cream, beat cream cheese, lime juice, and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until light and creamy. In a separate bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into cream cheese in 2 additions, incorporating well.

                                            To serve, if using individual glasses (such as large martini), cut small portions of cake to fit, starting at bottom. If glasses aren't available, cut cake into 2 (8-inch) circles. Place one circle in a shallow serving dish 10-12 inches in diameter. Brush with syrup. Spread ½ the cream and ½ the fruit mixture and cover the other cake circle. Brush with syrup and spread top with cream and fruit, smoothing top. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and top with almonds. Cut into wedges. Garnish with shavings of lime zest on plate. If assembling in individual glasses, assemble the same way. You can also stir fruit into the cream for variety. Banana (thinly sliced) can be layered anywhere within trifle.

                                            1. re: alice.nyc

                                              Hi Alice:

                                              That recipe looks VERY similar. The one I was referring to did not have bananas, nor cream cheese. Also, after making it a couple of times, I realized that you could do without the hot water in the eggs, and I stopped cooking the mangos; the latter step was a big improvement, IMHO.

                                              I usually cut the sheet of cake into thirds and layer with fresh mango. Then I finish the cake off with sweetened whipped cream and press toasted, sliced almonds into the sides.

                                              All this talking about the trifle has made me crave it! I have six mangoes ripening on the counter and am going to make it this weekend. Let me know when you make it and what you thought!

                                    1. Hope I didnt miss these in the list.....creme caramel, creme brulee, panna cotta....all custardy types, and great to "make ahead".

                                      1. the elvis cake - banana sponge with chocolate chips and a peanut butter frosting is probably the most popular cake I've made this year. Deadly but good. There was a long discussion of it on CH; use the search bar to dig it up.

                                        1. Cherry Clafoutis. I never use sweet cherries in cooking, only sour ones. This is an astute recipe from the BBC which successfelly avoids the liquidy runoff from the cherries:


                                          1. After all the raves, I'll be making that blueberry buttermilk tart next week. Sounds incredibly good. Thought I'd add another epicurious recipe to the list - its the lighter-than-air chocolate cake. Basically it is a flourless chocolate cake rolled around flavored whipped cream (I always go with a cognac flavoring). Its much easier to make than you'd guess, and impresses people. Here is the link:

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                Ruth, I really must thank you for this really great (and easy!) recipe. I made it yesterday with sweet, perfect berries from Monterrey Mkt in Berkeley. I used a combination of nectarines (biggest portion), raspberries, blackberries and a few blueberries. Top is nice and crunchy -- it's even good cold spooned straight from the fridge. It's going in my "favorites" file.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  I had a look at this recipe and it looks nice. Does anyone have a good crisp recipe incorporating oats as well? Over here in England a crisp recipe without oats would be called a crumble.

                                                  1. re: cathodetube

                                                    I made a fruit crisp this summer with a lovely topping that includes oats and pistachioes, though in one case I used pecans instead. I'll check my notes to see where I found it.

                                                2. Wanna hear me swear? Damn it! Damn it! Damn it! I had a GREAT list and some recipes all written out when I hit a wrong key and it all went byebye. I either need a new keyboard or new fingers, and getting both probably couldn't hurt.

                                                  So, for the second time around, but probably a shorter list, and I'm sure there are a ton of recipes for all of them on the web, so I'm not going to risk sending more of mine into cyberspace. These are old classic Classics from the Father Time Hall of Fame:

                                                  Cherries Jubilee
                                                  Crepe Suzette
                                                  Peach Melba
                                                  Charlotte Russe
                                                  Baked Alaska
                                                  Creme Brulee
                                                  Baba Rhum
                                                  Christmas Pudding
                                                  Bananas Foster
                                                  Floating Island
                                                  Ice Cream Bombe

                                                  This is about half of what I had before. I'm going to go watch TV now and sulk at my keyboard.

                                                  10 Replies
                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    Wow, that list is still fantastic! Do you have recipes or links for the Charlotte Russe / Dobostorte / Floating Island / Sachertorte that you'd be willing to share?

