Walnut Mocha Torte

German-style torte made with ground walnuts, whipped eggs, and bread crumbs, and a mocha whipped cream frosting.

To get started on this recipe, the first things you should do are to make the coffee for the frosting and to separate the eggs for the cake batter. Eggs will separate better when they are cold, right out of the refrigerator, but will whip up better if they are at room temp. So separate them first, and then prep the rest of the ingredients.

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Makes 12 servings.

Ingredients

Cake:

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup (200 g) white granulated sugar (divided into 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup (120 g) finely ground walnuts (from about 1 1/3 cup of shelled walnuts)
  • 1/2 cup (55 g) fine dry bread crumbs (plain, unseasoned)

Mocha Topping:

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) white granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1 cup (8 fluid ounces, 236 ml) strong coffee (I use decaf, with twice the amount of coffee for the liquid as I would usually use to drink)
  • 1 ounce (30 g) of chocolate chips (a little less than 1/4 of a cup)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 fluid ounces, 236 ml) heavy whipping cream

Method

1 Separate the eggs, into yolks and whites (see How to Separate Eggs).  Take care to make sure there are no pieces of shell or egg yolk in the whites, and that the bowl you are using to contain them is completely clean with no residue of fat. Any fat from yolks or oil will make it difficult to beat the egg whites.

2 Prepare two 9-inch cake pans. Line the pans with parchment paper or wax paper. Lightly butter the sides of the pans (not the paper).

3 Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Mix together the ground walnuts and the bread crumbs in a small bowl and set aside.

walnut-mocha-torte-1 walnut-mocha-torte-2

Place the egg yolks into a mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Slowly add  3/4 cup of white sugar and continue to beat the egg yolks until thick and pale. (I use a hand mixer for this.)

walnut-mocha-torte-3 walnut-mocha-torte-4

5 Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until foamy.  Slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of white sugar, and beat until soft peaks form.

walnut-mocha-torte-5 walnut-mocha-torte-6

6 With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture, alternately with the walnut mixture.

walnut-mocha-torte-11

7 Spoon the batter into the prepared, parchment-layered cake pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350°F (175°C) until a slight imprint remains when touched.

walnut-mocha-torte-7 walnut-mocha-torte-8walnut-mocha-torte-9 walnut-mocha-torte-10

8 While the cake is cooking prepare the mocha frosting base. Place 1/2 cup of white sugar and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into a saucepan. Turn the heat onto medium and gradually stir in the coffee and the chocolate chips.  Stir continuously until the mixture starts to simmer and thicken quite substantially. Continue to stir while the mixture simmers for 1 minute. Then remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla extract until well blended.  Let cool completely. (You will incorporate this mocha base into whipped cream when you frost the cake.)

walnut-mocha-torte-12 walnut-mocha-torte-13

9 Remove the cakes from oven and cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a dull knife around the edges of the cakes to separate it from the sides of the pans. Carefully invert the cakes onto a rack. Carefully peel back and discard the parchment or wax paper. Let cool completely.  Note that if you want to make ahead, you can cook the cakes first, let cool to room temp, wrap with plastic wrap, and freeze until you are ready to frost and serve.

walnut-mocha-torte-14 walnut-mocha-torte-15

10 Complete the frosting. Whip the cream until it is rather thick, just before that point to which if you kept on whipping it would turn to butter. This will help it hold up as a frosting. Once whipped, fold the whipped cream and mocha base together. It may be a little speckled, and if you fold it only lightly, you can have almost a marbling effect of light and dark with the frosting, if you wish.  Place one cake on a serving platter. Frost the top. Place the second cake on top of it, and frost the top and sides of the cake.  Serve immediately, or keep chilled until serving.

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.

