|March 13th, Coconut Torte Day, begs the question: What is a torte? Is it just a pretentious word for cake, something to make you think the torte is more special than an everyday cake? Nein, mein freund. While torte is the German word for what the British (and Americans) call cake and the French call gâteau, they don’t refer to identical confections. Different cooking traditions led to different styles of baking. British cakes and German tortes (and Italian tortas) are generally hardier creations than delicate French gâteaux. The French, those keen culinarians, went for light, rich, layered affairs stuffed with custard, whipped cream or butter cream, frosted, and decorated with fresh fruit—oh la la, but very perishable. While British culinary tradition created sturdier, longer-lasting pound cakes and fruit cakes, tortes are rich, dense cakes made with many eggs and little or no flour, using ground nuts (and sometimes breadcrumbs) for texture. A torte is thus easily recognizable because it’s much shorter than a cake, one layer and often no more than 2-1/2 inches high (there’s not much, if any, flour to rise). And it’s wider than a cake—10 to 12 inches in diameter compared to an 8-to-9-inch cake. That’s to compensate for the height, so each short wedge will be a good portion.||
We love coconut, but with no time to bake a coconut torte, we’re having an all-chocolate Empire Torte with coconut ice cream.
|“Flourless chocolate cakes” are actually tortes. Some are made with neither flour nor nuts, but just chocolate, sugar, eggs and flavorings, like our favorite Empire Torte, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. It comes in four flavors: Original plus Caramel, Orange and Raspberry. There’s no coconut, but you can have a scoop of coconut ice cream or sorbet on the side, and celebrate Coconut Torte Day in high style. For more cakes, tortes and gateaux, visit the Gourmet Cakes Section of THE NIBBLE online magazine.|
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