I highly recommend you make this torte.
If you do, I also recommend that you:
- Make *absolutely* sure that the layers are 100% cool before moving on to the filling/frosting.
- Chill your filling while the layers are cooling.
Otherwise – you may end up with a hot mess of sliding layers and oozing filling, like I did.
Hot mess or not, this show-stopping dessert is a chocolate-espresso-toffee lover’s dream: Three layers of rich brownie are separated by a creamy espresso-flavored mascarpone filling, and then topped with a fluffy espresso-whipped cream frosting. The outside of the cake is covered in toffee bits, which I mixed with chocolate and toasted almonds.
Again – just be sure to allow your brownie layers to cool completely! It may take longer than the time allotted in the recipe. I waited an extra 10 minutes because I used 8-inch cake pans rather than 9, and they felt cool to the touch – but evidently it wasn’t enough. The filling is so delicate, it should probably chill in the fridge while you wait for the layers to cool; I let mine sit out, which may have led to this beautiful torte’s demise.
The recipe also calls for chopped toffee bars to be placed on the outside of the cake. I had some extra toffee bits to use, so I combined them with some chocolate and toasted almond slices and gave the mixture a few pulses in the food processor. It was delicious, but after seeing how pretty the cake looks with the larger toffee pieces, I’d definitely go that route next time.
Toffee Bar Brownie Torte
From The Pastry Queen Cookbook, by Rebecca Rather
For the brownies:
- 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
- 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3 cups sugar
- 8 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
For the frosting:
- 3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
- 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 teaspoons boiling water, chilled
For the filling:
- 16 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 2 teaspoons boiling water
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup reserved frosting (above)
- 2 cups chopped toffee bits or chopped toffee bars
To make the brownie layers: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 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.