chocolate bourbon pecan torte
I have a tendency to cling to summer, soaking up late afternoon sun on the beach, scowling at reddening leaves, and refusing to wear shoes despite my cold toes. Eventually though, I give in, and one sure sign of this acceptance of fall has traditionally been the replacement of my evening gin & tonic with a bourbon & ginger. While I’m nowhere near ready to make the annual gin to bourbon transition, the other night I did have a dream about bourbon.
More specifically, I dreamt of a dessert my friend Jess and I once shared — a chocolaty, bourbony dessert that, as I recall, was ridiculously good. So good that we talked about it for weeks afterward and actually considered holding happy hour at a restaurant with no happy hour specials simply so that we might order dessert to go. So good that one slice shared two years ago now sends visions of chocolate and bourbon dancing in my head. So good that since awakening from said visions, I’ve been able to think of little else. And so good that despite there being a nearly-full bottle of gin in the freezer and a solid month of gin-drinking weather to go, I broke down and bought a bottle of bourbon.
Just for the chocolate though. Well, and the pecans. But not for me. It is, after all, still summer. Just so we’re clear.
Back to the dessert: I mentioned the chocolate. And the bourbon. Plus there were pecans. I’m not really sure how they were all arranged, but I do remember a rich, dense, fudge-like sort of cake that I believe the restaurant called “sin pie.” Only I hate cake, so it must not have been a cake; and I don’t think it had a crust, so it hardly qualifies as pie. I think it was a torte.
At any rate, my version (which is really a barely-modified version of somebody else’s version) is a torte. And it’s just as sinful as the version that’s been languishing in my subconscious for the past two years. It’s incredibly chocolaty and perfectly boozy with a delicious nutty crunch. We ate it warm for dessert last night and, oh!, so good.
I fell asleep thinking that next time I might leave the pecans out of the torte itself and try to create some sort of crunchy, nutty crust instead (is it any wonder I dream about food?), but when I ate a cold slice. . .ahem. . .this morning I decided that it was absolutely perfect just as it is.
Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Torte
adapted from a recipe by Lora Brody, via Dorie Greenspan on Serious Eats
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/3 c. sugar
½ c. bourbon
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces, at room temperature
5 large eggs, at room temperature (un-refrigerated for about 30 minutes)
1½ T. flour
1 c. pecans
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9″ round cake pan, line with parchment paper, and butter the parchment paper. Set the cake pan in a shallow roasting pan and set aside.
2) Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until you can smell them. Chop the pecans into small pieces and set aside.
3) Put the chocolate in the work bowl of your food processor. (Dorie also has instructions for doing this by hand.) Bring the bourbon and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan, then pour the syrup over the chocolate. Process until blended, about 12 seconds.
4) With the machine running, add the butter in pieces, followed by the eggs, one at a time, and then the flour and chopped pecans. Process an additional 15 seconds.
5) Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a silicone spatula to smooth it. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come about 1 inch up the sides of the cake pan. Bake the cake for 30-45 minutes, at which point the top will have a thin, dry crust. (The original recipe says to bake the cake for exactly 30 minutes, but mine took about 45 to form the crust she describes.)
6) Remove the cake pan from its water bath, wipe the pan dry and cover the top of the cake with a sheet of plastic wrap. Invert the cake onto a flat plate, peel off the parchment and quickly but gently invert again onto a serving platter; remove the plastic.
7) The original recipe says to serve the cake warm or at room temperature, but I like it a lot better cold. To chill, refrigerate for 2 or 3 hours. (I’m just guessing here — mine chilled overnight) The original recipe also suggests serving the torte with a dollop of white chocolate whipped cream. There are few things I dislike more than white chocolate, so I just stuck with the bourbon theme and made a bourbon whipped cream.
8) Once cooled, the cake can be covered and kept at room temperature for 1 day or refrigerated for up to 3 days. Wrapped airtight, the cake can be frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.
Bourbon Whipped Cream
(makes 2 cups)
1 c. heavy cream
½ t. sugar
¼ t. vanilla extract
1 T. bourbon
1) In a large mixer bowl, place all the ingredients and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
2) Beat the mixture until soft peaks from when the beater is raised or the cream mounds softly when dropped from a spoon.