Dobos? Check!

Scribbled on sheets of faded lined paper, buried within a plain-faced notebook, lists of all imaginable contents rattle on and on, marching down the pages with numbers or bullet marks leading the way. If not for these lists, I could very well lose my marbles- How else could I remember all of the hundreds of things I want to do, make, and see, from short term goals to future plans? If ideas were butterflies, this notebook would be my net, preventing those gems from slipping through my fingers. You may have already guessed it, but one of these lengthy outlines is headed with the title “Dream Pastry Challenges,” penned with excitable, sloppy print. From St. Honore to Sans Rival, difficult desserts are often added to the growing tally, but rarely checked off. Between recipe development, everyday cooking, and working in a restaurant, who has time for even more extracurricular baking?

Imagine my delight, then, when it was announced that August’s Daring Baking Challenge would be one of those formidable sweets I had scrawled on my list so long ago: The Dobos Torte.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

Now that it had been officially assigned, however, there was no way I could just make the traditional chocolate-and-vanilla, round cake. But what could be changed, while maintaining the integrity of this torte? How could I make it more interesting? As the reveal date drew nearer and still no Dobos had emerged from my kitchen, I grew downright panicky. Quickly, something, anything, had to be done! Inverting the flavors with a dark chocolate cake and white chocolate frosting, it seemed sufficiently modified at the time of brainstorming, especially when presented in individual rectangles.

But alas, the manifestation of this concept was considerably less impressive and graceful than it had been in my head. Like they say in Italian, “Brutti ma bouni” (Good but ugly.)

For days I stewed, contemplating trashing the whole challenge, burning time that could have been used to rectify the situation. Finally, with one day remaining, it became clear that there was only one option: Start from scratch. No way could I let this one slip by, not when it had been on my list for so long, and not when I’ve gone almost two years as a Daring Baker without missing a single challenge.

Gathering my enthusiasm, it was back to the drawing board. Perhaps the flavor needed more attention, I conceded. Why I suddenly decided that a pepper cake would be just the ticket, I still couldn’t say for sure.

But am I ever thankful I ran with it. Five 6-inch round layers of sweet roasted red pepper cake stack up beneath a coating of Mexican chocolate frosting. Crowned with a hollow sphere of pure dark chocolate and a disk of cayenne caramel, it’s a decidedly different, more modern take on this classic cake.

Since the nasturtium growing in the garden have been so hot and peppery this year, it seemed only appropriate that they too should be invited to the party. It all makes for one sensational sweet-savory-salty-spicy dessert!

Seeing it come together so beautifully in the end, despite the initial failure, was a huge relief. At this moment, there is nothing more gratifying than being able to check this one off my list.

81 thoughts on “Dobos? Check!

  1. I’m totally stunned a pepper Dodos torta!!!! I think you have very very high standards. And the other flavours, sweet roasted red pepper cake stack up beneath a coating of Mexican chocolate frosting. Crowed with a hollow sphere of pure dark chocolate and a disk of cayenne caramel, are astounding. Wonderous effort and your photos are goregous. Cheers from Audax in Australia. I hope it tasted delicious it sounds so good.

  2. roasted red pepper cake, that is so genius and I’m mad to know what it could taste like!! everything just screams innovation, and there’s even little red flecks peppering the crumb… eeek, I’m in love! spicy spicy spicy…..

  3. I wanted to veganize dobostorta for ages! Now I know it is doable. Not only is your cake very beautiful, the ingredients sound amazing, too!

  4. Roasted red pepper cake??? Mexican chocolate frosting!?!?!

    Reason Number 475 why you are my favorite vegan blogger! Pure genius, that cake sounds so amazing! I love the combination of chocolate and heat so this would be a dream for me. And I don’t even know what to say about the pictures….stunning, absolutely stunning.

  5. *blink*

    this leaves me so searching for words, I have to resign to my mothertongue….

    BOAH !

  6. Your creations are always so facinating. I’m having a hard time envisioning that flavor combination but imagine it was complex and interesting. I think you’re too hard on yourself. I see nothing wrong with the original.

  7. The first one isn’t clunky at all–I don’t know what you’re thinking! But the idea of a pepper cake is spinning my head, and sending me to the kitchen. I love the color & the flavor must be fantastic!

  8. beautiful, ambitious, and unique! and, i’m sure, delicious. how on earth you created a hollow dark chocolate sphere and a cayenne caramel disc are kind of beyond me at the moment, haha…

  9. Beautiful Hannah. I have been dreaming about sweet potato desserts lately (it must be the fall chill in the air). I am inspired by your flavour combinations to do a little experimenting.

    I did a raw version of the Dobos Torta. It was really tasty but not much to look at. I think my challenge in October will be to work on presentation.

  10. Wow, they both look incredible! What an over-achiever! I dont really understand your disappointment with the first one, it sounds lovely and looks amazing, but the other one is incredible with the sphere.

  11. Hannah, I love your blog. I wish you would make a DVD, since my latest in pure couch planting thumb sucking gratification is watching cooking DVD’s. It should be at least two hours long, longer if possible. I’m sure you’d make lots of bucks with it. My recipe requests are the iced tea cupcakes with lemon tea frosting, the samosa potato salad, the fruit butters, the pomegranate poached pears and the roasted garlic tapenade. Your second DVD could be all Chanukah recipes.

  12. I remember you were so excited when this challenge was announced. I think both versions look beautiful, but you were amazingly creative with your final Dobos. And the caramel crown layer is glorious!

  13. You must dream about cakes, pies, cookies, etc to come up with such brilliant combos! Where does all of the inspiration come from?!

  14. Quite a shocking combo – love it! I’m so glad you found the inspiration to try something like this; it’s what I love about snooping around your site. Gorgeous job!

  15. Congrats on meeting one of your goals and the DB challenge! Your photos are beautiful and your tortes sound exotic and look picture perfect!

  16. Whenever I see creations such as these- I want to make them. Copy them shamelessly and bake ’em up. But this has me totally blown away. The number of ‘how’s on this one are enumerable. Amazing!

  17. Ok..hands down..most unique flavor out of all the Dobos Tortes I’ve seen thus far (great way to get veggies into veggie haters), and a beauty to boot. I’ll also take the inside out Dobos, even though you weren’t thrilled with it! They both look awesome!

  18. Why am I not surprised with the way your torte turned out? :)
    Looks beautiful and that’s the most unusual flavour I’ve seen so for, for this cake.

  19. Why am I not surprised with the way your torte turned out? :)
    Looks beautiful and that’s the most unusual flavour I’ve seen so for, for this cake.;. All the best!!

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