                                                    1. re: alice.nyc

                                                      Yup. It may take me a while to transcribe them out of my ancient cook books, but I do have every one of them. I'll enter them asap! '-)

                                                      1. re: alice.nyc

                                                        For openers, here's the Dobostorte. It's the most difficult to come by of the recipes you requested. The procedures and ingredients are accurately taken from "The Art of Viennese Pastry" by Marcia Colman Morton (1969), which is possibly the most "schizophernic" cookbook ever written. The recipes are great, but before you can assemble a cake, you have to assemble the recipes! This one is pieced together from no less than seven different chapters, which leaves me wondering if it ever made a second printing. And also explains why I gave up Old Vienna after three recipes from this book. I spent more time flipping pages than I did cooking! But if just one of you makes it, it was well worth it. It is genuine "old world" Viennese baking at its best. Mozart would beg for thirds!

                                                        And now I'm going to Google the web to see if I can find recipes that come close (or sound better) than mine for the others you requested.

                                                        This is a true Viennese recipe, so the methodology may sound a bit off the wall, but it's been working for decades. Even centuries! This batter is designed to hold its shape on a baking sheet, and is used for many other Viennese desserts as well. Because beaten eggs are the “leavening,” pay special attention and follow the procedures carefully. I highly recommend a really great electric mixer, but Viennese pastry chefs of old beat their egg whites by hand with a wire whisk for a half an hour to get the consistency they wanted! Most electric mixers should do the whites in three minutes at high speed. Yolks will take longer. You know the egg whites are right when you can turn the bowl upside down and the egg whites don’t land on your shoes. And my best advice is to read the entire recipe through two or three times before starting. It may sound intimidating because the techniques are so different than dumping in a half tsp of baking powder, but they’re really not all that complicated when you understand them first.

                                                        Preheat oven to 350F

                                                        7 cold eggs, separated , then allowed to sit at room temperature for at least a half hour. Cold eggs are much easier to separate than warm.
                                                        7/8 cup vanilla sugar divided in half, 1/2 for egg whites and ½ for egg yolks
                                                        1 cup + 3 scant Tbsp twice sifted flour
                                                        ¾ tsp salt
                                                        Grated zest of ½ lemon
                                                        3 Tbsp melted, then cooled butter

                                                        For Later:
                                                        Chocolate Buttercreme, triple recipe given below
                                                        Caramel Glaze

                                                        MAKING BATTER Beat the egg whites first (before beating yolks) with impeccably clean bowl and beaters. Beat on low until they are almost a soft foam, then add 2 Tbsp of sugar to blend, then add remaining sugar and continue beating at high speed until sugar is dissolved completely and egg whites achieve maximum volume. Remember, this is your leavening.

                                                        In a second bowl, combine egg yolks with remaining half of reserved sugar (just go ahead and add the sugar all at once at the beginning) and beat at medium high speed until they have doubled in volume and are a very pale yellow. Be patient; this can take at least seven minutes or more, depending on your mixer.

                                                        Now you’re ready to combine the two egg mixtures as the heart of your spongecake batter. Using your best folding technique, fold ¼ of the egg whites into the yolks. The purpose of this is to make the two mixtures more alike in volume and texture, which will maximize the amount of air the finished mixture retains. Remember, the amount of air remaining in the egg mixture when all is done will determine how high your spongecake will rise. Now fold the whites and yolks together thoroughly but lightly.

                                                        Mix sifted flour, salt and lemon zest in a bowl keeping them fluffy. Gently but thoroughly blend with egg mixture. And finally, very tenderly stir in the cooled melted butter. I often use drawn butter, which means melting first, then measuring the 3 tablespoonsful.

                                                        Now you’re ready to make the layers. Traditional Dobostorte has from six to twelve layers. This amount of batter should make about 8 eight inch round layers, but if you run out of batter at seven that’s okay. Or if you have enough batter for nine layers, hooray for you for not squishing too much air out of the egg whites!

