Ilona Torte

  • Serves

    serves 8

Restaurateur George Lang named this torte after his mother and his daughter; this is our adaptation of the recipe from his Cuisine of Hungary (Wings Books, 1994).


For the Torte

  • 5 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • 8 eggs, separated
  • 12 lb. shelled walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. white bread crumbs
  • Flour

For the Icing

  • 12 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee
  • 12 lb. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 34 cup coarsely chopped walnuts


Step 1

For the torte: Preheat oven to 375°. Melt chocolate with sugar and 1⁄4 cup water in a medium, heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth, about 5 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. Beat butter and egg yolks in a medium bowl until light and creamy. Stir in chocolate mixture.

Step 2

Grind walnuts in small batches in a food mill, coffee grinder, or food processor until they reach a very fine consistency. (If using a food processor, only pulse lightly so nuts don't become walnut butter.) Stir ground walnuts into chocolate mixture. Add bread crumbs and stir until mixed. Whip egg whites in a medium bowl until soft, stiff peaks appear—stop before peaks begin to look dry. Gently beat in one-third of the egg whites to lighten the batter. Then use a large balloon whisk to carefully "fold" in remaining whites in 2 batches, mixing just enough to make a light batter.

Step 3

Butter two 9'' cake pans. Dust each with flour and shake out excess. Divide batter between pans, smoothing tops with spatula. Bake 20–25 minutes. Remove from oven and invert torte layers onto wire racks to cool.

Step 4

For the icing: Warm cream in a small heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir in instant coffee until dissolved. Add chocolate and melt, stirring constantly until smooth and shiny. Remove from heat to cool.

Step 5

Place 1 torte layer on a plate and spread with one-third of the icing. Cover with other layer and spread the top and sides with remaining icing. Sprinkle chopped walnuts around sides and edges of torte and serve.

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