Chocolate-Rosemary Torte

Chocolate-Rosemary Torte


Chocolate-rosemary mousse:
1/4 cup loosely packed rosemary leaves (about 1/3 of 3/4 ounce pack, stem removed and discarded)
2 cups heavy cream, divided
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped and melted
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Chocolate fudge cake:
21/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
21/4 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

Rosemary buttercream:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, divided
3/4 cup loosely packed rosemary leaves (one 3/4-ounce pack, stems removed and discarded)
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnish (optional):
Fresh rosemary sprigs (at least sixteen)


1. Make mousse: Place rosemary leaves and 1 cup heavy cream in stainless steel saucepan. Bring to scalding point over medium heat. Turn off heat and let rosemary steep in warm cream for about 30 minutes.

2. Place yolks in bowl of electric mixer fitted with whip attachment. Whip yolks on high speed until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, combine sugar and water in another saucepan, and place on medium-high heat. Bring mixture to rolling boil.  Let mixture boil another 1-2 minutes until thick and syrupy.

3. Turn mixer down to medium speed.  Gradually pour sugar syrup into egg yolks in slow, steady stream with mixer running. Shut off mixer and scrape down sides if sugar has stuck to bowl. Work very quickly so heat of syrup does not cook yolks. Turn mixer back on and continue beating at high speed until mixture is thick and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes.

4. Turn egg mixture into large bowl. Whisk in melted chocolate and butter until mixture is smooth.

5. Using fine-mesh stainless steel sieve, strain cream mixture into chocolate base to remove rosemary. Press any excess fluid from rosemary through sieve. Whisk until smooth.

6. Place remaining 1 cup cream in clean bowl of electric mixer fitted with whip attachment. Whip cream to soft peaks. Fold into chocolate-rosemary base until cream is uniformly distributed.

7. Cover with plastic and refrigerate several hours, or overnight, until mousse is extremely firm. (Note: A firmer mousse will make for much easier cake assembly later on.)

8. Make cake: Position rack in lower third of oven, and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8" round cake pans.  Line bottoms with parchment, and then grease and flour parchment. Tap excess flour out of pans, and set them aside.

9. Stir sifted cake flour, baking soda and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.

10. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream softened butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

11. Add melted chocolate and vanilla extract, mixing well and scraping down
bowl sides, as needed, to evenly incorporate chocolate.

12. Add reserved flour mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour. Mix on low speed and only just enough to incorporate each addition.

13. Pour boiling water into measuring cup and stir in espresso powder to dissolve. Add water immediately to cake batter. Stir by hand until mixture is smooth and uniformly blended. (Note: Batter will be very loose at this stage, but this is perfectly normal.)

14. Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing it evenly. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until skewer inserted in center of cakes comes out clean.

15. Cool pans on racks for 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto racks, remove pans and parchment liners, and allow cakes to cool completely before filling.

16. Make buttercream: Melt 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter in stainless steel saucepan. Turn off heat, add rosemary leaves, and let rosemary steep for about 30 minutes in warm butter.

17. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in bowl of electric mixer fitted with whip attachment. Beat at medium-high speed until stiff.

18. Meanwhile, combine corn syrup and sugar in another saucepan. Mix until sugar is completely coated with syrup. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat.

19. With mixer running at medium-high speed, gradually pour sugar syrup into whipped egg whites in slow, steady stream. Continue to beat until mixture has cooled, about 10 minutes.

20. Using fine-mesh stainless steel sieve, strain melted butter into medium bowl to remove rosemary. Press any excess fluid from rosemary through sieve. Add remaining 11/2 cups (3 sticks) softened butter and stir until mixture is completely homogeneous.

21. With mixer still running, now at high speed, add rosemary-butter in small increments to meringue. Mixture will at first deflate, then turn grainy, and eventually become quite glossy once all butter is added. (Note: If icing seems loose after last butter addition, place bowl in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes and try re-beating.) Set aside until ready to use. If you don't plan to assemble cake immediately, icing must be refrigerated. To return icing to spreading consistency after refrigerating, soften at room temperature and then re-beat.

22. Assemble torte: With long, serrated knife, trim any domes off cooled cake tops and split each cake into two, 1/2" thick layers. (Note: You will only need three layers, but fourth can be wrapped tightly in plastic and then foil, and frozen for up to one month.)

23. Place a cake layer on a serving plate. Using pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip (such as Ateco #6), pipe chocolate mousse in concentric circles on top of cake. Level filling with offset spatula, as needed. Add another layer of cake and mousse, and top with last cake layer.

24. With an offset spatula, spread reserved buttercream on tops and sides of cake. Transfer cake to decorative serving plate, as desired, and finish bottom with piped border. Serve immediately or store cake in refrigerator. Be sure to serve cake at room temperature, though, or buttercream will be hard. Garnish each piece with sprig of fresh rosemary, as desired.

This recipe was developed by Julia M. Usher


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