                                                        FORMING AND BAKING LAYERS The easiest way to bake the layers is to cut out 8 parchment circles that are eight inches in diameter. Remember, this is a specially formulated batter designed to stand up and stay on the form without running off the parchment. For baking, if you have enough 8 and/or 9 inch cake pans (or cheap disposable 8” aluminum pie pans are ideal), just put the parchment circles on the outside-bottom of the pan to bake. Now, with a light hand and a large spatula, spread a thin (maybe ¼ inch) even layer of batter over the entire parchment rounds. I do this on a countertop where it won’t matter if I run over just a bit in order to get the parchment evenly covered. Then lift it with a pancake turner (the larger the better) and set it on the back of a cake or pie pan. You can stick your finger in the batter bowl and smear a touch on the pan to help keep the parchment from sliding around while you put it in and remove it from the oven.

                                                        It will be the size and number of ovens you have that will determine how you bake the layers. The average home oven has only two racks that will hold two pie or cake pans each. Using this method, #1. Put the remaining batter in the refrigerator until ready to do the second batch, and #2. make sure you put the four pans in the oven so there are two in a diagonal direction on one shelf and two in the opposite diagonal direct ion on the other shelf in order to ensure even heat distribution. Of equal importance, leave the oven door open just a crack while baking. Baking time will be about 15 minutes with the door cracked. The objective is a lightly browned sponge that will spring back into shape when depressed lightly with your finger. The ideal is the texture of a well wrung out sponge. Not totally bone dry, but you don’t want the cake to squish like a wet sponge. Do NOT stick with a toothpick. Not a useful technique for this recipe. And if your re-using cake or pie pans to do the second four layers, make sure the pans are cool so they don't melt the batter before it is time.

                                                        When you remove the layers from the oven, turn them face down onto a very lightly floured surface, immediately peel off the parchment while they’re hot, then very lightly set the cake or pie pan they were baked on on top of them. The objective here is to keep the edges from curling while they cool, but not to weight them down into wafers. Keep in mind that the end goal is to have the finished torte slice into even and equal layers of cake and buttercreme. When all layers are baked, do the caramel glazed layer next.

                                                        DOBOSGLASURE (CARAMEL GLAZE)

                                                        Heat ¾ cup sugar in saucepan over low flame, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it turns a caramel brown and is melted. Dip saucepan into washbasin filled with very cold water (or into sink full of ice cubes) to stop further cooking. Immediately, with metal spatula, spread caramel glaze over top of your most perfect cake round. DO NOT TOUCH GLAZE, IT WILL SERIOUSLY BURN YOU! Since the glaze will harden almost at once, making it impossible to slice once that happens, BEFORE glazing the cake round, butter a knife so it will not stick to the glaze, then as soon as you’ve glazed the cake round, immediately slice it into twelve slices with the buttered knife, then let the slices cool without touching each other. It’s important to have very clean edges along the sliced sides so the entire layer will reassemble on top of the finished torte perfectly. And of course, this will determine where you slice the torte later. Aren’t these Viennese brilliant? Set aside to cool while you assemble the rest of the torte.

                                                        SCHOKOLADE BUTTERCREME (Chocolate butter cream, tripled recipe)

                                                        ¾ pound butter
                                                        3 cups vanilla powdered sugar
                                                        9 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
                                                        3 egg yolks (you can use up to three additional yolks for a more lavish buttercreme)
                                                        1 ½ cups milk
                                                        3 Tbsp cornstarch
                                                        4 ½ Tbsp vanilla sugar

                                                        First off, about vanilla sugar. True Viennese recipes never ever call for vanilla extract! Instead, fill a canister about ¾ full of granulated or powdered sugar, fold a whole vanilla bean in about three places to release the aroma, and bury it in the sugar. The longer it sits, the stronger the vanilla flavor. A couple of days should be enough if you need the vanilla beans for other recipes. Oh, and Viennese cooks always have vanilla sugars on hand. It’s a standard ingredient, just like salt. Now, on with the buttercreme!

                                                        Cream butter and powdered sugar until very light and fluffy. You can melt the chocolate in your microwave, or in a double boiler, but let it cool before adding. Beat in chocolate, keeping mixture fluffy. In top of double boiler over barely simmering water, whisk together egg yolks, milk, cornstarch, and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. This will take a while so be patient. (If you have one of those battery operated “StirChef” gadgets that stir things for you, this is what it was made for!) Remove from heat and continue whisking until mixture is lukewarm. Beat into chocolate mixture. Chill until spreading consistency.

