Making Dobos Torte II: Frosting and Decorating

Ooh…ahh…are the kinds of noises people make when this torte arrives at the table. It’s a show-stopper of a presentation, particularly good for people like myself who are terrible at piping. And while those caramel-topped “fan blades” may look difficult to produce, they really aren’t provided you have an offset icing spatula, a chef’s knife and a little buttered parchment paper. But we’ll get to that.

Start with the icing. It’s a simple melt-and-stir affair, though I’ll warn you that in true old-school Hungarian style it contains raw egg yolks. Given how intensely sweet the layers are, and that microbes aren’t known for their ability to grow in sweet and fatty icings, I’d say the odds of cultivating a food borne hazard are remote. However I’m not a food safety scientist, so use your best judgement. If you live in North America you might want to seek out some pasteurized yolks, or just use ganache to frost the torte instead. Put the chocolate into a bowl and zap on high in the microwave for ten seconds. Stir and zap again for another 10.

Continue on in this way until the chips are almost completely melted. Use the residual heat to melt the chocolate the rest of the way. The chocolate should be close to room temperature when you’re finished. Set it aside and allow it to cool while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

Put the soft butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle (beater). You can do this by hand if you wish.

Beat the butter for about a minute until it’s quite soft, then add the yolks and the vanilla.

Beat until incorporated, then add the powdered sugar and the melted chocolate.

Beat until the mixture is uniform and fluffy, scraping once or twice.

Apply a small dab to a cake circle or a platter.

Lay on your first layer (pressing down lightly so it sticks).

Then carry on applying very thin applications of frosting (mere scrapings if you have ten or more layers)…

…until you’ve used all but one of your layers.

Spread the rest of the chocolate mixture over the cake.

Don’t forget those sides…it need not be perfect since everyone’s going to be looking at the top!

Speaking of which…lay your thinnest layer on a piece of parchment paper, and apply a little melted butter around the edge with your finger (butter under the layer’s edge as well).

Swirl the sugar and water in the a small saucepan over high heat until it turns amber (for more on making caramel, see this post on making caramel and caramel sauce.) Pour the caramel over the layer and quicky — but carefully — spread it over the layer. If you make a mess, don’t worry about it, just be careful not to touch that caramel with your bare hands because it’s really, really hot.

Here I should point out that the caramel pictured just below is too dark. I’d already made the caramel top pictured above when I took these photos, and was experimenting with a bit more cooking. The problem is that while a darker caramel has a richer taste, it turns out rather gooey due to all the molecular flotsam and jetsam it contains. So when it comes time for the cutting the caramels sticks, even to a buttered knife. So cook your caramel, yes, but only to a medium amber.

Once the caramel is spread, count to ten (to allow the caramel to harden a little), pick up your chef’s knife and begin to cut it. Cut the top in half, then crosswise into quarters, crosswise into eighths, and finally sixteenths. As the wedges cool, continue to apply the knife or a pizza cutter along the scores, making sure the pieces separate.

To finish, apply a hazelnut to the top about an inch and a half from the edge.

Lean one of the wedges onto it at about a 30-degree angle.

Continue on all the way around until you’ve used all — or virtually all — of the pieces. I find I usually use fifteen instead of sixteen, as I like the snack. Also, the top looks crowded to me when I use every last piece.

Call me crazy, it’s my own little idiosyncrasy (of which I have many). Serve this torte chilled.

9 thoughts on “Making Dobos Torte II: Frosting and Decorating”

  1. Glad to see you’re back in the saddle! That’s a lovely Dobos, any chance you took a pic of a slice with all those pretty layers?

    I’m so glad you pointed out that caramel gets stickier as it gets darker. I love dark caramel but sometimes have trouble working with it, now I know one reason why.

    Another reason is that it also becomes more acidic as it gets darker, which can cause plenty of problems when adding milk.

    1. Indeed. As far a photo of a slice, we’ll see if I can get one. Most of the things I make I give away for this function or that over at the University, and it’s rare that I get much back. If Mrs. Pastry brings back a slice I promise to take a picture!

  2. Hi,

    Simply desired to express adulation considering the quality of the aforementioned Dobos Torte. Having experienced exposure to other Dobos (and been relatively pleased with presentation), I percieved it appropriate to inform you that your application of meticulous attention to detail, substantial skill, and inherent capability have unequivocally produced a paragon of pastry expertise. Regardless of idiosyncrasies, this product independently attests to the ability of its creator. As an established subscriber, I can definitively state that you persist in the capacity of inducing readers’ awe with each successive publication.

    Impressed, as usual,


    1. Scott, I appreciate it very much! Dobos tortes, despite being “simple” chocolate cakes, are actually quite involved. But all the effort is worth it in the end. Cheers and thank you for all the kind words! – Joe

  3. In my culinary school, we just used a chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream to frost if people don’t want to use the icing with raw yolks….. believe me it still tastes amazing! We also used little rosettes of the buttercream to help the “fan blades” stand up, but i like the whole hazelnuts better…. this is making me crave Dobos Torte! Looks delicious 🙂

    1. Thanks Amanda. I’ve made Dobos torte with meringue buttercream before and you’re right, it absolutely does taste amazing. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Hello!!!!
    I made Dobos Torte LAYERS!!!! I meant to say is, i find the layers the hardest part to make. If I have the layers right, the rest come together nicely.
    This website is very informative. You will not believe, how much I have learn’t from here. Such as jaconde, pate a bome, puff pastry basic excellent high ratio chocolate and yellow cakes, and swiss butter cream, and many many more. The most recent one t is DOBOS TORTE!!! The layers get cooked quickly, I stayed near them while they were in the oven. To check the doneness, I put my finger on top of the cake batter, if the batter sticks to my finger then it is still raw, if it does’nt then it is done. I have baked more then eight layers and I have chosen the best eight layers trimmed them and now they are in the freezer . I am going to cream them up with Swiss chocolate butter cream, I have ditched grainy American butter cream ever since I have learned to make Swiss butter cream. Can I leave my dobos torte layers, in the freezer for six months?

    Thank You!!!

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