Chocolate Delirium Torte
This is a very rich, delicate, melt-in-your-mouth torte, hence it is the source of many fantasies and yes, even delirium. The only reason this dessert needs to be baked is to cook the eggs. Wrapping the pan with foil may seem complicated, but it is very easy, and you will make this torte over and over. It is most easily handled when it is very cold. I put mine in the freezer for a day before removing it from the pan.
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, in chips or small pieces
1 vanilla bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) F. Grease or spray a 9- or 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom with nonstick spray and wrap the outside and bottom with aluminum foil so the bottom is water tight. If you have no tart pan, line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate with parchment paper or very smoothly with aluminum foil.
Lightly beat the eggs and stir them into the melted chocolate mixture. Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart pan, cover with foil, and set it in a heavy roasting pan. Pour hot tap water into the roasting pan halfway up the sides of the tart pan to create a bain-marie and place it in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and uncover it.
The torte will be a soft batter that will solidify when cold. Let it cool to room temperature on a wire rack, and then cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate or freeze at least 2 hours. Release the sides of tart pan. You can freeze the well-wrapped torte at this point for up to 3 months.
To make the whipped cream garnish, split a vanilla bean with a paring knife and scrape the seeds into a cold mixer bowl with the heavy cream and sugar. Start on low speed, slowly increase the speed, and beat on high speed until firm but be careful not to let it separate. If using vanilla extract instead of the bean, beat it in at the end. Refrigerate. (The tiny brown flecks, the seeds of a vanilla bean, give the whipped cream a "homemade" look.)
When ready to serve, cut the still cold or even frozen torte into 8 pieces with a hot, wet non-serrated knife. (Clean the knife in hot water after each cut.) The torte will defrost rapidly and is best moved when frozen. Place 1 wedge of frozen torte on a plate. Place 1 heaping Tbsp of whipped cream on the torte. Garnish with edible flowers, fresh berries, or chocolate curls.
Yield: Serves 8
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