Rehrücken, a quintessential Viennese dessert, makes a grand appearance on any holiday table. Coated with dark chocolate and decorated with slivered almonds, it’s supposed to resemble a roasted saddle, or double loin, of venison. The almond spikes mimic the tiny strips of salt pork inserted into lean deer meat to baste it during cooking.
As with cocoa-dusted chocolate truffles, which mimic wild truffles that sometimes grow underground near oak trees, both treats are culinary jokes. Amusement aside, this elegant chocolate cake looks festive on the holiday table and tastes even better.
For the best cake texture, it’s best to grate the chocolate to get tiny flakes that melt easily into the batter.
Ideally this cake is baked in a ribbed, 12-inch, four-cup capacity rehrücken mold. These are available through Amazon and from many other kitchenware sources.
You can also use a 12 x 5-inch loaf pan. It won’t be a saddle of venison cake, but it will still look and taste exceptional.
- 2 teaspoons butter, melted, for mold
- 1¼ cups (4½ ounces) almond meal, at room temperature
- 1½ ounces bittersweet 72 percent chocolate, grated, such as Trader Joe’s
- 1 tablespoon potato starch
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons white sugar, plus extra for mold
- Zest of 1 small lemon
- CHOCOLATE GLAZE
- 4 ounces bittersweet 72 percent chocolate, finely chopped and melted
- 2 tablespoons grape seed or canola oil
- Blanched almond slivers
- Freshly whipped heavy cream, to serve
Heat the oven to 350° F. Brush a 12-inch rehrücken mold with melted butter. Coat with sugar, making sure you cover the entire surface, and tap out any excess. This tastes like butterscotch when baked and provides a smooth surface for the chocolate glaze.
Combine the almond meal, grated chocolate, potato starch and spices in a bowl, stir well and reserve.
Using a handheld electric beater, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the sugar and beat for another 30 seconds. Set aside.
In a separate bowl but using the same beaters, beat the egg yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale and a lifted beater leaves a slowly dissolving trail on the surface, about 4 minutes. Grate the lemon zest finely on top. Add one-quarter of the beaten egg whites and stir in to lighten the batter. Fold in one-third of the almond mix. Fold in the remaining egg whites and almond flour mixture in alternate batches. Transfer to the pan and knock sharply on the counter to dispel any air bubbles.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the cake shrinks slightly from the edges of the pan and is springy to a light finger touch. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Carefully loosen the edges and both ends with a knife tip. Give the pan a little shake to make sure the cake is loose and turn out on a rack. Leave until cold or overnight if more convenient.
To make the glaze: Melt the chocolate in a small bowl and stir in the oil. Let stand for 5 minutes to thicken slightly. Place a sheet of foil under the rack holding the cake to catch drips. Holding the bowl about 2 inches above the cake, pour the glaze back and forth across the width to cover it completely. Run a small spatula down the middle indentation to move excess glaze and fix any missed spots.
Pick out about 50 perfectly shaped long, pointed almond slivers. Insert upright rows of 7 in the grooves between every second “rib.” Refrigerate to set the glaze. Serve each “double rib” slice with a dollop of schlag (whipped cream) on the side.
Cook’s tip: To bake the rehrücken in a 12-inch loaf pan instead of the mold, follow the directions and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Apply the chocolate glaze as above and cover the sides of the cake with toasted sliced almonds instead of slivered almonds.
Nutrition Analysis: 330 cal, 24 g fat, 70 mg chol, 25 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 8 g protein.
Recipes © copyright 2014 by Jacqueline Mallorca
Gluten-Free Living Food Editor Jackie Mallorca has more than a dozen cookbooks to her credit. Her latest titles include The Wheat-Free Cook and Gluten-Free Italian.