Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte

This recipe, from Helen Guggemos of Winsted, won first place in the dessert competition of a bake sale at Holy Trinity Catholic Church during the 1998 Winsted Winter Festival:

Torte layers

9 eggs

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup golden rum

1/2 pound shelled hazelnuts, ground (about 2 1/2 cups)

Filling

1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

1 1/4 cups sweet butter, softened

1/4 cup golden rum

3 egg yolks

4 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

Frosting

2 squares unsweetened chocolate

2 T. butter

1 cup confectioner's sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

10 whole, shelled hazelnuts

1 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts

Torte layers: Separate 9 eggs, putting whites in large bowl of electric mixer and yolks in small bowl. Let whites warm to room temperature.

2. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottoms of 3 (9-inch) layer pans with waxed paper.

3. With mixer at high speed, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1 cup granulated sugar; continue beating until stiff peaks form.

4. With same beaters, beat egg yolks with remaining granulated sugar until thick and lemon-colored (about 3 minutes). Stir in 1/3 cup rum and the ground hazelnuts until well blended.

5. With wire whip or rubber scraper, fold nut mixture into egg whites. Turn into prepared layer cake pans.

6. Bake 30 minutes, or until surface springs back when lightly pressed with finger tip. Let cool completely in pans on wire racks. (Centers of layers may sink slightly).

Make Filling: In medium-sized bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, the sweet butter, rum and egg yolks; beat with electric mixer until well blended. Add melted chocolate; beat well.

8. Make Frosting: In small bowl, melt chocolate and butter over hot water. Remove from heat; blend in sugar, 2 tablespoons hot water, and vanilla until well blended and smooth.

9. With small spatula, gently loosen cooled torte layers from pans; carefully remove and peel off wax paper.

10. Put layers together, using about l/2 cup filling between layers. Set aside 1/2 cup filling for decoration and spread remaining filling on side of torte. Spread top with frosting.

11. With reserved filling in pastry bag with number 30 star tip, pipe rosettes around top edge of torte. Place whole hazelnuts on top of torte and pipe a border of filling around each. Press chopped hazelnuts against sides.

12. Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm enough to cut. If refrigerated longer than an hour, let stand at room temperature to warm slightly.

Makes 16 servings.

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