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How to make Torta Setteveli – the Seven Veils Cake
This cake is as beloved across the whole of Sicily as it is in Palermo villas. The seven veils refers to the seven strata of the cake, making this delightful treat a time consuming affair usually reserved for special occasions. And what could be a more special occasion than the Easter break? when the cake is often made.
Use your favourite recipe to make the chocolate sponge cake in a 10-1/2 inch spring form pan. You will also be wetting the cut surfaces with simple syrup, made from equal parts water and sugar, brought to a boil and chilled.
The cake should be fully cooled and the simple syrup cold before you begin final preparation.
First, trim the cake top to insure it is flat, then slice in half lengthwise, producing two half thickness 10-1/2 inch rounds. Place one at the bottom of a 10-inch spring-form pan, cut edge up. Dab this surface with the simple syrup until damp, then refrigerate.
For the next layer, Praline, uses crushed corn flakes that give some crunch. Melt together in a double boiler:
2-1/2 ounces dark chocolate;
1-3/4 tbs butter;
6 tbs hazelnut paste.
1-3/4 cups cornflakes, crushed a bit.
Spread praline evenly on cake, and return it to the refrigerator.
The next layer, hazelnut Bavarian cream, requires an ice bath that can hold a good sized mixing bowl.
In a large saucepan, heat to scalding:
1/2 cup whole milk;
1/2 cup heavy cream;
7 tbs hazelnut paste.
While heating, whisk together in a new bowl…
5 egg yolks and
1/2 cup granulated sugar
…until the mixture is uniform and pale. When the milk has scalded, remove from heat and add…
3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
…and stir to incorporate. Temper this egg mixture with the hot milk a bit at a time, whisking continuously. When incorporated return it to the saucepan and slowly heat to 160°F, stirring regularly. Transfer mixture to the ice bath, and let it cool while stirring.
2 cups heavy cream
…to the soft peak stage, and fold one third into the chilled hazelnut mixture, combine, then repeat twice more until both are fully incorporated.
Spread half onto the cake, then place in freezer for 15 minutes to set cream.
When set, add the other cake round to the pan, treating cut cake surfaces as before. Return to freezer for ten minutes, then apply the remaining cream, and back to the freezer for 45 minutes.
The chocolate mousse for the next layer starts with a chocolate ganache made from…
5-1/4 ounces dark chocolate, cut into small pieces, and…
…a scant 2/3 cups heavy cream.
Heat cream to a very low boil, then pour it over the cut up chocolate pieces and stir until mixed.
Whip 1 cup heavy cream until the soft peak stage, and leave it unrefrigerated so it can warm through slightly to avoid seizing the chocolate. When the ganache has cooled to about 100°F, fold in the whipped cream by thirds to combine.
After the Bavarian cream on the cake in the freezer has set, remove the spring-form rim from the cake. Apply the mousse to the top and sides of the cake, making sure it’s as smooth as possible. Freeze for 45 minutes.
The chocolate glaze covers the finished cake. In a saucepan bring…
1/3 cups water,
1/3 cups heavy cream,
6 tbs cocoa powder, and
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs granulated sugar
…to a boil while whisking. Boil for four minutes, continuously whisking. Remove from heat and add…
3/4 tsp unflavoured gelatine
…and stir. Let cool to 90°F, and then take cake from freezer and place on a baking rack set on a sheet pan. Carefully pour the glaze over the cake, covering it slowly and evenly to insure it is completely glazed.
Garnish with chocolate shavings, and return to the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving.