Say hello to the richest cake I’ve ever made. Really, I know I’ve made some doozies in the past, but I think this one takes the cake (pun intended). Ben’s birthday was a couple of weeks ago, and when I asked him what sort of cake he would like, he said anything would be fine and I could choose. I immediately began scouring my ridiculously long list of recipes to try but I didn’t get very far when I saw this cake. Ben just loves toffee so I knew this would be the perfect thing. Plus, I made him a different brownie torte last year for his birthday and that went over very well.
So, what’s the big deal about this cake? It consists of three layers of fudge brownie sandwiched with espresso mascarpone filling which is then frosted with an espresso whipped cream and coated in toffee bits. And for starters, just the brownie layers alone call for a pound of butter, a pound of chocolate, and eight eggs. I think Paula Deen just gasped. After I got over the initial shock of the ingredient list, I decided to just go for it. I knew it would be served at a large family gathering so there would be plenty of people to help eat it. It really is every bit as delicious and rich as you might imagine. It seemed like the house was filled with moans, groans, “mmm’s” and “yums” all throughout dessert. Even after our fairly large crowd was all served, there was close to half the cake left. Trust me, only a very thin sliver is plenty.
Despite its looks and multiple components, this comes together pretty easily. There is no need for frosting it very carefully since the whole thing ends up covered in toffee bits. You can use whatever technique works for you to get the toffee bits on the sides. Personally I prefer a Jackson Pollock-style approach because it’s just so fun, and then I fill in the holes with a little more care. It makes quite a giant mess but it’s worth it :)
Toffee Bar Brownie Torte
Yield: about 20 servings
For the brownies:
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
16 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 cups sugar
8 large eggs
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. salt
For the frosting:
3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 tsp. boiling water, chilled
For the filling:
16 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp. instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 tsp. boiling water
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup reserved frosting (above)
2 cups chopped toffee bits or finely chopped toffee bars
To make the brownie layers, preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Grease and flour the edges of three 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Combine the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a few inches of simmering water. Continue heating until the butter and chocolate are melted and smooth, stirring occasionally with a spatula. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large mixing bowl. (If your heatproof bowl is very large, transfer to a new bowl is not necessary.) Whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until the mixture is smooth and glossy, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour and salt, and mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared baking pans. Gently smooth the batter in the pans. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the brownies are just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pans 30 minutes. Then run a knife around the edge of each pan and invert the brownies onto the rack to cool completely.
To make the frosting, add the chilled heavy cream to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high speed until medium-soft peaks form. Blend in the sugar, vanilla and espresso mixture, whipping just until combine. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Reserve and refrigerate 1 cup of the frosting for use in the filling. Set aside the rest of the frosting.
To make the filling, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the mascarpone, espresso liquid, sugar, vanilla and salt. Beat on medium speed until well blended and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gently fold in the reserved 1 cup of frosting with a spatula.
To assemble the torte, lay 1 of the brownie rounds to a large serving platter. Spread half of the filling mixture evenly over the top. Layer with another brownie round, and the remainder of the filling. Top with the final brownie layer. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the frosting. Garnish with the toffee bits to cover the top and sides of the cake. Use any remaining frosting to pipe decorative swirls around the top edge of the cake, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Source: The Pastry Queen by Rebecca Rather