Habsburger Torte

This is an elaborate cake that takes quite some time to prepare, but it is ideal for a special function or celebration.
The moist texture and unusual taste of the unpeeled hazelnuts are a perfect foil for the sweeter fillings. Make it 2 - 3 days ahead of time so that the flavours may develop.


serves about 40
100 g (4 oz) caster sugar
6 eggs, separated
5 cm (2 in) vanilla pod, split
100 g (4 oz) unpeeled, ground hazelnuts
50 g (2 oz) toasted breadcrumbs

chocolate sponge

85 g (3 1/2 oz) caster sugar
5 eggs, separated
85 g (3 1/2 oz) unpeeled, ground hazelnuts
100 g (4 oz) dark, dessert chocolate, melted and cooled
25 g (1 oz) toasted breadcrumbs

chocolate filling

140 g (5 oz) unsalted butter
140 g (5 oz) icing sugar, sifted
130 g (4 1/2 oz) dark dessert chocolate, melted and cooled
45 ml (3 tbsp) dark rum or Tia Maria

pistachio and almond filling

100 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
100 g (4 oz) icing sugar, sifted
2.5 cm (1 in) vanilla pod, split
130 g (4 1/2 oz) pistachios, ground
130 g (4 1/2 oz) ground almonds
45 ml (3 tbsp) apricot jam
1 1/2 portions Thick Chocolate Icing


1. Butter base, line and butter two 26 cm (10 1/2 in) spring-form tins. Dust with a mixture of caster sugar and flour and shake off the excess.

2. Make the hazelnut sponge by beating the caster sugar and egg yolks until pale, thick and fluffy. Add the seeds of vanilla and blend well. Mix in the nuts and breadcrumbs and combine well.

3. Whisk the egg whites until they are firm and lightly fold them into the mixture. Pour the batter into one of the tins, level it out and tap the tin sharply on the worktop to pop any bubbles of air. Bake at 180°C (350°F) Gas 4 for 30 minutes and cool.

4. After about 15 minutes of cooking time has elapsed make the chocolate sponge. Follow the same method as above, but before whisking the egg whites, beat the melted chocolate into the nut mixture. Proceed as before; bake and cool.

5. Chocolate filling Beat the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy. Mix in the cooled chocolate and the rum. Cover and chill.

6. Pistachio and almond filling Beat the butter and icing sugar with the vanilla seeds until pale and fluffy. Mix in the nuts. Cover and chill.

7. Trim the cake sides, then split the hazelnut sponge in two and place the base on a wire rack. Reserve one-third of the chocolate filling for piping decoration later and smooth the remainder on the sponge. Cover with the chocolate cake layer.

8. On sifted icing sugar roll out the pistachio paste to fit the cake and lay it on top; sandwich with the remaining hazelnut layer.

9. Heat the apricot jam with 30 ml (2 tbsp) water and strain. Brush the slightly cooled jam on the sides and top of the cake. Prepare the chocolate icing and pour it straight over the top and down the sides of the cake, smoothing with a palette knife as necessary. Avoid touching the top or it will lose its sheen. Leave to set.

10. Fit a piping bag with a small, star-shaped nozzle and fill with the reserved chocolate cream. Pipe stars around the edge of the cake and in the middle. Stud with hazelnuts and pistachios and serve.

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