Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chocolate Hazelnut Schaum Torte: A Family Recipe Revival

Unless you’re from Wisconsin, you may never have heard of Schaum Torte (foam cake), a favorite among German immigrant families.  You may have heard of this dessert called simply "a meringue," “Pavlova” or even a "Bizet."  Essentially all of the desserts are one in the same -- meringue, filled with sweetened whipped cream, and topped with fruit.  
Like pavlova, there are two schools of thought when it comes to schaum torte -- one side insists that the meringue be crisp on the outside, but squoodgy (marshmallowy) in the center; the other camp insists that a good schaum torte is dried and crisp throughout.  

My family staunchly swears by the first approach. In fact, I actually grew up utterly convinced that the women at church who made the crisp version were simply bad cooks who had made the mistake of baking their schaum tortes too long!!  Similarly, Peef has fond memories of sneaking seconds of the fabulous Schaum tortes made by members of the German-Lutheran Ladies' Aid at his church. Although his boyhood palate didn't discriminate against any sort of sugary goodness, he will confess that he always preferred the marshmallowy version to the "old crusty kind."

My grandmother, who turns 90 this March, has made Schaum torte every year for Easter for as long as I can remember.  Hers was always baked in a springform pan, flavored with both vanilla and almond extract, and topped with sliced strawberries (often those she picked and froze from her own garden). And it was always topped with freshly whipped cream.

I'll never forget the day I made my first schaum torte. It was toward the end of my senior year in high school, and I caught wind of the fact that my prom date loved the dessert.  Since we'd be gathering at a friend's house to hang out after the dinner and dance, I decided I'd surprise him with a homemade Schaum torte.  I called my grandmother and asked her for her recipe.  She even lent me her favorite 11-inch springform pan -- which she claimed gave the torte a particularly good rise.
The original recipe -- jotted into my notebook!
I was understandably nervous about the project. I'd never made a meringue before, and I was certain that all manners of tragedy would strike.  So, I followed her recipe to the very last detail... room temperature ingredients. Beat eggs for 15 minutes. Pour in sugar while beating (no stopping!). Add baking powder, lemon juice, and flavorings. Beat for another 15 minutes.  Spread into buttered springform -- and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
I held my breath during the last ten minutes of baking, but I didn't peak (she'd also warned me that peeking was a bad idea, since the meringue could fall).  Finally, I took my masterpiece from the oven. It was gorgeous -- the meringue had risen well and was towering above the edge of the springform pan like a mound of foam. I could see that the center was set -- but still tender -- while the top was crisp and crackery.  Just perfect.

If I remember correctly, everyone was too distracted by a number of prom night tragedies (a last minute break-up, some late-night miscommunication, an off-handed comment) to pay much attention to my torte. But, the act of making the torte became, itself, a kind of symbolic gesture -- something done out of love and affection.

Since that day, grandma's Schaum torte recipe has seen many variations. I've baked it in my own springform pan with great success. I've shaped it into individual tortes.  I've used the leftover egg yolks to make lemon curd to serve alongside. And I've served it with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and pomegranates.  This particular version happens to be a chocolate variation made with hazelnut extract, cocoa powder and little bits of bittersweet chocolate... layered with a bit of whipping cream, and embellished with fresh raspberries.  Honestly -- it might be one of my favorite versions.  After all, everything is better with chocolate, right?
Now, I know this is nothing more than shameless self-promotion. But, coincidentally, we've submitted this recipe to the "Family Recipe Revival" -- a local effort to bring back the treasured family recipes and renew the true meaning of mealtime—togetherness and bonding.  If you have a moment, please consider visiting the Recipe Revival web site to vote for our recipe.  You can vote for our recipe once a day through March 15, 2010... and we'll take all the votes we can get!

The Final Grand Prize winner gets a new cookware set, dinner for four in Chef’s studio and their recipe served on the Il Mito restaurant menu for an entire year. Net proceeds from the sale of that menu item goes to the charity of their choice.

If we win, we'll be donating the proceeds from the sale of our Schaum torte to the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, a local advocacy group that works to prevent hunger and malnutrition by providing food to people in need today and by promoting social policies to achieve food security tomorrow.


Recipe (on Burp! Recipes): Chocolate Hazelnut Schaum Torte

 
Schaum Torte on FoodistaSchaum Torte

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35 comments:

  1. Beautiful post, wonderful gesture! I voted, hope you win :)

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  2. That looks great!! Love all the pictures, too.

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  3. Delicious! This recipe looks amazing and I love the superb step by step instructions. Thanks!

