Chocolate Torte for Passover!

Chocolate torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

I baked this cake for my dear friend Jen’s 40th Birthday. Just a private little torte for one, or 5 if she decided to share with her family. She’d had a lavish soiree at D’Amico Kitchen and phenomenal cupcakes from my favorite Minneapolis bakery, The Salty Tart. On the quiet Tuesday of Jen’s actual birthday she needed a cake. Her favorite sweet combination is chocolate and peanut butter. I decided to combine my devil’s food with a peanut butter buttercream icing. Because Passover is on my mind I tried my devil’s food recipe with matzo meal and it is a revelation, I may even prefer it and that is saying something! Matzo meal is something I usually only have on hand this time of year, but I may start to keep it in my pantry just for this recipe.

To get the evenly spaced stripes on the cake I used a cake decorating comb, which allows you to fancify your torte quickly and easily.

Other Favorite Passover Desserts:

Chocolate Caramel Matzo

Haystack Macaroons

Fruit Jellies

Passover Devil’s Food:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup Matzo Cake Meal

1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Scharffen Berger Natural Cocoa Powder, not Dutch-processed), sift if it has lumps

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 small eggs (if you get large eggs pick the two smallest ones from the carton)

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup hot coffee

2 tablespoons rum or brandy (or more coffee)

Peanut Butter Buttercream:

1 recipe White Chocolate Buttercream

1 cup Peanut Butter (I used chunky peanut butter, but it would also be great with the creamy variety)

To make the cake:

Heat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8×2-inch cake pans with butter and parchment paper rounds.

Combine all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and whisk until combined, set aside.

Whisk together, eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, coffee and rum until well combined. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth. Fill the prepared cake pans and tap them on the counter to bring any air bubbles to the surface.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before assembling the cake. Can be made ahead and frozen.

To prepare the buttercream:

Prepare the white chocolate buttercream. Split the recipe in two large bowls. Add the peanut butter to one of the bowls and mix until very smooth and well combined. Cover both bowls and set aside.

Cutting chocolate cake in half to create layers | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Once the cake has cooled split the two layers in half with a super slicer.

Peanut butter icing on a chocolate cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Separate out 1/4 of the Peanut Butter Buttercream for piping on the top of the finished cake. Place 1/3 of the remaining peanut butter icing on the first layer and spread out evenly, but do not go all the way to the edge. Repeat for the other two layers of icing and three layers of cake.

To decorate the cake you will need these tools:

Fat Daddio’s Pastry Bags

Ateco Decorating Comb


Ateco Extra Wide Pastry Decorating Tip, Set of 3

Wilton Professional Turntable

Chocolate torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Place a large blob (1 cup) of the white chocolate buttercream on top of your cake.

Chocolate torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Spread it evenly and flat with your spatula. Don’t get too crazy about it being perfectly smooth, because you are going to pipe the peanut butter icing over it.

Chocolate torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Crumb coat the sides of the cake by applying a very thin layer of the white chocolate buttercream. Cake will show through and that is alright for now. Refrigerate the cake at this point for about 15-20 or until the buttercream on the cake is a bit stiff. This will help to keep the dark chocolate cake from getting crumbs on the outside of your white icing.

Chocolate torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Once the icing is set up on cake then apply a thicker layer of the icing to the sides. The top doesn’t need anymore.

Chocolate torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Don’t worry about smoothing it out until the entire thing is covered in a nice thick layer.

Chocolate torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Smooth out the sides a bit with your spatula and then use the comb to create the ridges/stripes on the sides. Hold the cake comb straight up and down, but at a slight angle into the cake. If you do not hold it at this slight angle the comb will scrape off the icing too much. You need to have a very light touch and hold the comb steady as you turn the cake stand. Never move the comb, just rotate the stand. I think this would be a great video, don’t you? I’ll get a video camera one of these days!

Chocolate torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Combine any leftover white chocolate buttercream with the peanut butter icing and mix well. Fill the pastry bag, fitted with the decorating tip, with the icing. Pipe the peanut butter icing on to the top of the cake, starting with a ring around the outside edge and then move to the center until it is completely covered.

Chocolate torte | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Serve at room temperature. Enjoy!