Expresso Walnut Cake

From Nantucket Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase, chef and owner of Nantucket's Que Sera Sarah.

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This is another perennial favorite in the neighborhood.

 

Cake:
1 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup water 8 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon instant expresso powder 1 1/4 cups walnuts
6 ounces semisweet chocolate bits 1 slice fresh white bread, crusts removed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract pinch salt
 
Frosting:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate bits 3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup water 3/4 cup shifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant expresso powder ground walnuts, for garnish
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature chocolate covered coffee beans, for garnish
 

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with 8-inch parchment paper circles. Butter the paper and dust with flour, shaking out any excess.

Prepare the cake: Place the sugar, water, and expresso in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, Add the chocolate and the vanilla and heat, whisking constantly, just until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
Cream the butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. gradually beat in the cooled chocolate mixture.
Place the walnuts and bread in a food processor fitted with the steel blade; process until ground. Stir the walnut mixture into the chocolate mixture.
Beat the egg whites with the salt in a mixing bowl until stiff, but not dry. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans.
Bake the cakes until the edges have pulled slightly away from the pans, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Prepare the frosting: Place the chocolate, water, and expresso in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, just until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until slightly chilled.
Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the chilled chocolate mixture, then the confectioners' sugar, continuing to beat until the mixture is of a think, spreading consistency.
Place 1 cake on a serving platter and frost the top. Top with the second cake and spread the top and sides with frosting. Place any remaining frosting over the top of the cake. Garnish with ground walnuts and candy coffee beans, if desired.
Serve the cake slightly chilled.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.