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Top Pick Of The Week

May 3, 2005
Updated September 2007

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Empire Torte

Empire Torte: can it make people fall in love with you, enemies forgive you, clients give you more business? Very possibly. Photo by Dhanraj Emanuel.

We regret to announce that company founder Tuesday Evans decided to close Empire Torte in mid-2008 to pursue other interests.

 

My Empire for a Torte: Empire Torte

If King Richard III of York had asked for an Empire Torte instead of a horse in that final battle of the War of the Roses, things might have turned out better for him.  More than a chocolate cake, this confection can serve as a cementer of friendships, a panacea for what ails you, the best way to apologize, the key to many things mortals wish for. Had Richard sent an Empire Torte to Henry, Earl of Richmond with a note that said, “Let’s meet to settle our differences,” Henry very possibly would have settled—contingent, of course, upon Richard bringing more tortes.

Why this torte, among all the rich, dense flourless chocolate cakes? Because it achieves the impeccable balance of delivering profound chocolate flavor without going over-the-top into cloying sweetness or overly-creamy richness of most ganache cakes. It is a torte worthy of a king. Fortunately, it’s accessible to the rest of us. Read the full review below.

INDEX

 

Think back to your own “best chocolate cake ever” memory. Was it Grandma’s...or the one at the little tea room near college...or your favorite recipe clipped from a magazine but lost long ago? Would you give up any of portion of your own kingdom to have that cake again?

If so, you’ll understand why Empire Torte has magic powers—and why it may be the solution to your chocolate longings. It’s a dense ganache torte—chocolate, cream and eggs—made with one of the finest chocolates on earth El Rey, made from the acclaimed Venezuelan Carenero cacao bean. The balance is just perfect: not too sweet, not too rich. That’s the magic. With those ingredients—essentially, a chocolate truffle made into a cake—how could it not be too rich?

The excitement begins when you remove the linen-finish gift box from its cardboard shipper. A white linen-finish square sealed with a golden grosgrain ribbon and real sealing wax, it looks like a gift to royalty, a CEO, or Ralph Lauren. Could it possibly be for us? We hesitated to cut the ribbon—not because we thought it had landed on the wrong desk, but because the box is so handsome, we didn’t want to destroy the vision.

But nestled inside is the real prize: the perfect Empire Torte. Like opening a very large jeweler’s box, you know upon lifting the lid that you have received a treasure. There’s even a bronze star medallion in the center of the torte, an homage to both the cake and the recipient. (It’s actually a piece of hard chocolate in the shape of the company logo, brushed to look like bronze.)

The Difference Between A Cake And A Torte

What’s the difference between a cake and a torte? It depends on whom you ask. But essentially, torte is the German word for cake. As opposed to a pound cake or a more casual affair, a torte denotes a rich, dense cake made with many eggs and little or no flour, using ground nuts (and sometimes breadcrumbs) for texture. Tortes are also are shorter and wider—often no more than 2-1/2 inches high, and 10 to 12 inches in diameter.

Some “flourless chocolate cakes” are made with ground nuts. Others, like Empire Torte, are made with neither nuts nor flour—just chocolate, sugar, eggs and flavoring. They are ganache-like (like chocolate truffles), substituting eggs for the cream in a ganache. So is a flourless chocolate cake a cake or a torte? Based on the number of eggs, the lack of flour, the low height and the broad width, the answer is torte (although we could vote for “truffle cake,” too).

Flavors

Following the success of the original Empire Torte, deeply chocolate with hints of espresso, Tuesday Evans, the “Chief Confectionist,”  developed two variations.

  • Carenero Reserve Torte is a special torte made once a year and only in very limited quantities, with single plantation cacao from Carenero, a small enclave known for the exquisite quality of it beans. Only 296 tortes were made from the 2006 harvest.
  • The Emperor’s Plate honors a tradition begun in 1815, at the Congress of Vienna. Emperor Francis of Austria hosted delegations from the major powers of Europe, and went to great lengths to provide tastes from all over the Continent at lavish dinners. These smaller servings of a broader selection became known among the dignitaries as the “Emperor’s Plate.” Here, four small chocolate tortes provide tastes of the original Empire Torte plus Caramel, Orange and Raspberry tortes flavored with organic ingredients. Four individuals can split tastes of each—or enjoy an entire torte of his or her choice.
Emperor's Plate
Emperor’s Plate: Instead of one larger torte, you can have four smaller tortes in different flavors—Original, Caramel, Orange and Raspberry.
Empire Torte - Sliced
Bet you can’t eat just one—one torte, not one slice! Photo by Dhanraj Emanuel.

The Raspberry is intensely raspberry, the Orange slightly orange. Rather than being laced with gooey caramel, the Caramel has nutty tones.

What makes one torte good, another exceptional? There are nuances in recipes and techniques; but the quality of the ingredients are the key. Empire Torte starts with top-rated chocolate—you can’t buy better than El Rey. Farm-fresh eggs are delivered daily: the freshness of the eggs makes a difference in the finished product. Instead of using a tablespoon of generic coffee to bring out the chocolate’s qualities, Sumatra is roasted and ground to Empire’s specifications.

Ms. Evans states her company’s mission is to create the world’s best chocolate torte. We avow, she has succeeded.

Isn’t it time to stop reading and order a few?

Note: The website states that the 6-inch torte serves 8 to 10 people. Those are slivers, and could be served on a dessert tasting plate with two other selections. Something this good serves 4 chocolate lovers (or one excited NIBBLE editor, in two jumbo portions). Get the 10-inch size for a party of 8. You won’t have any leftovers—in fact, you’ll have a table of guests who will be clamoring for more. The torte also can be frozen and eaten straight from the freezer—no thawing required. We can’t decide which consistency we prefer—fresh or frozen.

—Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to your chocolate-loving friends and to anyone who needs a truly impressive dessert or gift idea.

EMPIRE TORTE

Rich Flourless Chocolate Torte

  • 6-Inch Torte
    (3 Pounds)
    $44.99
  • 10-Inch Torte
    (6 Pounds)
    $69.99
  • Carenero Reserve Torte
    (3 Pounds)
    $56.99
  • Emperor’s Plate
    (3 Pounds)
    4 Small Tortes: Original, Caramel, Orange, Raspberry
    $36.99

Purchase online at EmpireTorte.com
or telephone:
1.800.908.6783 (U.S. and Canada)
1.508.366.5340 (International)

Shipping additional. Prices are verified at publication but are subject to change.

Emperor's Plate
Don’t order a small one to “try it out.” Trust us: buy
the large. If you have any left over, you’ll be grateful. In fact, take advantage of shipping economies and order several.

 

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