Helga’s Cake (Gluten Free Kosher for Passover Pecan Torte with Chocolate Frosting)

Okay, ignore the lazy piping on top of the cake. Here is what you need to focus on: the chocolate frosting is luscious, easy to make and kosher for Passover. It is worth making for any cake, but pairs especially well with the original pecan layers.

This is Helga’s cake, Gesine Bullock Prado’s mother’s famous pecan torte. The last time I made it, I doubled the recipe, and this time I cut the recipe in half. The full recipe makes three 9″ layers. Cut in half, it makes one cute 6″ cake. You could also make the full recipe and make two 6″ cakes–one for now and another to freeze for the end of Yom Tov. Using small foil tins works perfectly, so no need to buy special cake pans.


Helga’s cake, miniaturized
Adapted from Gesine Bullock-Prado. Double the recipe for the original 9″ cake size.

Put the nuts, sugar and salt in a food processor and process until it is ground to a fine meal:
6 ounces pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt

Add the yolks and whole egg, plus the vanilla and baking powder to the ground nuts and process until you have a smooth paste:
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder

In a large bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks, then gradually add the remaining sugar, whipping until stiff and shiny:
4 egg whites (save yolks for frosting)
1/4 sugar

Put the nut paste from the food processor into another large bowl. Fold in a portion of the whites (large blob) to lighten the nut mixture a bit and to make it easier to incorporate the rest of the whites. Fold in the rest of the whites (gently!).

Spread the batter evenly in three 6″ pans (you can use small round foil pans) that are lined with greased parchment paper. Spread the batter to an even thickness (the batter does not flow and even itself out, but stays where it is put). Bake it at 325 degrees until the top is springy. (I don’t have in my notes how long that took. The original recipe called for baking in three 9″ pans for 30-45 minutes.  My layers were done at about 25 minutes, so check on the layers at that point. The cake will be springy on top. If you shake the pan and the batter sloshes underneath the crust or isn’t bouncing back when you press on it, it isn’t done, give it more time.

Chocolate  Frosting
This frosting has a fabulous intense chocolate texture, and it spreads like a dream. This makes half the amount of the original recipe (which was for a triple 9″ layer cake), but I think it would be enough to cover the top of a 9×13 tin of cake.

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Alprose baking chocolate, which comes in a 10 ounce bar)
4 yolks (saved from above cake recipe)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup hot coffee
1 stick margarine (4 ounces, 1/2 cup)

The original recipe called for putting the chocolate, yolks and vanilla in a blender and adding the hot coffee in a slow stream while running the blender. Then the margarine is added in bits to the running blender until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

I don’t have a blender for Passover, plus I was a little worried about the raw yolks. I melted the chocolate and coffee in a bowl set over a pot of hot water. Then I mixed in the yolks and continued to stir over the heat until the mixture was heated through. At this point it was rather pudding-ish. Then I put the melted chocolate mixture and margarine in a food processor and pulsed until it all came together. I think an immersion blender would have worked, too. The margarine made the mixture lighten in color somewhat and have a more delicate texture.

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