The funniest thing happened this morning. Last Thursday, I got my camera and lens back, all fixed, just like new!! YAY, right? Well, guess what happened as I was setting up photos for my second and third takes on the Dobos Torte this morning? My cats decided on a game of cat and mouse, and before I could reach for the camera, which was on the table to my right, they came dashing by, knocking it to the hard, wood floor. Lens and camera broken again..but even worse this time. Was I being sarcastic when I used the word funniest? You betcha! I must have used every 4-letter word and every combination of 4 letter words known to man, in a span of about 4 seconds, and then I cried like a baby. UGH, NOT AGAIN! I just paid almost half of what the camera was worth and now the lens was no longer under warranty!
Failure! I was pulling some of the leftover sugar and decided to give my half- eaten Dobos a tail..or whatever you want to call it. Kind of phallic..and weird! Ugly and weird. “Why did I leave it on?” weird.
Now I had to use the old point and shoot camera of yore – so please excuse the photos. In any event, this is why my post is later than usual, but I’ll stop here as I don’t want to waste anymore time kvetching about my dumb luck.
The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
I was pretty excited when I saw it was the Dobos Torte. Layer upon layer of thin genoise (sponge cake), a rich, buttery, chocolate frosting, crispy caramel coated cake, nuts etc..and endless possibilities when it came to flavors and decor. However, I hit THE BLOCK again. Cake Block – similar to my earlier Cheesecake Block, with the addition of flour.
I contacted Audax Artifex (I just found out that was his real name, how cool), and he unblocked me like no one has before (Yes, that does sound quite perverted, doesn’t it?). Well matched palate combos, written out in perfect detail, covering every corner of the flavor spectrum. I already knew I was going to take the fusion route again, but now I knew for sure where I was going to take Hungary to – Asia and Mexico!
I actually made the last two cakes the night before and day of the challenge. I was rushing, so frankly, I wasn’t happy with the aesthetic outcome of any of the three cakes – although they tasted great. I’m going through one of those ruts where my creative juices and execution are sluggish and my kitchen endeavors aren’t endeavoring. I think it’s the dog days of August, the humidity, and the fact that I’m worn out physically from all the knee PT, among other situations that have kept me super busy. I need a good shot of motivation and time!
Before I get into my fused Dobos tortes, I’ll start with the original recipe, which I made last week, prior to getting my camera back. Naturally, I strayed from the norm a little, and baked the sponge in sheet pans, except..it wasn’t a sponge. After 2 hours of intense Physical Therapy, plus working out (Yes, I still owe you all the ‘gym’ story. Next entry, I promise!) AND a VERY bizarre/disturbing phone call,
I was exhausted and completely distracted. In a semi asleep stupor, using the ingredients given to us, I executed the cake as if it were a basic yellow cake. I didn’t separate the eggs, didn’t fold in the flour – just beat everything together in haste..divided the batter into two 10 by 15 sheet pans and slid them into the oven haphazardly. I cut each sheet cake into into 4 rectangles and stacked away. Naturally, I ended up with 7 thick layers with a tight crumb, instead of a thin, light and airy sponge.
I knew I wasn’t making a sponge, yet didn’t care at the time..as long as it was tasty and looked good. It did taste good, but technically, the cake part was not what you would categorize as a Dobos. However, I did execute the caramel coated cake slices (each one ‘torted’ for a thinner slice) properly since I made them the next day with a clearer head and a little more patience. I did NOT add any lemon juice (NO lemon in my caramel, thank you), and instead made more of a toffee coating with butter and almonds so they would actually be edible.
According to some DB’ers, most people left the caramel cake triangles on the side of their plates and/or the caramel was sticky and hard to bite into, chunks of it getting stuck between their teeth. My wedges were ‘heath bar’ crisp and well received. Glad I read about their results prior to making those toppers. At least one facet of the first Dobos worked in my favor! Actually, the buttercream was a hit too, smooth, silky, creamy, and all that good stuff.
I didn’t get my camera and lens back until the next day, so half the cake was eaten before I was able to take photos, as you can plainly see above. I pieced it back together as best I could, and snapped away. So much for half-assed attempts – and a short stint with my camera before it broke again!
Now to the good parts. As mentioned above, I knew I was definitely going to take the Dobos in an Asian direction. Green tea-black sesame sponge, some kind of red bean paste filling, and a light buttercream infused with a little ginger. Of course I used the recipe given to us, adding Matcha powder and black sesame to the sponge and using white chocolate and ginger (I added a chunk of fresh ginger to the the egg mixture while whisking and heating it over the double boiler, then removed it before adding the chocolate and butter) in the buttercream, lightening it up with a little unsweetened whipped cream. I split up the batter and baked it on 12 by 17 sheet pans to insure nice, thin layers.
I suppose I’m feeling rather ‘rectangular’ this month, as a typical round Dobos wasn’t even a crumb on my brain plate. With that said, red bean paste and green tea seem to be a classic combination in many Asian desserts (just check out about 80% of the food blogs for a bounty of creative takes using both). I made the paste myself – going light on the sugar and leaving it slightly chunky, then incorporated it into some of the white chocolate buttercream for easier spreading. I was never one to salivate over any desserts containing red beans or red bean paste, but I have to admit, it was quite tasty. Red bean seems to be as ubiquitous to Asian desserts as chocolate is to American desserts. If you’ve never tried it, please give it a shot!
UGH, back to the very old point and shoot camera. The Green Tea-Black Sesame with Red Bean Paste Filling and Ginger infused White Chocolate Buttercream ‘Dobos Torte’ – with two brittles – Black sesame-white honey and black sesame with a little 5-spice powder.
Finally, the creme de la creme, literally. Miniature Mojito Dobos Tortes cut into whimsical hearts, each layer brushed with white rum simple syrup, filled with dark chocolate-creme de menthe ganache, and piped with white chocolate-lime buttercream. Originally, I was going to go for 6-8 layers, but once I cut into them them, I decided 4 was enough, since they’re so small, and might come apart when cutting, due to the shape.
On another note, I’d like to thank Anula, from Anula’s Kitchen for my second Lovely Blog award..and Laura from Tiramisu for the Kreative Blogger Award. I’ll pass them on and list the ‘7 things about me’ in my next entry!
Since the recipe for the Dobos Torte is REALLY, REALLY, REALLY long, I’m going to send you HERE or HERE to get it. Then again, you can also snag it off most of the Daring Bakers by clicking on the links to their blogs at the Daring Bakers Blogroll . PLUS, you’ll get to see a ton of amazing recreations and unique takes on the Dobos Torte!
Red Bean Paste Filling
2 cups red adzuki beans
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1. Cover beans in cold water and soak uncovered, overnight.
2. Drain, transfer back to the pot and cover in 5 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
3. Drain and puree with a hand blender or in a food processor.
4. Press through a metal sieve. This is a very time consuming process, but if you want a super smooth paste, it’s worth it. I just mashed/pureed them with the skins on because I wanted a slight bite to it. The pureed beans become a thick paste and it takes some time to press through the fine mesh strainer. Clean off the underside as you press, and continue pressing until most of the bean puree passes through and the skins are left behind.
5. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pureed beans and sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to cool.
6. After it has cooled, mix in enough of the ‘white chocolate’ buttercream from the recipe, until it reaches a spreadable consistency. I doubled the buttercream recipe to insure I would have enough for the last two torte preparations.