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  4. wow! I have never heard of such a dessert. I must add to our list of things to try. Although I might have to come to WI! I have never seen it on a menu here in CA.

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  5. I love, love, love schaum torte. I will admit though, I'm a sucker for the crispy kind. It's something I make as regularly as I can in the summer months when there are fresh berries available. This version looks especially intriguing.

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  6. I must be too much of a Polish and Mexican Wisconsinite, since I've never heard of this torte! Shameless, no, since it looks wonderful and would be a welcome addition to a dessert menu. I've never made it to Il Mito, so I hope I can go and have this dessert there - I'll be a daily voter for sure.

    I'm considering starting another blog that is comprised only of recipes (links) I have to try. I fear, I'm starting to lose track...

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  7. I definitely will vote for your incredible looking light dessert. It looks absolutely delicious!

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  8. Good luck to you!

    You stole my heart with the words "chocolate" and "hazelnut" my most dearly-loved flavor combination on earth. I have had my share of similar desserts and I agree on the mooshy in the middle thing. It's too hard to eat a meringue that's crispy all the way through.

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  9. that looks so delicious! i love meringue so much -- my grandmother used to make it but i've never done it myself. But meringue with chocolate and hazelnut: wow!

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  10. Going to go vote now. And I need to visit Wisconsin. Seriously. German-American cheese and beer loving people who make classic German recipes. Yeah. I am so planning a trip your way.

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  11. wha happened? link to recipe broken...

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  12. Suzanne - The link should be fixed now! Thanks for alerting us to the problem.

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  13. First off, I love the idea of passing down favorite recipes and learning to cook and bake from mothers and grandmothers (fathers and grandfathers too). Your story about this was wonderful and I love the fact that you took a photo of the original recipe. Your "gradually add sugar -- don't stop" comment was classic.
    Second, this is GLUTEN-FREE, right?! I went and voted for it! Yippee, hope you win and hope I wasn't too late in the voting.

    Melissa
    xo

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  14. Melissa - Yes! It's gluten free. And you're totally not late in the voting. You can vote every day (once/day) through March 15th! Thanks for your vote!

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  15. This looks amazing, I have never heard of it before, but its making my mouth water!

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  16. I am so excited to make this. I dont think dessert can get any better!!!!

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  17. That looks absolutely great. And you also have really nice handwriting :)

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  18. 9 EGGS??!!! I can feel my arteries closing up. But....that definitely looks like it'll be worth the sacrifice. (vote: Slurrpalicious)

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  19. Slurrpalicious -- Well, 9 egg WHITES, so it's actually better than it looks :)

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  20. I've never heard of a schaum torte, but it looks amazing! I LOVE the original hand written recipe. So cool that you still have it.

    I'm heading off to vote for you right now!

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  21. Only recently discovered pavlova in New Zealand where it is somewhat of an institution. Can't wait to try your chocolate version. Consider me in the "squoodgy" camp for sure. Family recipes are the best ones. I voted!

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  22. I've never heard of schaum torte, but it sounds extra delicious!

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  23. What can I say execpt for Mmmmmm and nom, nom? Oh and I voted :)

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  24. It looks amazing! I love schaum torte too...

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  25. This recipe sounds really delicious!If you won't mind, I'd love to guide foodista readers to your site.Just add your choice of Foodista widget at the end of this blog post and you're all set. Thanks!

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  26. O that looks seriously good! I love meringue in most of it's forms!! I will now go and vote for you ofcourse!

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  27. I'm always afraid to do a pavlova(or schaum)due to a bad first trial in the deep South. Your beautiful story inspired me to try again, and to vote for you! Good luck.

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  28. Visiting from Foodie BlogRoll link. Your recipes look absolutely delicious! The pictures are beautiful! Thanks for the inspiration :)

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  29. Check out the Foodie Blogroll! You guys are one of the five random blogs. It was way cool to see your name there.

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  30. Just serfing around in blogland and found you guys ... I am ABSOLUTELY loving your blog!
    Thanks for sharing this recipe ... I can't wait to try it.
    Mrs.B

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  31. Wow, this looks amazing and not complicated. I just might have enough room in my kitchen to try this.

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  32. What an amazingly delicious family heirloom! Sounds so good - I have never had a chocolate meringue!

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  33. aw, great recipe and homage to your family! this treat is a new one to me, but it's absolutely the most tempting thing i've seen all week. incidentally, i intend to use the word 'squoodgy' at least three times today. :)

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