Rigó Jancsi Recipe

Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate. What else would one expect from a cake named for a swarthy gypsy violinist, the man who stole the wife of a Belgian prince and scandalized Parisian society for years? Ladies — to your fainting couches! This tale of passion, love and loss may be too much for your sensibilities to bear.

For the spongecake:

2.5 ounces (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
10 eggs, room temperature and separated
4.5 ounces (about 2/3 cup) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the chocolate glaze:

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1.5 ounces butter
1.5 ounces (3 tablespoons) light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) cocoa powder
2 ounces (1/2 cup) powdered sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 pint heavy cream
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the assembly:

apricot glaze (if desired)

Preheat your oven to 350. Line a half (13″ x 18″) sheet pan with parchment paper and brush it with melted butter.

Now prepare the cake. Whisk together the cocoa powder and flour. Melt the butter in the microwave in a medium bowl. Add the chocolate pieces and stir to melt, apply ten-second bursts of heat as necessary. When the mixture is smooth, set it aside to cool.

In a mixer fitted with a whip, beat the egg yolks on high until pale and thick, about five minutes, then with the machine running add half the sugar in a stream. Continue whipping until the yolks and sugar fall from the whip in a ribbon. Transfer the yolk mixture to a medium bowl and fold in chocolate mixture. Set the bowl aside while you prepare the whites.

Rinse and dry the mixer bowl and whip. Put the whites in the bowl and whip to soft peaks, add the salt, then add the remaining sugar in a stream. Continue to whip to the stiff peak stage, the foam should be very glossy. Stir 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture to lighten the batter, then fold in the rest in two additions. Lastly, fold in the flour and cocoa.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level it with an icing spatula. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and loosen the edges with a knife. Lay a second sheet of parchment and a wire rack over the layer, then invert the pan. Remove the pan and — carefully — the top sheet of parchment. Cover the cake with a clean kitchen towel and another wire rack and invert the cake again. Remove the parchment from the top and allow the cake to cool.

When the cake is cool, cut the sheet in half. Prepare the glaze by combining all the ingredients save for the vanilla in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat the bowl for 20 seconds on full power, then apply as many ten-second bursts as needed to melt the chocolate completely, stirring in between to allow the residual heat to do most of the work. Stir in the vanilla and pour the glaze over the cake, spreading it promptly with an icing spatula.

Allow the glaze to set, about 45 minutes to an hour. When it’s firm, score the top to delineate twenty 2″ square pieces. Then heat the knife under tap water, dry it and gently make the cuts (you’ll need to clean your knife and re-heat it after each cut).Set the pieces aside or store in the refrigerator.

For the filling, melt the chocolate pieces in the microwave, using a 20-second burst, then as many ten-second bursts as needed until it’s completely smooth. Cool it until it’s just barely warm to the touch. Stir together the cocoa and powdered sugar. Whip the cream mixture to just shy of soft peaks. Then, with the machine on, whip in the cocoa and sugar mixture. Add the vanilla and rum and whip for a few more seconds to incorporate. Add the melted chocolate all at once and quickly whip or whisk it in, whichever works better for you.

Set the second cake layer on sheet of parchment paper and trim up the sides. Brush apricot glaze over it, then apply the filling, being careful to apply it evenly. Square up the corners. Gently lay the glazed top pieces on the top, then refrigerate the entire cake for at least an hour. When ready to serve, cut the cake into pieces using a sharp knife heated under hot top water.

26 thoughts on “Rigó Jancsi Recipe”

  1. Mmm… passion-inspired chocolate cake? Count me in!
    I have to admit that I’m having problems visualizing the top cut-up layer though — are we mussing up the pieces for a dramatic-looking top? Or…?

  2. Burnt feathers! Vinaigrette! Smelling salts!
    Thanks, Joe!
    I will be making this tomorrow for school. It looks very do-able. Will let you know how it comes out.
    Do they make portable chaises longues on wheels, I wonder? With handsome burly footmen to cart them around, of course….
    I remain, Sir,
    Yr humble and most obedient servant, etc., etc.