                                                        FINAL ASSEMBLY

                                                        Spread each remaining layer with chocolate buttercreme. The ideal is to have the cake layers and the buttercreme layers be the same thickness in the finished torte. Put a touch of buttercreme on the center of your prettiest presentation cake plate, then stack all but the caramel glazed layer on top of each other. You should have a layer of buttercreme face-up on top when you finish. Frost the sides with butterceme, bringing it up a little high on the top layer. Now carefully reassemble the caramel layer on top.

                                                        Lots of folks, including some very respectable Viennese, stop here, but if you lean toward over the top, there is more you can do. One or both of the following:

                                                        Cover the buttercremed sides of the torte with sliced toasted almonds (or any chopped/sliced nut of your choice) by putting the nuts in a cookie sheet with raised sides, then scooping them up with one hand and pressing them into the sides of the torte while holding the torte over the cookie sheet with the other hand. When the sides are well covered, brush any excess nuts from the plate rim. Store remaining nuts in a zip lock bag in the freezer. And you might want to do this before you put on the top caramel layer to keep the caramel nut free.

                                                        If you have any buttercreme left, and hopefully you do, put it in a piping bag with a star tube and pipe rosettes around the rim of the top caramel layer. And if there’s still some left, do the same around the bottom edge of the torte where it touches the plate. Chill overnight to allow the buttercreme and cake to set up firmly. After all this work you don’t want the buttercreme to come squishing out the sides at first slice. Enjoy!

                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            Wow, looks incredible - thank you so much for transcribing!

                                                            1. re: alice.nyc

                                                              You know, if you're going to mess up the kitchen that much, my advice is to just make two and put one in the freezer. (That's what I do for my mid-December birthday and then I have one all ready for my father's Christmast birthday.) Dobostorte in the freezer is better than money in the bank!

                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                              I’ve been all over the web looking for a decent Sachertorte recipe and can’t find anything I would consider even reasonably authentic. But here’s a fairly detailed history of it:

                                                              And now for a little food history of my own, and why I doubt the web recipes are authentic. There was a time when “torte” meant a “cake” in which all or part of the flour was replaced by ground nuts and, like Dobostorte, eggs were the only leavening. None of the recipes for Sachertorte I’ve found on the web meet this criteria. So again this recipe is from “The Art of Viennese Pastry” by Marcia Colman Morton, that she ascribes to “Master Chef Franz Zimmer, who runs one of the best cooking schools in Vienna.” Good enough for me. And this one is much less time consuming than the Dobostorte. Well, except first you’ll need some:

                                                              GROUND BLANCHED ALMONDS

                                                              You can buy “almond flour” aka ground blanched almonds, on line for about seven bucks a pound. Or you can make your own. Here’s how I make mine in a blender. Boil some shelled almonds in gently boiling water for about five minutes. As soon as they’re cool enough to handle, slip off the skins. If they’re sticking, use the back of a table knife to scrape them off. Put the skinned almonds in a blender with water to cover and let them spin away on high until they’re almost like an “almond milk.” You want them fine, but not so fine they disappear. Strain them through a really fine mesh strainer or line a colander with paper towels and let them drip until dry. Spread them in a thin layer on paper towels spread on a cookie sheet and set in a warm oven (a gas pilot light will do, or the interior light of an electric oven) until they’re completely dry. This might take overnight. Powder them by rolling up the paper towel a few times to get any lumps out, then pour them into a zip lock back and store in the freezer.. You can use a food processor, but you won’t get as fine a finished almond flour as a blender will produce. And quite honestly, it’s easier to buy them on-line, but maybe not as fast.


                                                              Preheat oven to 350F

                                                              ½ cup butter
                                                              5/8 cup vanilla sugar
                                                              6 eggs separated
                                                              5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
                                                              ¾ cup twice sifted flour
                                                              3/8 cup almond flour
                                                              ¼ tsp salt

                                                              For later:
                                                              apricot jam glaze
                                                              chocolate sugar frosting

                                                              For serving:
                                                              whipped cream

                                                              Cream butter and 3/8 cup sugar until very fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time, keeping mixture very fluffy. Beat in chocolate. Combine flour, almonds, and salt. Beat egg whites and ¼ cup sugar until very stiff. Lightly but thoroughly fold beaten egg whites and flour-almond mixture alternately into chocolate mixture. Remember the egg whites are your leavening, so don’t beat the air out of them. Pour batter into a lightly buttered and floured 8 inch springform pan and bake at 350F for 50 minutes or until done.

