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Our friends Adri and Tedd invited us to their new house for dinner, and to make it easy on the chef, I made dessert. In one of the recent Food and Wine magazines, I saw an amazing cake that had 7 layers with chocolate buttercream filling, and a beautiful caramelized meringue frosting. Every time I see some crazy dessert, I always get an itch to make it. This time I can dedicate my full attention to it, instead if having a whole dinner to cook like I usually do.

The Dobos torte is a famous Hungarian dessert which originated as a 5 layer cake with chocolate buttercream frosting, and thin caramel layer between each layer. This is one of those “Wow!” desserts that taste amazing as well. the cake is time consuming, but it can be made ahead of time and definitely worth the effort.

Since I was only making dessert for 5, I reduced the recipe by half. The cake is made mostly of sugar and eggs, with just a little but of flour to give it structure. To make the cake, egg whites and powdered sugar are beaten together along with vanilla and a little bit of salt in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until the peaks are stiff and glossy.

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Transfer the meringue into another bowl; clean and throughly dry the mixer bowl. Add egg yolks, powdered sugar, flour, and milk to the mixer.

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Beat the mixture until smooth, about 3 minutes.

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Add about 1/4 of the meringue into the mixer and beat to lighten, about a minute.

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Gently fold in the remaining meringue, careful not to deflate.

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Pour the batter into a lined and floured half sheet cake pan. Smooth the top to create an even layer.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cake is golden and set. Remove cake from oven and let cool to room temperature.

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While the cake is cooling, I made the chocolate buttercream filling. Egg yolks, sugar, and salt are whisked together in a medium bowl until pale.

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Heat the half and half with the cocoa powder in a medium sauce pan, whisking to blend, over medium heat until hot.

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Gradually whisk the hot cocoa into the egg yolk and sugar.

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Return the mixture to the pan over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.

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Pour the hot mixture over chopped bittersweet chocolate and let stand until melted, then whisk until smooth.

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Set the chocolate mixture aside and cool to room temperature. In a clean stand mixer bowl, best the butter until creamy and fluffy, then beat in the cooled chocolate.

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To assemble the cake, invert the cake onto a large sheet of wax paper.

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Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake, and divide the cake into 8 equal sections. Remember that I’m only making half the recipe, so if you follow the entire recipe, your cake will be wider and longer.

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Start with one section of the cake, frost using the butter cream, and repeat until you have seven layers. The last layer is left out but there is no reason why this can’t be an eight layer Dobos torte.

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I found that you can hide a lot of the uneven-ness of the cake with enough buttercream frosting. Cover the cake top and sides with frosting, and set in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

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To make the meringue outer frosting, cook the sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a small sauce pan over medium high heat until the sugar comes to 240F. I used a instant read thermometer to determine the temperature, and you can get one for about $10-$14 from Target. They are a great investment for desserts and meats.

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While the sugar is cooking, beat egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer with salt over medium high speed until soft peaks form.

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Once the sugar syrup reaches the right temperature, with the mixer on, slowly pour the hot sugar into the egg whites. Be careful with the hot sugar syrup, as it can burn you. Turn the mixer to high and beat until the meringue is stiff and cooled to room temperature.

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I’ve noticed in making meringues that the mixture in the bottom of the bowl will be loose and not the right consistency, so for this cake, I frosted the cake as much as I could with the good meringue, then I beat the remaining meringue again for a few minutes before frosting the rest of the cake.

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Once the entire cake is covered, layer dollops of frosting on the top side of the cake.

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Make spikes on the meringue with a spatula or fork.

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Use a hand torch, brown the meringue spikes all over.

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Refrigerate the cake at least 1 hour before serving.

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Seven Layer Dobos Torte

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