A flour-free cake, whipped egg whites allow the crumb to soufflé up while baking, but because all of the ground walnuts and chocolate in the cake, the layers subsequently sink down some while cooling. What you are left with is a heavy and nutty cake texture, which is then filled with a sweet and rich chocolate walnut filling. A walnut buttercream finishes the cake, making a delicious, walnut-laden dessert. The Old-World flavor of the cake comes from a Hungarian tradition to use walnuts in any way possible.
This Walnut Cream Cake recipe is excerpted from the Fenyves’ family cookbook, now part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum archives. Esteemed chef and owner of Pomegranate Hospitality, Alon Shaya, and Holocaust survivor, Steven Fenves, are working together to restore recipes lost, like this beloved cake recipe, translating the recipes from Hungarian to English.
- 4½ cups (504 grams) toasted walnut pieces or halves*
- 8 large eggs (400 grams), separated
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 teaspoons (6 grams) Morton’s kosher salt, divided
- 1¼ cups granulated sugar (250 grams), divided
- Zest of 2 lemons (4 to 5 grams), divided
- 2 cups (340 grams) dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate, divided
- ¾ cup (72 grams) almond flour
- 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
- 12 ounces (340 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1½ cups (180 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- ¾ teaspoon (3 grams) vanilla extract
- Garnish: toasted walnut pieces or halves**
- In a meat grinder, grind walnuts until ground and fluffy. (Alternatively, in the work bowl of a food processor, place walnuts; process until ground and fluffy.) Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper; butter parchment.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until stiff peaks form; beat in 1 teaspoon (3 grams) salt. Transfer egg white mixture to a medium bowl.
- Clean bowl of stand mixer and whisk attachment. Using the whisk attachment, beat egg yolks, ½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar, and half of zest at high speed until pale in color and light and fluffy, stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
- In the top of a double boiler, place 1 cup (170 grams) chocolate. Heat over simmering water until melted. (Alternatively, in a small microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate on high in 15-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted.) Whisk melted chocolate into egg yolk mixture.
- Fold in 1 cup (112 grams) ground walnuts and almond flour until well combined. Gently fold in egg white mixture in three additions, being careful to keep as much air in mixture as possible. Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake until a butter knife comes out clean with no raw batter attached to the blade and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 208°F (98°C), 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack. Slice cooled cake into thirds horizontally.
- In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups (224 grams) ground walnuts, milk, and remaining ¾ cup (150 grams) granulated sugar. Heat over medium heat until bubbles form around sides of pan; cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and fold in remaining 1 cup (170 grams) chocolate. Stir until well combined, and let cool to room temperature.
- Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter; spread half of walnut filling on cake layer. Place second cake layer on top. Spread remaining walnut filling on cake layer, and top with remaining cake layer. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Trim cake edges so it is a rectangle with straight edges. (Keep trimmed pieces for snacks.)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat butter, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, remaining 1 cup (112 grams) ground walnuts, remaining lemon zest, and remaining 1 teaspoon (3 grams) salt at high speed until light and fluffy, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Spread icing on top of cake, and garnish with toasted walnut halves, if desired. Best to serve at room temperature.
**The original recipe calls to garnish with ½ cup (112 grams) toasted walnut halves or pieces