Torta Regina Cake  Recipe
Torta Regina Cake

by Wolfgang Puck

In my restaurants, my pastry chefs are in charge of planning spectacular desserts for every meal and every occasion.

No matter how busy I get with the rest of the meal, there will always be something wonderful to serve at the end.

Home cooks aren't so lucky.

When a big meal comes around, like Christmas dinner or New Year's Eve, they don't have pastry chefs to rely on -- unless, of course, they order dessert ahead to pick up from their favorite restaurant or shop.

You'd be surprised, though, how many times I hear people complain that they got so preoccupied planning the rest of a meal that they forgot about dessert almost completely, or until the last minute.

The solution, of course, is to have at the ready an easy-to-make dessert you can put together quickly with ingredients found in most pantries and refrigerators, yet one that delivers great results.

That's why I'm so happy to share my recipe for Torta Regina.

Literally "Queen's Cake," it is one of the most luxurious, intense-tasting desserts you can imagine, a cross between a flourless cake and a chocolate truffle.

And, believe it or not, you only need four ingredients -- shelled hazelnuts, bittersweet chocolate, eggs, and granulated sugar -- plus a little confectioner's sugar if you want to decorate it before serving.

And the only tasks involved are toasting and skinning hazelnuts, separating eggs, and beating first the egg yolks and then the egg whites with sugar before you fold everything together.

A hand-held electric mixer will do the beating fine; just be sure to clean the beaters thoroughly before you beat the egg whites, so that no traces of fat from the yolks will prevent air from being incorporated into the whites.

To toast and skin the nuts, simply spread them out on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking dish and roast them in a 350 degrees F oven until they are fragrant and golden, and their skins begin to peel and flake, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the nuts to a heatproof dish to cool for about 10 minutes, leaving the oven on; then, fold the nuts inside a clean kitchen towel and rub them with the towel to remove the skins. Transfer the nuts to a clean bowl to cool completely, and carefully shake the skins into the sink or the trash.

Once the nuts and chocolate have been chopped and all the ingredients have been combined, the torte takes just 20 minutes or so to bake. Then, leave it at cool room temperature until fully cooled before serving.

The result: a sensational dessert your guests will rave about.

And you don't even have to tell them that you almost forgot to make it!

Torta Regina Cake Recipe

Serves 8 to 10

Recipe Ingredients

8 ounces hazelnuts, roasted and peeled

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces

8 cage-free eggs, separated

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Confectioner's sugar, for serving

Recipe Preparation

Butter a round cake pan 10 inches in diameter and 2 inches high.

Put the cooled nuts in a food processor fitted with the stainless-steel blade. Pulse the machine on and off until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Transfer the nuts to a bowl. Add chocolate pieces to the processor and pulse the machine until the chocolate is coarsely chopped. Add it to the chopped nuts.

In a mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer on medium speed to beat the egg yolks and half of the sugar until they are light lemon-colored and form a ribbon when the beaters are lifted out.

In another mixing bowl, use absolutely clean beaters to beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until they form soft peaks that droop when the beaters are lifted out. While continuing to beat them, slowly sprinkle in the remaining sugar, beating until they form stiff peaks that hold their shape when the beaters are lifted out.

Using a rubber spatula, fold the nuts and chocolate into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold a large dollop of the egg white mixture into the chocolate-yolk mixture, just until streaks remain. Then, gently fold the remaining egg whites into the mixture until fully incorporated.

Using the spatula, fill the cake pan with the batter, gently smoothing its surface. Bake until center feels springy when lightly and quickly touched, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. To serve, cut into wedges and transfer to individual plates. Dust with confectioner's sugar, spooning the sugar into a small, fine-meshed sieve and tapping it over each portion.


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