Sunday, May 5, 2013

Meringue-Topped Chocolate Cream Torte

      This last week has been absolutely insane at school, and I'm getting ready for another crazy week and a half. Everybody is cramming for AP tests coming soon, and mine (AP global history) is on the 16th - until then, I'm pretty much confined to my couch and my books. Since I know you are most likely in a nicer situation, I wanted to take a minute to share this great recipe with you, which I made a few weeks ago for a big family gathering when I was in Brazil.
     It's always interesting for me to bake in Brazil because while many are the same, some ingredients are just slightly different in a way that will have a big impact on a recipe. This year, when trying to make a chocolate cream pie, I discovered that heavy cream (which is hard to find fresh in Brazil, so we buy it canned) there has a slightly larger ratio of water to fat, and therefore has to be strained before being made into whipped cream. Left with a bowl of un-whipped cream and some egg whites, I resorted to a thin layer of meringue with a little cream folded in to make it a little less airy (I'm all for airiness, but trust me, here, this works better). The result? Everybody LOVED it.
    This isn't a traditional chocolate cream pie, but it sure is delicious. The crispy crust, creamy filling and light topping go perfectly together. This torte disappeared, no joke, within five minutes.
Meringue-Topped Chocolate Cream Torte
(filling adapted from King Arthur Flour)

2 cups crushed butter cookies or shortbread
a pinch of salt
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) melted butter

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream, divided
2 cups milk
2 egg whites
6 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream, lightly whipped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together the cookies, salt, and melted butter. Press into a 10" springform pan. Bake until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool.

Place the chopped chocolate, butter, and vanilla extract in a 2-quart mixing bowl; set aside.
In a medium saucepan away from heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, cocoa and salt. Whisk in 1/4 cup of cold heavy cream until the mixture is smooth, with no lumps. Repeat with another 1/4 cup of the cream. Whisk in the egg yolks
Place the saucepan over medium heat, and gradually whisk in the remaining cream and milk.
Bring to a boil, whisking constantly as the mixture thickens; boil for 1 minute
Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture over the reserved chocolate and butter.
Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Pass the filling through a strainer into a bowl to remove any lumps.
Place plastic wrap or buttered parchment paper on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and chill thoroughly.

Heat your broiler to high.
Once the cream and crust are cooled, spread the cream in the crust. 
In a cool metal bowl, beat together the egg whites and the sugar until they form stiff peaks. Fold in the lightly whipped heavy cream. Spread the mixture over the chocolate cream.
Broil the torte just until the meringue is lightly browned. Careful - it will burn quickly (and melt your filling).
Refrigerate until serving.

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