This torte is not for the faint of heart. It is dense, it is sticky, it is syrupy sweet. The recipe for this walnut torte comes from Jill O’Connor’s “Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey.”

I’ve referred to this book time and time again (Re: Bahama Mama Banana Rum cake; Sticky Toffee Pudding; Cheesecake pops) and this won’t be the last time either.

I made this cake for my mother’s birthday this year, as she had pointed it out in the book as something she’d like to eat.

 

O’Connor says this cake reminds her of her favourite Greek desserts as it is sticky with syrup and full of nuts. Indeed, a bite of this cake reminded me of my favourite Greek honey cookies (melamakarona) but also of the dense honey cake that was served to us as part of our breakfast every morning in Santorini on our honeymoon. Cake served alongside thick Greek yogurt, strong coffee, runny honey, and an omelette on a balcony overlooking the beautiful Caldera. In short, every bite is packed with flavour, and beautiful memories.

Below you will find the recipe I adapted for my purposes.

Ingredients:
3 cups very finely chopped toasted walnuts
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
6 large eggs, separated, and at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract (I added a bit more, just because I love the flavour)
pinch of cream of tartar

For the Rum Syrup:
1 3/4 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 or 3 tbsps dark rum

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In large bowl, stir together walnuts, flour, baking powder, and salt. (Don’t forget to sift what you can).

Put egg yoks in bowl and whites in stainless steel bowl. Whisk yolks, slowly adding 1/2 cup of sugar a bit a time (you will need 1 cup later on). Keep whisking until all sugar is incorporated and dissolved, and the yolks are creamy. Whisk in vanilla. Fold walnut mixture into egg yolks. Set aside

Use electric mixer at low speed to beat whites and cream of tartar until very frothy. Increase speed to medium until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and add remaining 1 cup of sugar, tablespoon at a time. (When I made this, I added all the sugar in the first part, and it turned out just fine). Beat until whites form stiff, glossy peaks.

Add large dollop of whites to walnut mixture to loosen batter. Carefully fold remaining whites into batter but be careful not to deflate it, just fold enough to incorporate them all into batter.

Lightly grease 10-inch round springform pan or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Put batter in pan, and smooth top. Bake until toothpick into centre of torte comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes.

While torte is baking, make syrup. Combine water and sugar in saucepan over high heat and cook until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and bring to rolling boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture is consistency of thick maple syrup. Book says 10 minutes, but it took me longer, so go by the consistency not by the time. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Let it cool a bit until it is just a bit warm.

Put the torte on a wire rack and pierce it all over with a skewer or toothpick. Then pour the syrup over top while the torte is still warm. Let it cool. Once cool, over with plastic wrap while still in pan. You can chill it until it is ready to serve. This is one torte that will taste better the next day. Leave it on the bottom of the springform pan as you might make a mess should you transfer it to another plate.

Substitutions: None, but next time I will add some runny honey to the syrup to give it a bit more of that Greek flavour.

Would I make this again? Indeed I would. It’s one of those recipes you can make in advance. And unless your are a complete pastry amateur, it’s hard to mess it up.

Grade: Four-and-a-half stars out of five. Simply because it’s appearance doesn’t do the dense nutty, syrupy flavour any justice. And sometimes people won’t just take your word for it.