Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mom's Neutron Torte

This is my mother's (in)famous chocolate torte recipe (also known as "neutron torte" or "instant heart attack inducer torte"). She has kindly given me permission to post this recipe. For those people in my department, this is what I brought to the MMG department party two months ago.

I've adjusted mom's recipe to make only one torte. She always makes two and freezes one if she doesn't need the second one immediately; I simply don't have the freezer space to do so. I've also added hazelnut to the glaze, which I quite like.


Snap out the bottoms of an 8" springform pan (flat bottomed preferred). Cover bottom of pan with foil, snap it back in, butter the sides and the foil-covered bottom (or spray with pam, that's what I do).


Separate 3 eggs (save both whites and yolks).

Mix together:
2 melted sticks butter
1.5 C sugar
1 tsp bourbon vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

Add in and beat together until totally blended:
1/4 C cream
3 egg yolks.

Mix together in a separate bowl:
1 C flour
2/3 C cocoa powder (NOT hot chocolate mix). Either dutch processed or normal cocoa will work, they'll just give slightly different flavors. I use whatever I have on hand.

Add to butter mixture and mix until till smooth.

Beat separately:
3 egg whites
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar. Underbeating is better than overbeating.

Side note: do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph white whipped egg whites in a white bowl sitting on a white stove? Yeesh.

Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture:

You really don't want to over-mix, or you'll lose all that air that you so carefully beat into the egg whites. Here's what it should look like shortly before you put it in the pan:

And here's what it looks like before baking:

Put in the pan and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Center will not be solid, and cracking should appear. Run a knife carefully around outer edges; cake will fall.

Cool at least an hour. Loosen springform sides and remove. Put a plate on bottom of cake and flip over. Peel off bottoms of pans, then the foil. Glaze when fully cooled.


1/2 lb (250 g) bittersweet chocolate (we use Trader Joe's pound plus bars)

2/3 to 3/4 C cream
1 tsp hazelnut extract (this is what I do, mom has done mint before, which is also very good. My next plan is to try raspberry extract).

Melt chocolate in cream using a double boiler or microwave (I use a microwave). Try not to incorporate extra air in as you stir or you'll get bubbles, which are annoying. Also, it is important that every edge of every piece of chocolate be dunked in the cream before heating or that piece of chocolate may seize into a hardened, unmeltable lump.

When glazing, mom makes a backwards J from the center, turns the cake slightly, and repeats all the way around. If you use the smaller amount of cream the indentations will be clearer. When I make these I then stick the glazed torte in the fridge until the glaze sets. Once it has set you can run a knife around the bottom, insert a spatula under the torte and lift the whole thing to a new (clean) plate, which is prettier than leaving it on the plate you used while glazing the torte.

Note: my mom uses manufactoring cream for this recipe, which has a higher saturated fat content, so it holds shape better. I just use regular heavy cream, and I think it works just fine.


  1. I know your mom from the "knitting world". . .and she posted that you posted this. . .and I am so glad that you did! Thanks!

  2. Ah, the infamous Knitting World. After attending Stitches West last year with mom (I'm a Wheelchair Pusher Extraordinaire), I became convinced that you needle-wielders could take over the world if you wanted to do so.

    You're quite welcome for the recipe! Please let me know if anything is unclear; I'm still trying to improve my recipe-posting style.

  3. If you want to swipe my finished-torte picture at feel free!

  4. Thanks, Mom! I linked to your post so I kind of figured people can see it there. On a similar note, feel free to link to this if anyone wants the step-by-step directions!