Garash cake – layers of walnut meringue and rich dark chocolate cream, enveloped in silky chocolate ganache – the ultimate chocolate lover’s cake, perfect for a special occasion!
Happy New Year dear friends!! I hope it’s full of excitement, adventure and unforgettable memories, but most of all, I hope 2016 brings love and peace!
It’s been a great holiday season but after a non-stop eating, drinking and partying the last 10 days I feel overstuffed and overindulged. My whole body is screaming for something light, fresh, and healthy. Alas, it’s not going to happen for at least another month, as January is packed with birthdays and celebrations!
For us the New Year always starts with a bang. We’ve hardly recovered from the New Year’s Eve festivities, and my husband’s birthday is already around the corner. It comes so fast that I usually shop for his Christmas and birthday presents at the same time. His is the first in a long row of birthdays, not only in the family, but in our circle of friends as well! So the party goes on my friends, the drinking and eating will not stop, and my freshly renewed gym vows and New Year’s resolutions will have to wait till February when we finally begin to ease back to our normal lives.
And today, instead of giving you a healthy salad recipe that I so much crave, I will give you cake!
One thing I always do for my family birthdays is homemade cake. The problem is, I always make up a recipe on the go, and never write it down, or remember it for future reference. It’s usually a combination of ideas from different recipes, and the whole cake recipe exists only temporary in my head.
This year for once, I am making something special, and following a recipe precisely. It’s a super delicious, flour-less, walnut chocolate cake that goes by the name of Torta Garash, or Garash cake. Rich and decadent, this is the ultimate cake, or the most famous cake in the Bulgarian cuisine, and we only had it at very special occasions.
Today is such a special occasion, and it definitely calls for Torta Garash. Alternating layers of thin walnut meringue crust and intense chocolate cream, enveloped in silky chocolate ganache – it’s a chocolate lover’s dream come true!
Despite its sophisticated taste and looks, the cake is pretty simplistic. It’s made of just a few ingredients – walnuts, egg whites and chocolate, and is easier to make than most cakes. It takes a bit of time because you need to bake the cake layers separately. The good news is, they bake fast, in 10-12 minutes each, as they are only 2-3 mm thin. If you have more than one cake form, you can save some time and bake them simultaneously.
It’s best to set a timer when you bake the cakes, because 10 minutes go by pretty quickly, and if you are like me, you don’t just sit by the stove and wait. It’s important to not overcook the cake, but leave it slightly moist. If you cook it longer it may become crispy, which you don’t want in this case.
There are quite a few variations of the recipe using butter and cacao powder, instead of real chocolate, or mixing egg yolks in the chocolate cream. After quite some research, I think I came upon the purest Garash cake recipe.
Rumor has it that over 100 years ago, there was a Czech restaurant in Sofia, where a Hungarian chef, by the name of Garash invented this recipe. The cake was such a hit that it quickly reached popularity in the rest of the country, and became one of the few signature Bulgarian cuisine recipes, proudly served at the most prestigious restaurants and events.
The version that I made is supposedly passed by one of the original chefs of Sheraton hotel, who might have lived at the time of its invention.
Traditionally, the cake is garnished only with green-dyed chopped almonds ( I assume for the stark contrast of colors). But the thought of using an artificial dye in my food just makes me cringe, and I therefore used a more natural green – chopped pistachios.
Despite the lack of flour, this cake is very rich and quite filling – the thinnest slice will leave you satisfied. It is not too sweet, but has an intense dark chocolate and nutty flavor. It’s just pure chocolate bliss! Sweet cooking everyone!
- For the cake:
- 6 egg whites
- 250 g walnuts
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tbs flour
- For the chocolate filling cream:
- 250 g dark chocolate
- 200 g whipping cream
- 75 g (about ⅓ cup) sugar
- For the chocolate ganache:
- 100 g dark chocolate
- 1 tbs avocado or grape seed oil
- To make the chocolate cream:
- Melt the chocolate over a double boiler.
- Heat the cream with the sugar until the sugar dissolves and add the cream to the melted chocolate. Mix well until the cream is fully incorporated and leave to cool in the fridge while you bake the cake layers. Just before assembling the cake, take out the chocolate cream filling and whip whip for a few minutes until fluffy.
- To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 320 °F (160 °C).
- In a food processor blend the walnuts and powdered sugar together (to prevent the walnuts from releasing their oil and becoming a walnut butter) and process until you have a very finely ground walnut meal
- Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy but not stiff (to prevent the cake from getting hard and crumbly)
- Add the walnuts and sugar meal to the egg whites, add the flour, and mix lightly by hand.
- Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch cake form with parchment paper and brush it well with a neutral tasting oil like avocado, grape seed or sunflower oil
- Pour ¼ of the batter in the parchment lined cake form base, and spread out evenly until you get 2-3 mm thick layer. Bake the first layer for 10-12 min.
- Repeat the above step 3 more times for a total of 4 cake layers.
- Assemble the cake:
- Separate about ⅓ of the chocolate cream filling to use for covering the sides of the cake. Use the remaining cream to spread between the cake layers.
- Place a cake layer at the bottom of your spring form, and cover liberally with chocolate cream.
- Repeat the above step with the remaining 3 cake layers and finish with chocolate cream.
- Use the ⅓ of the chocolate cream to cover the sides.
- Place the cake in the fridge for a bit so the chocolate hardens.
- Make the chocolate ganache:
- Melt the chocolate over a double boiler then slowly add 1 tbs of oil and mix until the oil is incorporated. This will give the ganache its glossy look.
- Once the cake cools, pour the ganache over the top and the sides, and garnish with chopped pistachios, or other nuts