Comments

  1. Alissa N

    Gorgeous!! We made a similar cake in culinary school, it was sooo delicious, love the look of this recipe!! I also love that it is a bit less traditional for Valentines Day, unexpected yummyness!! :)

  2. LaWanda

    I must admit the idea of breadcrumbs turned me off (when I think breadcrumbs I think savory); however, you had me at “… light, creamy frosting with a lovely chocolate coffee mocha flavor.” Of course, I could never pull off such a decadent dessert. Instead, I will just drool all over my keyboard.

    • Gabriele ( Gabi)

      This is so easy- you will not regret making it… I make this for everyone in my family, even my now 13 year old son has been asking for this for his birthday cake for years! I have made it with coffee substitute like Inka or Pero and it works just fine…. can always add a lttle more chocolate for kids… please try- you will not regret it!
      Gabriele ( it is “my” recipe)

  3. Judi

    Since moving from Georgia to California, walnuts have eclipsed pecans as my favorite nut for baking. I can not wait to make this! I looks perfectly delicious!!
    Thank you for passing along this lovely recipe!

  4. Janet

    This looks and sounds amazing! Your opinion please, I’m allergic to walnuts and wonder if you think substituting pecans would work equally as well? I visit your site quite often and have enjoyed so many of your recipes. Thanks for your time and know you’re appreciated.

    • Elise

      Hi Janet, great question. I love the taste of pecans. I’m guessing that they would work fine in this recipe. If you make it with them, please let us know how it turns out!

    • Jan

      Years ago I made a similar cake that used ground hazelnuts and plain breadcrumb with a chocolate frosting. It was a big hit at the office. Sadly, I lost the recipe and I am so grateful to have this one to try to duplicate my best-tasting cake.ever. Thank you.

  5. Food Wine Fashion

    I’m loving this recipe, we’re doing a night in for Valentine’s in my house and this might just top the night off! Thank you (and Gabriele) for sharing!

    -jessica

  6. natalie @ wee eats

    This looks so perfect, I can practically taste it through my computer screen

  7. Katherine @ our peas + carrots

    This looks very delicious! I think walnuts and coffee are a match made in heaven (once I made sweet walnut and coffee ravioli … delicious). I’ve baked something quite similar to this once, except the cake part was more of a meringue. Does this cake have a denser, truly cake-like texture (crunchy due to the walnuts, I assume), or is it meringue-like?

    • Elise

      Hi Katherine, The cake is actually rather soft, and not crunchy, but definitely not meringue-like. Well, maybe the edges are sort of meringue-ish, but the interior is oddly soft.

  8. Kathy

    Elise ~ I’m new to the gluten free world, but my daughter is now GF. Do you think this would work as well with GF bread crumbs? Thanks!

    • Elise

      Hi Kathy, If I were making this gluten-free, I would first try it by substituting the bread crumbs with just another half cup of ground walnuts. Sometimes the gluten-free “bread crumbs” I see is really just cornmeal, which I don’t think would work well here. But perhaps a gluten-free bread crumb that more resembled wheat bread crumbs would work.

      • Shelly

        I wanted to make this GF and tried the extra 1/2 cup of walnuts instead of the bread crumbs. It turned out great, other than the cake falling a little in the middle (which is very common the first time I try a scratch cake recipe at altitude).

        The cakes did not look good at all coming out of the oven, but once covered in the mocha whipped cream it didn’t matter. Oooohs and aaaaahs for presentation and taste all around my table :).

  9. Cathy

    This is a truly delicious dessert and todays is Shrove Tuesday folks!
    We should be doing pancakes !

  10. Sues

    This looks like perfection! A little different than the average dessert and absolutely beautiful!

  11. Sara N.

    This looks fabulous but we don’t eat coffee in anything in my household. Is it possible to make the frosting chocolate and, if so, how? I love your blog, by the way.

    • Elise

      Hi Sara, I assume so, but your guess is as good as mine as to how to go about it.

    • Gabriele ( Gabi)

      See my post above- coffee substitute – chicory or other grain type gives it the Mocha taste without the coffee…

  12. Bella

    It looks divine! For us non-coffee consumers, is there an alternative?