                                                              Let cake stand 2 days, or at least overnight if you’re in a real rush. Cut cake into two layers and spread center with apricot glaze. Reform cake and brush entire exterior of cake, top and sides, with apricot glaze. Frost cake as directed below. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream on the plate beside it, the traditional “mit schlag.” In Vienna, the whipped cream is never served actually on the cake.

                                                              APRICOT JAM GLAZE

                                                              Put 4 tablespoons of apricot jam through a sieve or food mill so there are no pieces of fruit left. Simmer with 2 Tbsp cold water over low flame until hot and well blended. Apply glaze with pastry brush.

                                                              CHOCOLATE SUGAR FROSTING

                                                              4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
                                                              1 cup vanilla sugar
                                                              ¾ cup cold water
                                                              1 tsp butter

                                                              Heat chocolate in top of double boiler over gently simmering water until almost melted. Set double boiler top directly over medium hot burner, add sugar and water to chocolate. Boil gently, stirring occasionally to blend, until it spins a fine thread when dripped from a silver spoon. This will probably take about 15 minutes. Immediately remove from heat, add butter, and beat frosting against side of pan with wooden spoon until frosting is lukewarm, smooth, thick, but still pourable. This will take about five minutes, and sorry, a mixer just won’t do. (Got a handy spouse?) Place cake on cake rack over a cookie sheet and pour frosting over it to cover top and all sides. Allow frosting to set, release it from the rack by sliding a spatula under it all the way around. Place on serving plate either using the spatulas, or using them to get your hand under it for the transfer. (Whatever works!


                                                              If you’re feeling lazy, instead of the chocolate sugar frosting, you can simply use dark chocolate ganache for the final frosting. For a glazing ganache, pour 3 ounces hot whipping cream over nine ounces of chopped chocolate (dark, semi-sweet, milk, or white chocolate will all work for a ganache, but for Sachertorte it’s gotta be dark chocolate!) and stir until smooth. When cool but still liquid, pour over cake as above, let set up shiny and solid, and transfer to cake plate. Any leftover ganache can be cooled completely, then spooned into balls, rolled in cocoa and voila! You’ve got truffles! Whichever frosting you decide on, enjoy!

                                                              As for Charlotte Russe and Floating Island, there are many recipes on the web. Floating Island is basically a soft custard with steamed merangues floated on it. An old traditional French Christmas dessert.

                                                              Charlotte Russe has "evelved" into just about anything with a ring of Lady Fingers around it. It's supposedly an original creation of Marie Antoine Careme, the fabled 19th century "celebrity chef." One of his claims to glory is that he created so many original recipes for fluffy light dessert "creams," often made with fortified whipped creams, that he formed into his signature molded fantasies. I cannot count the number oc Charlotte Russes I've seen in my lifetime, but none of them have looked like something Careme would present. So on this dish, the defining thing seems to be the Lady Fingers, whether lining a charlotte mold and then turned out so all you see is the Lady Fingers, or an open topped filling-showing presentation. Most of the web versions are the latter, often topped with glazed cherries.

                                                          2. re: Caroline1

                                                            I'm a fan of a well made Buche de Noel as well. Great list!

                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              Ooooooh! I COMPLETELY forgot about Buche de Noel! I looooove making it. I make little meringue mushrooms in advance, sometimes I make little meringue blue birds, sometimes I buy little birds from a craft shop. Then I really make it look like a log, decorate it, then sprinkle with a little powdered sugar snow. I'm just not terribly great at rolling and unrolling the choclate sponge! I quit making it because no one wanted me to cut it. Same with my Christmas tortes.

