French Silk Torte

serves 12-16

For the Crust

3/4 cup pecans, toasted in a 300º F oven for 20 minutes

1 cup walnuts, toasted in a 300º F oven for 20 minutes

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

8 Tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted

Pinch of Kosher salt

For the Filling

1 1/4 pounds semisweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)

12 Tablespoons ( 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

6 extra large eggs

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Topping

1 cup heavy cream

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

For the Crust

Line a 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper; set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pecans, walnuts, and brown sugar and pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped.  Pour the nut mixture into a medium bowl, add the butter and salt, and stir until the nuts are evenly moistened.  Press the nut mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until set.

For the Filling

Melt the chocolate and espresso in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  While the chocolate is melting, combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute.  Switch to the whip attachment and add the eggs, two at a time, mixing well after each addition; scrape down the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip until well blended, about 2 minutes (the mixture will look curdled).

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and stir until smooth and warm but not hot.  With the mixer on low, add the chocolate to the egg mixture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix on low speed until the chocolate is fully incorporated.  Add the cream and vanilla and mix until blended.  Spread the filling over the crust and refrigerate until firm, about 3 hours.  The torte can be made and refrigerated 2 days in advance.

For the Topping

In a chilled bowl, whisk together the cream and sugar until soft peaks form.  Using an off-set spatula, spread the topping over the chilled filling (torte can be refrigerated for up to 2 hours at this point).  When ready to serve, run a hot, dry knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the torte, remove the pan sides and transfer the torte to a serving platter.  Slice the torte with a hot, dry knife and serve chilled.  Enjoy!

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