  13. Meryl

    This looks so yum! I would love to make this for passover but need to modify. Matzoh meal for the bread crumbs I know will work fine. But the other change is I need to use something besides corn starch to stabilize the frosting. It needs to be non-grain based. Gelatin is also not good. The two that come to mind are arrowroot or potato starch. I haven’t really cooked with either of these. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Chris

      I’ve read that arrowroot doesn’t work as well with dairy as other starches, but I can’t speak from experience. I personally would go with tapioca starch, assuming that is also acceptable.

  14. Liz @ Virtually Homemade

    My Mom made a torte like this when I was little. It was so good! This looks just as lovely.

  15. Buffy Alten

    OMG! Can’t wait to make this, it looks so good!

  16. Gerry @ Foodness Gracious

    This looks amazing and the filling sound so light! It reminds me of a chocolate bar I would have as a kid back in the U.K. It was called a walnut whip…

  17. Trisha

    Wow this looks great! Old recipes are the best! I have similar recipes in older cookbooks ( I love to collect cookbooks, lol), but you dont see it much anymare! Thanks for sharing!

  18. Vickie H.

    Wow – that looks great! I think it will make the perfect Valentine’s Day dessert for us!

  19. Jayne

    I love walnuts. Interesting that this torte uses walnuts instead of the regular almonds. Very pretty!

  20. Rosemarie Tomes

    It was a great pity that I did not see this wonderful looking recipe till today, and now it is Lent!! So, I will keep it and try it for Easter instead – as you say, coffee and walnuts are just made for each other, and this looks like a marriage made in heaven.

  21. Sandy S

    I am realy looking forward to making this torte! Being GF, I think I will try finely crushed GF crackers. This torte took me back many years to when my mother would make ‘Kiss Me’ pie made with soda crackers and pecans. I found this recipe online http://allrecipes.com/recipe/soda-cracker-pie/. Hence my idea for using the GF crackers for the torte. Many thank yous for all the great recipes Elise! The recent ground chicken-lettuce wraps will become a regular event here!

  22. Paige

    I have found that concentrated chai tea (can be found in cartons in the tea/coffee aisle) is a great alternative to coffee in recipes. It gives any recipe a spice flair. I also was curious about trying this as a gluten-free recipe and am thinking that rice flour or garbanzo flour might be interesting substitutes for the bread crumbs.

    • Sandy S

      Paige, I love all of your ideas! Please keep us posted here with up-dates of how they turn out. I will do the same. Though I am a great coffee drinker, I can’t wait to try the chai tea! Home-made GF breads using rice and or garbonzo flour for the read crumbs might also be a way to go.

  23. Rocky Mountain Woman

    That looks perfect for tomorrow. I love mocha!

  24. Sausha

    Good Afternoon,

    I have tried to make the frosting for this twice now. When I go to add the coffee/chocolate mix to the whipped heavy cream, it turns into liquid. I let the chocolate cool to room temperature both times.
    Is there a trick that I am missing?
    Thank you,
    Sausha

    • Elise

      Hi Sausha, that’s weird. Perhaps the whipped cream needs to be whipped until it’s a bit thicker? Gabi whips hers until it’s almost turning to butter, which I have tried to do as well. I also find it helps to whip the cream in a bowl that has chilled first, to help keep the cream and frosting cold. I put my mixer bowl in the freezer.

  25. Kimberly O

    Made this last night and it was delightful! I baked all of the batter in one rectangular pan and sliced it into loaf-like slabs. It had a texture similar to that of an angel food cake (from all the whipped egg whites, I suppose). It was amazing! Love the coffee topping – I could’ve just eaten the chocolate/coffee mix without the cream, too. Thank you!

  26. Corinna

    I do not own a stand mixer such as a Kitchen Aid, so I’ve always been nervous about recipes calling for one in the instructions. Any tips from others would be greatly appreciated.

