The tricks and treats are done. Plenty of mini pumpkins, princesses, ghosts and goblins came to my door this evening, one cuter than the next! And now that the candy is all gone, it’s hard to believe that October comes to an end this evening.

My favourite month of the year, it arrives with so much expectation and I find that as I get older, it passes by faster and faster. Was it a good month? I would say yes. Certainly it was busy and even a tad stressful at times. But overall, it has been a month to fully welcome the Fall with apple pies, chestnuts, falling leaves and warm, cozy sweaters.

I will admit, however, that October was helped along by Tish Boyle’s The Cake Book. I chose to feature it as the Flavour of the Month for October 2006 because as soon as I received my copy, I couldn’t put it down.

I tried my hand at recipes in each major section of the cookbook including pound cakes and cheesecakes. I tried recipes that were very straightforward and even a few that were quite involved. Through it all, I was not disappointed even once. This is a cookbook to cherish for years. If you have the chance, I certainly hope that you’ll pick up a copy and at least look through it. Like me, I think you’ll fall for it pretty quickly.

Because of the chilly nights we’ve been experiencing, I decided to end October with a recipe from The Cake Book that would take a bit of the chill off:  a chocolate torte with walnuts and Cognac. While I’m not the biggest Cognac fan around, this torte was almost impossible to resist. Dense, chocolaty, nutty and smooth, the warmth of the Cognac was the perfect touch.

So as I sit here, enjoying a slice of this moist and sumptuous torte, I wish you a Happy Halloween! See you in November …


Chocolate Torte with Walnuts and Cognac

Adapted from The Cake Book by Tish Boyle.

For the torte:

  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (I used a 70% dark chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup Cognac
  • 2 tbsp. hot water
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/3 cup icing sugar
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. natural cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the parchment paper and the sides of the pan.
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine the walnuts and icing sugar. Process until the walnuts are finely chopped and the the mixture is powdery. Set aside.
  4. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate with the Cognac and hot water. Once melted, stir until mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
  5. Combine the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Sift and set aside.
  6. With an electric mixer, cream the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar until light and creamy (2 to 3 minutes).
  7. With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg yolks, one at a time. Scrape down the side of the bowl to ensure that the batter is well-mixed.
  8. Add the vanilla extract and the chocolate mixture and combine for a minute or two until smooth.
  9. In another bowl, with a whisk or with an electric mixer and the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until slightly foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form.
  10. Slowly add the remaining sugar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  11. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate batter.
  12. Fold 1/3 of the walnut/icing sugar mixture into the chocolate batter.
  13. Fold the remaining egg whites and walnut/icing sugar mixture into the batter. Work carefully so as not to deflate the batter too much.
  14. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  15. Bake for 40 minutes. Test the cake with a cake tester. When you insert it in the middle of the cake, it should come out fairly clean, with a few crumbs clinging to the tester.
  16. Once the cake is done, let it cool on a wire rack. After an hour or so, carefully loosen the ring from the pan.
  17. Once the cake is completely cook, you can brush it with the cognac syrup if you choose.

For the syrup:

  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. Cognac
  1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small pan. Stir to ensure that the sugar is dissolved and then remove from the heat.
  2. Once the mixture has cooled, stir in the Cognac. You can add more Cognac if you like.
  3. If you choose, brush the cooled syrup over the cooled cake.

For the final assembly:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  1. Whip the cream in an electric mixer until stiff.
  2. Dollop the cream on the cake and then dust lightly with cocoa powder.
  3. Enjoy!

Note:  This is a fairly involved cake, but it’s worth the effort. Once the torte is done, you can brush it with a cognac syrup or a simple syrup, but you don’t have to.

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