                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                I've not made one for a couple of years - but love it too, though somewhere in the middle of it I ask myself why I'm doing it - then when it's done, I know why! I put it on an oval silver platter, sprinkle on powdered sugar on the platter, then surround the edge with rosemary sprigs and cranberries that I've dipped in sugar syrup and then super fine sugar. I've never made birds, only mushrooms - may have to try that next time. Julia Child's The Way to Cook has a really full proof method for removing the sponge/genoise from the pan, and then rolling it up.

                                                          3. Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten):
                                                            Outrageous Brownies
                                                            Cheesecake (no cracking, no hot water bath)

                                                            1. Simple classics: strawberry short cake (on angel food cake too), apple or blueberry pie w/ vanilla ice cream.

                                                              1. I would add a recent find from Sept. 2008 Gourmet: chocolate glazed chocolate tarte. It is easy to make, looks professional, and tastes sublime.

                                                                1. Here's my favorite holiday recipe: Hungarian Nut Roll

                                                                  Dough Ingredients:
                                                                  6 to 6 ½ cups sifted flour
                                                                  3/4 teaspoon salt
                                                                  6 tablespoons sugar
                                                                  2 yeast cakes (or 2 packages of dry yeast)
                                                                  ½ cup warm milk
                                                                  1 cup sour cream
                                                                  2 sticks of butter or margarine (melted or very soft)
                                                                  3 eggs (beaten)

                                                                  Instruction for making dough:
                                                                  Dissolve yeast in milk. Combine the rest of the ingredients; add yeast and milk mixture, blending very well. Divide dough into 4 or 6 parts depending on length of nut roll wanted. Roll about 1f4inch thick, spread with nut filling and roll up jellyroll fashion. Let rise for 1 hour, or doubled in size. Bake in 350° oven for 30 to 40 minutes. If desire, you can drizzle with icing--see recipe below.

                                                                  Makes 4 large or 6 medium rolls

                                                                  Nut Filling Ingredients:
                                                                  1 to 2 pounds nuts, ground (About 1 ½ lbs. Walnuts or 3/4 lbs. Pecans)
                                                                  2 ½ cups sugar
                                                                  2 sticks butter or margarine-(melted)
                                                                  2 eggs
                                                                  1 large apple (grated)
                                                                  ½ to ¾ teaspoon cinnamon (per desired taste)

                                                                  Instructions for making nut filling:
                                                                  Combine all ingredients except the butter. Add the melted butter and mix well. Heat mixture in large saucepan until the ingredients blend well and thicken slightly. Spread on rolled dough after the mixture has cooled. This makes more filling than enough filling for the above nut rolls. You can freeze any extra and use as a topping for an apple pie or top baked sweet potatoes or use in a coffee cake recipe-use your own imagination!

                                                                  Icing Ingredients:
                                                                  2 cups confectioners’ sugar
                                                                  2 to 3 Tbsp. milk

                                                                  Instructions for icing:
                                                                  Combine icing ingredients; drizzle over cooled nut rolls

                                                                  This recipe was my husband’s Hungarian grandma’s recipe. After she passed away, I wanted to carry on her holiday tradition of making these yummy rolls for his family. One year I decided to try something different and my husband’s father was so disappointed that year that I vowed never again to break this family tradition. :-)

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Boona

                                                                    Mine is more a bar than say, a cake...but it's still dessert and they're always a hit. Let me know if you want the recipe.

                                                                    Bottom layer - fudge brownie mix with Guittard chocolate chips mixed in
                                                                    Next layer - melted caramels with slight crushed pretzels
                                                                    Next layer - butter and powdered sugar to create "frosting" add in creamy peanut butter-add in crushed peanut butter cap'n crunch
                                                                    Top layer - melted guittard choc chips

                                                                    They seriously go like crazy...and I think it's a good staple to have on hand for graduation parties, work parties, etc.

                                                                    1. re: snoboardbabe77

                                                                      I'd love the recipe. That caramel pretzel layer sounds wonderful!

                                                                  2. Walnut Jam Cake from Gourmet. I love this cake, though I've never included the jam or whipped cream. Such wonderful flavor and very simple to make.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: emily


                                                                      Rugelach. I make mine with mini chocolate chips instead of raisins and walnuts. To die for.