This torte looked just as beautiful and complicated---and it was surprisingly easy! I followed her idea to use bittersweet chocolate, but didn't read the amount right and so only bought 1 bar of Scharffenberger 70% instead of two. I ended up mixing semi-sweet chocolate chips and bittersweet chocolate--this worked just fine, but the sweetness of the chocolate overpowered the macaroon a little.
- 2 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces or 300 grams) slivered almonds (or an equivalent weight of blanched, sliced or already ground almonds)
- 1 c plus 3 tbs sugar
- 2 large pinches kosher salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 6 large egg whites
- 1/2 c water
- 1/2 c sugar
- 1/2 tsp orange oil or extract
- 20 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70-72%), chopped
- 1 c sliced almonds, toasted (at 350 degrees for 7 to 9 minutes on a tray, stirring once or twice)
Position an oven rack in the top and lower third of oven and preheat oven to 325°F. Draw two 12 x 4-inch rectangles, spacing 2 inches apart (I like Deb, have a smallish oven--I used the 3 3/4 x 11-inch rectangles!) on a piece of parchment paper, then two more of the same size on a second sheet. In total, you’ll use 2 sheets of parchment paper and draw 4 rectangles. Turn each sheet of parchment over (so your ink or pencil lines don’t seep into the macaroon). There is no need to spray with oil, though if you are really worried about sticking you can (I used a flat metal spatula to help lift mine off after it was cool--I had no problems there!)
Place almonds, 1 cup sugar and coarse salt in a food processor and blend until finely ground.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in large, dry bowl with clean beaters (or a whisk attachment) until soft peaks form. Drizzle in vanilla extract, then slowly add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Beat until stiff but not dry. Fold nut mixture into egg whites. Spread 1/4 of macaroon batter evenly within each rectangle, filling completely.
Bake macaroon layers until golden and almost firm to the touch in the center, reversing sheets halfway through — this took a total of 23 minutes in my oven as well as Deb's; the original recipe (from Bon Appetit) says it can take up to 40.
Cool macaroons on their sheets on a cooling rack.
Make the frosting as the macaroons are cooling:
Simmer 1/2 cup of water and sugar in a medium saucepan until sugar dissolves. Measure 10 tablespoons from this and save it for another use (I ran out of frosting as I spread mine too thick so I used this to make more!). Put the 10 tablespoons syrup back in the saucepan and add the orange extract (or other extract of your choice). Bring the syrup back to a boil and add chocolate to the saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until smooth. This should yield a medium-thick frosting, good for spreading. If yours is on the thin side, you can let it cool for 5 or 10 minutes until it is a good spreading consistency.
Trim your macaroon layers back to their intended rectangular sizes — for me, a sharp knife worked just fine.
Place one macaroon layer on a long platter. (Slip little pieces of parchment or waxed paper under the edges will help keep your platter clean; pull them out when you’re done frosting the torte.) Spread some frosting evenly over (my suggestion: after adding the frosting, spread a thin later or raspberry jam, and more sliced almonds). Top with another macaroon layer. Spread more frosting evenly over, and repeat process one more time. I had extra edges that were enough to make a 5th layer, but I also trimmed my macaroons to 9" in length rather than their original 11" so that they would fit on my pretty new platter! Top with the last macaroon layer, flat side up. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of torte. Press sliced almonds onto sides of torte.
To make the hearts on top, cut a strip of parchment paper at least the length and width of the cake. Make a cutout of a heart (I used the same cutout so all the hearts would be the same. Crush some of the slivered almonds, and sprinkle them through the cutout. Repeat until you have the three hearts!
An extra reason to make this torte: this recipe also happens to be dairy-free, gluten-free, and kosher for Passover (my next opportunity to make it again!).