      1. Ok. I made the cake, sampled it, and sent it to the school. The sponge was delicious. The filling was delicious. Even the hard topping was delicious. The whole thing together was delicious, yes.
        However, it was fussy. There’s a missing direction about when to add the melted butter & chocolate to the whipped egg yolks. I was mixing in the first third of beaten whites when I saw the melted mix in the bowl on the counter. I hurridly incorporated it and went on with the recipe.
        Then the removing of the parchment. After reading that direction ten times, I just put a clean tea towel over the top of the cake, flipped it onto a rack, peeled off the parchment from the bottom of the cake and let it cool.
        I had temperature issues with the filling and glaze. Again. The glaze hardened very quickly to a fudge consistency. I managed to get it glopped onto the top layer, but I didn’t create the shiny smooth ‘glaze’ effect by any stretch.
        And the cream for the filling just refused to beat to a firm consistency. I finally poured it over the bottom layer and stashed it in the fridge until it set enough that the top layer wouldn’t cause everything to squish out.
        Also, there’s no indication how much apricot glaze you need. I warmed a whole jar of apricot jam and strained it but found I only needed a few tablespoons of it to cover the layer. But you can barely taste the apricot, so I either didn’t use enough or it’s just not necessary. Strained apricot jam doesn’t go bad, does it?
        But I think that with the same ingredients and effort, the “Dark & Milk Chocolate Mousse Cake” in Francois Payard’s book “Simply Sensational Desserts” is a better way to go. His directions are also somewhat muddled (because he lists all his ingredients at once instead of dividing what goes in the different fillings and because he describes the creation of the filling in a needlessly complicated manner). But I modified his instructions so his mousses came together and set up beautifully each of the seven (yes, it is SO delicious) times I made it. He also doesn’t have the apricot glaze (simple syrup instead) nor the top chocolate glaze.
        But the result is a similar: a chocolate sponge on the bottom with a layer of dark chocolate mousse on top, another chocolate sponge layer, topped with mounds of billowy, pillowy milk chocolate mousse. The whole shebang molded in a springform pan, so you don’t have to worry about oozing mousse (not a pretty image).
        The Payard mousse cake is my son’s birthday cake of choice. I think when I make for him next week, I’m going to incorporate the two recipes. Your sponge recipe baked in two round pans. But Payard’s two mousse recipes. I’m going to use the apricot jam (waste not, etc., etc.) and the glaze topping.
        I’m glad I made this recipe, because the Rigo Jancsi recipe has been on my baking ‘to-do’ list for a long time. However, I may decide after next week to stick to the Payard version.
        And, Joe, sorry about the lack of pictures. But my creation was not worthy of being immortalized in pixels (mega or otherwise).

        1. OK, thanks for all this. I made a couple of adjustments to the processes that should correct for some of the flaws in the original recipe. The filling especially, which I admit looked a bit suspect to me. Thanks so much for the detailed notes. This will end up a much better recipe because of them. Cheers,

          – Joe

  3. hi joe, are you into food travel /quest or something..? these are some exotic less heard (at least in India) european dishes. This is an eye opener..

    1. Hi HB! I generally stick to more traditional preparations as you know, but spit cake and Rigó Jancsi are a bit if a tangent for me. They’re in the pastry “canon” as it were, just a bit lesser known.

  4. Sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen and best saved for a Holiday! More of the story, please…what happens next??

    1. The key is portions, portions…this pastry is served in small amounts, which is the key to enjoying it any time!

  5. What happens to melted chocolate in cake preparation part. Is it added to yolk mixture or later with the cocoa and flour?


  6. Hi, what´s the difference between the bittersweet chocolate and the semisweet?

    1. Hello Juliana!

      The difference between bittersweet and semi-sweet is just the amount of sugar in the blend. Both are forms of dark chocolate. Neither one contains milk solids. Both must have a minimum of 35% cocoa and at least some added cocoa butter (at least in the US…I’m not sure about Brazil).

      Thanks for the email!

      – Joe

  7. Hi, Joe! I found your site thanks to Deb from SK. And have been browsing it constantly for the past few days. I can’t believe I haven’t seen it before; definitely one of the best sites about baking. Anyway, I’d like to attempt this recipe, but a question first: Can any of the parts (the cake itself, for instance, and/or the glaze) be prepared in advance? I have a two-year old and my kitchen time is extremely limited.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Tanya,
      As a hungarian myself i have made rigo jancsi (I have a different recipe) in numerous times and it is best to make it a day ahaed and yes you can make it in separate steps as your time allows. I’ll try this recipe next time.

  8. Hi Joe!

    I just have found your site , and I was so happy when I found Rigó Jancsi in your blog. I’m writing from Hungary, here it is a traditional cake, I like it. I hope America will like it too 🙂


    1. Hello Anna!

      You know, it’s one of the most popular pastries on the blog. People love it — as they should, it’s wonderful. You know I also make a decent Dobos Torte! I love Hungary. It’s been quite a while since I’ve been there, but I hope to go back some time soon. Thank you very much for the email!

      – Joe

  9. I’ve just finished making the cake; and it’s fantastic!

    From start to finish and excellent recipe.

    I’ve been to Hungary many times and have enjoyed Rigo Jancsi in various pastry shops, or Cukraszda in Hungarian. This is the real deal; well done!

    James, England.

    1. James, I couldn’t be more pleased to receive this comment. Thanks so much for the kind words and congratulations on your victory!


      – Joe

  10. I have never heard of Rigo Jancsi before until now and all I can say is count me in. This sounds and looks absolutely delicious, I am a huge chocoholic as is my mom. As soon as I get home from school this is the absolute first thing that I will be making. I do have a question though, I have noticed on most of your recipes that instead of glazing the cakes the easy way you do it the hard way. By this I mean you don’t make a thin smooth ganache or chocolate glaze you make a firm one and spread it thus leaving the spatula marks, is there a specific reason as per why you do this?

    1. Hey Devin!

      For these sorts of applications I like a firmer top layer, that’s why I do it the way I do. A ganache is creamy and easy to apply, but then the entire center of this cake is creamy as well. Add it up and the whole device is too soft for me with ganache. But don’t let that stop you, use ganache if you prefer. I’m sure it will taste fabulous.


      – Joe

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