- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006

I always made my mother a special cake for Mother’s Day, since her birthday was May 12. I tried all sorts of creative twists, but after a while I settled on the tried and true — lots of chocolate. The following recipe, a Viennese version of an old-fashioned Hungarian cake (reputedly named after Rigo Jancsi, a Gypsy violinist), is a perfect make-ahead treat for Mother’s Day. It’s a bit complicated to make, but that’s one of the reasons it is special. The cake sometimes is called Rigo Jancsi.

It doesn’t require advanced cooking skills. It just asks for a little time and dedication — the kinds of things moms themselves are so good at.

You can assemble it completely the day before, then just cut it into squares before serving. It’s perfect for a crowd, since it makes so many pieces. Or maybe it’s just perfect for a mom who loves chocolate.

A few hints for preparing the delicious chocolate Rigo squares that follow: Use a fine quality chocolate. If the chocolate has the cocoa content stated on the label, go for 60 to 65 percent.

Be careful not to overbake the cake or it will be dry. If it’s brittle after cooling, sprinkle it with a little orange liqueur or chilled sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil and cooled a bit) as you are assembling the cake.

Just beat the chocolate filling lightly when assembling the cake. Overdoing it will make the filling difficult to spread and dry-textured when eaten.

Be careful to wipe the knife with a wet paper towel when cutting the cake squares or they won’t have a smooth top surface.

If Mom doesn’t like this wonderful cake, make potato salad next year.

Chocolate Rigo squares

Butter for pan

Parchment paper or foil for pan

CAKE:

Water

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut in 1/4-inch pieces

6 large eggs, separated

Pinch of salt

½ cup sugar, divided

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

FILLING:

1½ cups heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

2 tablespoons butter

16 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut in 1/4-inch pieces

GLAZE:

½ cup heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut in 11/4-inch pieces

Unsweetened whipped cream, optional

Butter bottom and sides of a 12-by-18-inch jellyroll pan and line with buttered parchment or foil. Set aside.

Bring a small pan of water to a boil to make bottom of a double boiler and turn off heat. Combine chocolate and 1/4 cup (additional) water in a heatproof bowl and place over pan of hot water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth.

Put 6 yolks in bowl of an electric mixer and whisk in salt and 1/4 cup sugar by hand. Place bowl on mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip on medium-high until yolks and sugar are light and thickened.

If you only have one mixer bowl and whisk, scrape yolk mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Wash bowl and whisk in hot, soapy water, rinse and dry.

Put 6 egg whites and salt in the clean, dry mixer bowl. Place on mixer fitted with whisk attachment and whip whites on medium speed until they are white, opaque and beginning to hold a very soft peak.

Increase speed to medium-high and whip in remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a stream. Continue whipping whites until they hold a firm peak.

Stir melted chocolate into yolk mixture, immediately followed by about 1/4 of the whipped egg whites. Sift and fold in flour, and then fold in remaining egg whites. Scrape batter into prepared pan and use a medium offset spatula to spread batter evenly.

Bake cake layer on center rack of preheated 350-degree oven until risen (it will not rise very high) and firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 15 minutes. Use paper to slide cake pan to a rack to cool cake.

To make the filling, bring cream and corn syrup to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally to make sure corn syrup doesn’t fall to the bottom and burn.

Remove pan from heat and add butter and chocolate. Gently shake pan to make sure butter and chocolate are completely submerged and wait 2 minutes for them to melt.

Whisk filling smooth and pour it into a bowl. Refrigerate filling until it is about 80 degrees, or of spreading consistency. (Don’t leave filling in refrigerator too long or it will become too hard to whip.)

To assemble cake, slide paper with cake still stuck to it to a cutting board and cut through both paper and cake with a sharp serrated knife to make two 12-by-9-inch rectangles. Slide one off cutting board. Run a long, thin knife or spatula between paper and cake that remains on the cutting board to loosen it, but leave paper underneath.

Loosening the cake from the paper will make removing the cubes of finished cake from the paper easier later on. Scrape cooled filling into bowl of an electric mixer and beat it with the paddle on medium speed until it is lightened to a milk chocolate color.

Do not overbeat, or filling will separate. Immediately use a medium offset spatula to spread whipped filling evenly over cake layer on cutting board. Invert remaining cake layer (still stuck to paper for easy handling) to a cookie sheet with no sides or to a stiff rectangular piece of cardboard. Gently slide cake layer into place over filling. Carefully peel off paper.

Place a stiff cardboard or cookie sheet on cake and gently press to make sure top layer of cake adheres well to the filling. Refrigerate cake while preparing glaze.

Bring cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate. Gently shake pan to make sure all chocolate is submerged and wait 2 minutes for it to melt.

Whisk glaze just until smooth, but avoid whisking too much or glaze will be riddled with bubbles. Let glaze cool until it is just slightly warm to the touch, about 100 to 105 degrees.

After glaze has cooled, remove cake from refrigerator and pour glaze over it. Quickly spread glaze evenly with a medium offset spatula. Don’t worry about any glaze that drips down sides of the cake, as it will be trimmed away later on.

Refrigerate cake again for at least 1 hour, or up to 24 hours, to set the glaze.

Rinse a long, sharp serrated knife in hot water, then wipe it dry with a cloth. Use knife to trim sides of the cake evenly, rinsing and wiping between each cut. Cut cake into 2-inch squares.

To serve, lift cubes of cake off paper with a cake server or spatula and line them up symmetrically on a platter. Serve alone or with a little unsweetened whipped cream, if desired. Keep cake refrigerated but bring it to room temperature for an hour or so before serving.

Cover leftovers with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Makes 20 to 24 2-inch squares.

Nick Malgieri is the author of “Perfect Cakes” and “A Baker’s Tour” (HarperCollins).


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