I had originally intended to make cookies with this recipe—or more precisely, walnut squares, with alternating layers of walnut cake, chocolate, and dates. Unfortunately, things did not go quite as planned. I didn’t make quite enough of the walnut cake, and one of the layers I’d had in mind essentially shattered. While the resulting treat was tasty, it wasn’t what I’d originally had in mind.
I realized that I needed to simplify the process. In this recipe, I made a double layer of walnut cake, with layers of chocolate-coffee cream in between and on top. On top of that, I added a splendid whipped cream layer that made the cake look beautiful, luscious, and elegant. To top it all off, I added a crumble consisting of cake segments and walnuts.
The overall taste of this cake is sweet, light, and wonderfully rich. My mother says it is, simply put, one of her favorites that I have ever made—and I have certainly made many!
When developing this recipe, I referred to The Viennese Pastry Cookbook, by Lilly Joss Reich. The recipe that appears below, however, is dramatically altered from that which is found within the pages of this wonderful cookbook.
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons plain bread crumbs
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 cups finely ground walnuts
4 egg whites
4 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup + 4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
Walnut pieces, for decoration
Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until they are pale and creamy, then proceed to add in the bread crumbs, mix again, and then the maple syrup. Finally fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites and 2 cups of the ground walnuts.
Use 2 buttered or heavily non-stick spray coated baking pans which are 8 inch by 8 inch and at least 2 inches high, pouring in an equal amount of the batter into both. Then place them into an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Make sure to monitor to make sure that there is no burning and that it does not become excessively crisp. If one wants, reserve a very small amount of the batter to put into the oven for 15 minutes at the same temperature, as a decoration to go on top. The batter should be edging somewhat away from the sides of the baking pans once done. Let cool and then remove.
To make the chocolate cream, melt together the chocolate with the water, in a small saucepan over low heat. Cream butter and 4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar together with the instant coffee. Then fold in the chocolate, and 1 cup of ground walnuts, and mix until a consistent mixture.
Use a spatula to spread 1/2 of this over the top of one of the cake pieces, then place the other cake piece on top of that. Spread the remaining chocolate mixture over that. Refrigerate until cool and set.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the whipped cream with the vanilla, and 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar until stiff. Then proceed to place it all over the cake, coating it. Proceed to smooth it with a knife until it is decorative and pretty. Place 1/2 walnut pieces over it in a decorative pattern, and if one has chosen, crumble some of the overcooked walnut cake slice on it to give a pretty crumble on top. Refrigerate until serving.
Credits: Ryan Thomas