    • Gabriele ( Gabi)

      I simply use a regular hand held mixer. I do have a separate attachment for the whipping cream. All in all, very simple to make and Elise did a wonderful job giving step by step instructions!

  27. Valorie

    I made this tonight for a little dinner party and it was amazing. Lovely texture & flavors. Everyone (including me) was blown away, especially after I told them what was in it. Thanks for posting this. I love your blog, Elise.

  28. Nancy

    Thank you for this recipe. Made it last weekend and my family loved it!

  29. Nancy

    Kind of a “PS” here: I made the frosting all chocolate by substituting water for the coffee and following the preparation exactly as you had written it. Folded into stiffly beaten whipped cream it was delicious.

  30. Sofya @ The Girls' Guide to Guns and Butter

    That looks really good! Like something from my native Azerbaijan.

  31. Erica

    I made this last night with gluten-free breadcrumbs and it was absolutely perfect. I’ve been a regular reader for years and have made many of your recipes (the Moroccan chicken is a particular favourite!) and have never been let down. Thanks!

  32. Teju

    This might be a silly question, but can I use panko bread crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs? I’m on a tight budget and I would rather not buy more bread crumbs when I already have some at home. I wonder if it would ruin the flavor?

    • Elise

      Usually one uses panko when you want a really dry crust for deep frying. I guess you could use it if you wanted. But you might be better off just taking a few ends from a loaf of bread, drying them out in a 200°F oven for a bit, then pulverizing in a blender or food processor.

  33. Lisa

    I am not a really good baker. I could not resist this recipe. Made it just as written. I was fabulous. I felt like a real star. My husband was crazy for it. I am making this again for Easter. Can’t wait for everyone to taste.

  34. ellina

    Hello Elise! I made this for my best friend’s birthday and it was a huge, huge hit! I only had one 9-inch pan, so I baked all the batter in it, then waited for the cake to cool completely and split it in two. I also added two tblsps icing sugar to the cream. I had no problems with the frosting, but I did whip it until it was very stiff. Thank you very much!

  35. Dasha

    Torte looks absolutely delicious! After successfully making the Suzanne’s chocolate cake this one is next on my to do list. I have a question though. How would you make ground walnuts? In the food processor? How coarse should they be? I’m guessing similar to bread crumbs but I’d like to know for sure. Thanks!

    • Elise

      I would grind them in the food processor until as finely ground as possible. But don’t grind them to the point that they become a paste. You want a flour-like consistency, or close to it.

      • Dasha

        I made this cake for my birthday last week. The texture was very different from traditional cake but we really enjoyed it! I would definitely make it again for people who appreciate homemade desserts. IT was very easy to make too. My only question is: the cake layers rose up to 2 inches in the oven but after I took them out fell back to about 1 in thick. Is it to be expected or where my egg whites not beaten enough? (I always struggle with this part). Thanks!

        • Elise

          That’s about right. That’s what happens when so much of your leavening comes from eggs.

  36. Olive

    Hi Elise! Can I use instant coffee granules for this? How much tbsps of coffee granules should I use? I’m not much of a coffee drinker, so any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Elise

      Just make a cup of very strong coffee with your instant coffee granules. Whatever the instant coffee proportions the directions call for for one cup, double it.

  37. Nor

    Hi Elise
    Thanks for the recipe. Made this yesterday and it is so good. I reduced the sugar from 1 cup to 3/4cup for the cake and for the frosting reduce from 1/2 cup to 1/3 cup. Love the frosting .. Yummm

  38. Sanda

    Elise, this cake was wonderful! I made five different deserts for a family gathering and this one was the first one to go. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

  39. Sophia

    Compared to other tortes I have made, this one was very easy to make and turned out absolutely perfect. I was concerned that it would be too sweet but it wasn’t. The cake layers were very moist and the coffee cream was luscious. Thanks for sharing.