Mandalas Torte: Chocolate-Almond Torte

Mandalas Torte: Chocolate-Almond Torte

Today, a cake.


Why a cake? It’s Sunday. Why NOT a cake?

This cake is most definitely a Buddha family adaptation of a more traditional Hungarian torte. A torte, in case you’re not familiar, is a sponge-like cake.  There are so many varieties- hazelnut, walnut…some with chocolate, some with fruit, some with pastry cream.  Hungary is pretty famous for these types of cakes in general, and probably most famous for the seven-layer Dobos Torte, named after its creator Josef Dobos, which is seven layers of vanilla cake sandwiched with chocolate buttercream and topped with caramel. Sounds divine but…I’m not making that.


I’m making what is my family’s twist on the torte. It’s one of those recipes that evolved over time from my grandmother’s recipe that read something like “8 spoons of ground almonds, 8 spoons of sugar…” etc.

But…what is a “spoon”?  In this case, it was a large soup spoon that grandma had that she used to measure out this particular cake.  Um….even as a kid I needed something more exact than that, so probably about 18 years or so ago I measured out the conventional measure for that “spoon,” and that’s the recipe we have here today. Mama Buddha actually never did, but rather had her own “spoon” with which to measure. Turns out, as long as you use the same “spoon” to measure all the ingredients, the proportions will remain the same, and the cake will turn out just fine.  Mama modified the original recipe by adding chocolate and raspberry, and I’m changing it even more to make it gluten-free.  The result is a sort of chocolate chip whipped cream cake. YUM-O.

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I will say that back when Mama first started making this cake, Little Buddha and I had to grate chocolate bars by hand and Mama probably used the blender to process whole almonds. However, thanks to my food processor and Trader Joe’s for selling already-ground almond meal, this cake takes a lot less time to make today.


A few notes:  This is one of those separate-the-eggs-and-beat-the-whites sort of deal. If you’ve never made something like that before, make SURE that no yolks contaminate the whites. They will not whip up.

I made this three layers using an 8” round. Mama usually does two in a 9” round. To each his own, but both will work.

If you don’t care about the gluten-free thing, then just sub regular all-purpose flour for the tapioca flour below.

You can also omit the jam in between the layers and serve this with the jam as a drizzle on the side if you’re like Sally Albright and on the side is a very big thing for you.

Mandalas Torte
Serves 10
A light, tasty chocolate almond cake
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  1. 8 eggs, separated
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
  4. 1 cup chocolate chips, finely ground in a food processor
  5. 1 tsp baking powder
  6. 1 TB tapioca flour
  7. 2 TB gluten-free breadcrumbs
  8. 1 tsp vanilla
  9. 2 cups whipping cream
  10. ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
  11. 1 cup raspberry jam, seedless
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare 3 8” cake pans with grease, sugar and parchment. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment, beat the whites until stiff. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.
  3. Back in the mixer bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale yellow. Add the vanilla and baking powder. Slowly add the almond meal, flour and breadcrumbs, and beat until just incorporated. Add the chocolate.
  4. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the sugar/flour/chocolate mixture. Divide the batter into the three cake pans.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for about 5 minutes and invert onto cooling racks to finish cooling.
  6. Just before you’re ready to assemble, beat the whipped cream and confectioner’s sugar until stiff peaks form (but not so much as to make it butter!).
To assemble
  1. Set a large flat plate on a large inverted bowl or bottom of a salad spinner (of course, if you have a cake stand, use that). Place a cake layer top side up on the plate. Warm the jam in the microwave just enough to loosen it (30 seconds works for me). Using an offset spatula spread about 1/3 cup of the whipped cream in a thin layer over the first cake layer, leaving about 1/4-inch border along the outside. Drizzle with about 3 TB of the warm jam and spread around. Lay the second cake layer on top, stacking it as straight as possible. Repeat the filling process. Place a third cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over the entire cake. It’s not supposed to be perfectly smooth, so don’t worry about that. Drizzle with remaining jam.
  2. Store in the refrigerator. These cake layers also freeze extremely well in case you needed to make it ahead.
The Hungary Buddha Eats the World

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NOTE: For those of you who know what I’m talking about, I’m switching this over to self-hosted this week. I barely know what that means. I’m scared about it, but as I’ve watched my capacity climb close to 100% the past few months, I realize that it’s time.  Bottom line is that the site may be down/wonky for…I honestly have no idea how much time. Bear with me, and we’ll be coming back full swing with birthday favorites week!

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