This Hungarian Esterházy Torte consists of 5 thin layers of almond hazelnut meringue, filled with kirsch custard buttercream and rum apricot jam and glazed with icing. This gorgeous cake, with its signature chocolate stripe pattern, is the perfect dessert for a special occasion. By the way, have you tried my Sacher Torte yet?
Step-by-step video tutorial
What is Esterházy Torte?
The Esterházy cake was invented in Hungary and is a very popular cake in Hungary and neighboring European countries such as Austria. It's made with thin layers of nut meringue, kirsch custard buttercream and rum apricot jam. It has a distinctive black pattern on the icing reminiscent of cobwebs.
How to make meringue cake layers
Beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add sugar and mix until stiff and glossy. Then fold in the ground nuts and flour. Be careful not to overwork the meringue so it doesn't deflate and lose all of the air.
Then, using a pencil, draw five 9-inch (23cm) circles on parchment paper. Turn the paper over and thinly spread the meringue to fill the drawn circles. Bake one at a time until dry, puffy and lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.
Notes on icing
- The original recipe uses vegetable oil rather than corn syrup. I used corn syrup because it makes the frosting easy to work with and adds a nice glossy finish.
- Heat the glaze in the microwave until it reaches a temperature of 80-85°F (27-30°C). If the frosting is cooler, it won't be spreadable enough, and if it's warmer, it will be too soft and run down the cake.
- As soon as it has reached the required temperature, immediately pour it onto the cake and draw a thin chocolate wheel over it.
- Work quickly when applying the frosting so that it doesn't get too thick when frosting the cake.
- For the chocolate wheel, melt dark chocolate bars, place in a ziplock bag and snip a small tip off one edge and apply immediately after applying the glaze. Prepare it in advance.
- Using a toothpick, draw 8-9 lines alternately from the center to the edges of the cake and from the edges to the center of the cake to create the distinctive Esterházy cake pattern.
Expert tips for success
- The kirsch can be replaced with rum. But if kirsch is available where you live, I highly recommend using kirsch instead of rum, as that's the original liqueur used for the buttercream.
- Bake the meringue layers until they easily separate from the parchment paper. If not baked long enough, the paper will be difficult to remove and you will most likely tear the cake layers. Remove from the paper immediately after you take the meringue layer out of the oven.
- Spread the buttercream in thin layers to match the thickness of the meringue layers.
How long does it last
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Either serve cold or allow to come to room temperature before serving.
- Whole cake: After chilling, place the cake in the freezer until it is firm, for about 2 hours. Remove the cake from the freezer and tightly wrap in plastic wrap twice. Then wrap in aluminum foil twice. It freezes well for up to 2 months. To thaw, unwrap and let sit on the counter for 2 hours or in the fridge overnight.
- Single slices: Place single slices in the freezer for about 1 hour. Then remove from the freezer, tightly wrap in plastic wrap twice, and place in freezer bags. It freezes well for up to 2 months. To thaw, unwrap the cake and place on the kitchen counter for 1 hour.
More European dessert recipes to try
- Black Forest Cake
- Panna Cotta
- Spanish Flan
- Crème Brûlée
- Chocolate Eclairs
Hungarian Esterházy Torte Recipe
Kirsch Custard Buttercream
Almond Hazelnut Meringue
Glaze and decoration
- ⅓ cup apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- ⅛ cup high-quality semi-sweet chocolate bars, melted
- 2 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 ½ tablespoon water
- 2 ½ teaspoon light corn syrup
- 1 cup almond slices
- Custard: Combine yolks, cornstarch, and ⅜ cup of milk in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Bring ½ cup of milk and the sugar over medium heat to a boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Whisk constantly. Slowly pour hot milk into the egg mixture. Whisk to combine. Slowly pour the tempered egg yolk mixture into the saucepan and cook until thick for about 2 minutes. Whisk continuously. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent it from forming a skin. Chill 1 hour.
- Meringue layers: Using a pencil, draw five 9-inch (23cm) circles on parchment paper. Then turn the parchment paper over and place on baking sheets. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
- In a bowl, combine nuts and flour and stir to combine. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add sugar and whisk until glossy and stiff peaks form. Carefully fold in the flour mixture. Thinly spread the meringue to fill the drawn circles on the paper. Make sure all layers are the same thickness. Bake one layer at the time for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately flip over the parchment paper and remove the paper. Let cool to room temperature.
- Custard: In a large bowl, beat butter on medium-high speed until creamy. Add custard little by little and stir to combine. Add kirsch and vanilla* and stir until fully combined and creamy. Set aside.
- Jam: Combine apricot jam and rum in a bowl and stir until smooth and combined. Set aside.
- Assemble the cake: Place the first meringue layer on a cake plate and spread with ¼ of the custard filling. Then place the second meringue layer on top and repeat the process until you have 4 layers of meringue and 4 layers of custard. Place the last layer (you want it to be the nicest layer of all layers) on top of it, upside out, with the smooth side facing up. Spread the apricot jam evenly on top. Then refrigerate for 30 minutes or until jam is set and dry.
- Decoration: Place melted chocolate in a ziplock bag and snip off a tiny edge of the bag. The line of chocolate that you will later draw on the icing should be 0.04 inch (1 mm) thick. Set aside.
- Glaze: Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup and stir until smooth. Microwave for a few seconds until it reaches a temperature of 80-85°F (27-30°C). Immediately pour onto the chilled Esterhazy cake. Let the glaze drip down the sides of the cake.
- Pipe a chocolate wheel onto the frosting, starting from the center and working towards the edges. Alternately run the tip of a toothpick from the center to the edges and from the edges to the center 1-inch (2.5cm) apart. You will have 8-9 lines in each direction. Cover the sides with almonds, carefully pressing them against the sides with your hand. Chill in an airtight container in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and store for up to 3 days.
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