Dobos Torte with a Quark Chocolate Mousse

Recipe from What's For Lunch, Honey?  

Sponge Cake Layers

  • 6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together
  • pinch of salt

Quark Chocolate Mousse

  • 200g dark chocolate, I used one with 75% cocoa solids, roughly chopped
  • 150g quark, hung overnight
  • 100g heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Caramel topping

  • 1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (180 ml) water
  • 4 teaspoons soft butter
  • 1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)
  • Hazelnuts (optional)

Directions for the sponge layers: Sticky Note 1 workahead

The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.

  1. Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).

  2. Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter).

  3. Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)

  4. In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving a few wisps of white visible.

  5. Combine the flour and salt. Sift half the flour over the eggs, and fold in; repeat with the remaining flour.

  6. Line one of the baking sheets with a circle-marked paper. Using a small offset spatula, spread about 3/4cup of the batter in an even layer, filling in the traced circle on one baking sheet. Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes, until the cake springs back when pressed gently in the centre and the edges are lightly browned. While this cake bakes, repeat the process on the other baking sheet, placing it on the centre rack.

  7. When the first cake is done, move the second cake to the top rack. Invert the first cake onto a flat surface and carefully peel off the paper. Slide the cake layer back onto the paper and let stand until cool. Rinse the baking sheet under cold running water to cool, and dry it before lining with another parchment. Continue with the remaining papers and batter to make a total of six layers. Completely cool the layers. Using an 8" springform pan bottom or plate as a template, trim each cake layer into a neat round. (A small serrated knife is best for this task).

Directions of Quark Chocolate Mousse filling:

  1. Melt the chocolate and honey together over a water bath.

  2. Whisk in the quark and mix energetically until well incorporated.

  3. Using a rubber spatula gently fold in the whipped cream then place in the fridge for 2 hours to thicken.

Directions for the caramel topping:

  1. Choose the best-looking cake layer for the caramel top. To make the caramel topping: Line a jellyroll pan with parchment paper and butter the paper. Place the reserved cake layer on the paper. Score the cake into  equal wedges (I got 8 wedges). Lightly oil a thin, sharp knife and an offset metal spatula.

  2. Stir the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved into a smooth syrup, turn the heat up to high and boil without stirring, swirling the pan by the handle occasionally and washing down any sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet brush until the syrup has turned into an amber-colored caramel. Take off heat and add butter. Swirl the saucepan gently to incorporate the butter.

  3. The top layer is perhaps the hardest part of the whole cake so make sure you have a oiled, hot offset spatula ready. It also helps if the cake layer has not just been taken out of the refrigerator if you made them ahead of time. The cake layer will be cold and the toffee might set very quickly, which may make it difficult to spread.
    Immediately pour all of the hot caramel over the cake layer. Using the offset spatula, quickly spread the caramel evenly to the edge of the cake layer. Let cool until beginning to set, about 30 seconds. Using the tip of the hot oiled knife (keep re-oiling this with a pastry brush between cutting), cut through the scored marks to divide the caramel layer into equal wedges.

  4. Cool another minute or so, then use the edge of the knife to completely cut and separate the wedges using one firm slice movement (rather than rocking back and forth which may produce toffee strands). Cool completely.

Sticky Note 1 tipstricks Cut, rather than score the cake layer into wedges before covering in caramel (reform them into a round). If you have an 8” silicon round form, place the wedges in that for easy removal later. It also ensures that the caramel stays on the cake layer. Once set, use a very sharp knife to separate the wedges.

Assembling the Dobos

  1. Divide the mousse into six equal parts.

  2. Place a dab of the mousse on the middle of a 7 1/2” cardboard round and top with one cake layer. Spread the layer with one part of the chocolate mousse. Repeat with 4 more cake layers. Spread the remaining mousse on the sides of the cake. 

  3. Propping a hazelnut under each wedge so that it sits at an angle, arrange the wedges on top of the cake in a spoke pattern. As an alternative you can just place the wedges flat on the cake and decorate.

  4. Refrigerate the cake under a cake dome until the icing is set, about 3 hours, preferably overnight. Let slices come to room temperature for the best possible flavor.

Storage

As the mousse needs to be kept cool for perfect texture and quality it is best to keep in the fridge, covered in the glass dome. It should keep for 2-3 days.