Monday, January 31, 2011

Ukrainian Walnut Cake

So I decided to get a little crazy and make this cake for a party at Christmastime. My mom cut it out of some magazine years ago and it was one of those things I always looked at in my recipe file and never has the energy to try. It was easily the most labor intensive cake I have ever made. It took hours, with the grinding of the walnuts and the whipping of the egg whites, making the filling and the icing.

But, wow, was it ever worth it. It was so rich and so decadent, but because of the egg whites, it was still so light and not heavy at all. It was not an easy cake, nor it is low-cal, and it was very time consuming, so if you are looking for something quick and easy (on your time and your waist), this is not your cake. But if you've got the time, and the inclination, you won't be sorry.

Ukrainian Walnut Cake
10 oz finely ground walnuts, plus 3 Tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
12 large eggs, separated
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, softened
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted
6 1/2 cups sifted confectioner's sugar
3/4 cup strongly brewed coffee (I used instant)
1 1/2 Tbsp coffee liqueur (optional)
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp instant coffee granules

1. Make the tortes: Heat oven to 350F. Butter the bottoms of two 10-inch round cake pans and fit with circles of parchment paper. Butter the paper and pan sides and set aside. Combine the ground walnuts, flour, cornstarch, and baking powder and set aside. Place the egg whites and salt in a large bowl and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and beat on medium-high speed. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture becomes thick and fluffy -- about 5 minutes. Add 2 tsp vanilla, mix to combine and set aside. Sprinkle the walnut mixture over the yolk mixture and fold in the egg whites until combined. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until the cake centers spring back when lightly touched -- 25 to 30 minutes. Run a knife around the pan sides and turn the cakes out onto wire racks. Cool completely.

2. Make the mocha frosting and coffee filling: Beat the butter, chocolate, remaining 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar together until creamy. Alternately add the coffee, liqueur, and 4 1/2 more cups of confectioner's sugar and continue to beat until fluffy. Set aside. Beat the heavy cream, instant coffee and remaining 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar to soft peaks..

3. Assemble the cake: Split the cakes. Place one split layer on a cake plate and spread 3/4 cup mocha frosting over top. Follow with a third of the coffee cream.Place second layer on top and repeat with frosting and cream. Repeat with third layer. Place the final layer on the cake and spread the remaining mocha frosting over the top and sides of cake. Decorate with the chopped walnuts. Refrigerate until ready to serve.