Ambrosia Patisserie Chocolate-Rum Truffle Cake

A host of popular flavors — almond, vanilla and raspberry, along with chocolate and rum — take on a variety of roles in this big production number. This dessert is almost a course in the art of pastry making all by itself. The biscuit decor is similar to a roulade; meringue is folded into the batter so that it is flexible after baking.


Biscuit Decor Sheet

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup egg whites (about 6 whites)
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract or vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder


  • 3 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Rum Syrup

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Myers dark rum, or to taste

Chocolate Bavarian Cream

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup creme Anglaise (see below)
  • 3 cups heavy (whipping) cream

Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream

Chocolate-Rum Truffles

  • 15 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Myers dark rum, to taste
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Mocha Butter Cream

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons coffee extract or double-strength brewed espresso


  • 1 1/4 cups apricot jam
  • 1 1/2 cups creme Anglaise (see below)
  • 6 tablespoons raspberry puree (see below)
  • Unhulled fresh strawberries, halved
  • Fresh raspberries

Creme Anglaise

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, heated
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon butter at room temperature (optional)

Cooked Berry Puree or Sauce

  • 4 cups fresh berries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar or more to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry liqueur or eau-de-vie (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or more to taste


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a 13 x 17-inch baking pan with parchment paper or wax paper.
  2. Biscuit Decor Sheet: Combine the egg yolks, egg and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at high speed until mixture is pale in color and thick, about 10 minutes. Add the extract. Fold the flour into the egg mixture. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the 2 tablespoons sugar until stiff, glossy peaks form. Remove one-third of the batter to a separate bowl, and fold the cocoa into it. Refrigerate the remaining batter. Place the chocolate batter in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip, and pipe diagonal stripes onto the prepared pan. The stripes should be 1/2- to 3/4-inches thick and spaced 1 inch apart. Place in the freezer until firm to the touch.
  3. Carefully spread the reserved batter over the chocolate. Smooth lightly, so the darker lines are not disturbed. Place in the oven and bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then remove from the pan. Trim the edges to square them off, then cut into 1-inch-wide-lengthwise strips. Set aside.
  4. Genoise: Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan, and line it with parchment paper or waxed paper. Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk together over simmering water until warm to the touch. Remove and beat with the machine until the mixture cools, about 10 minutes. The mixture will double in volume. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, then add the vanilla extract. Fold the butter into the batter, and pour into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool for a few minutes, then remove from the pan. Let the cake cook completely. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut the browned outside surface from the top, bottom and sides of the cake. Carefully split the cake horizontally into 3 layers. Set aside.
  6. Chocolate Bavarian Cream: In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate. Place the water in a cup and sprinkle the gelatin over it. Let sit for 2 minutes. In a small saucepan, combine the creme Anglaise and gelatin mixture and heat over low heat until the gelatin dissolves. Stir the creme Anglaise mixture into the melted chocolate. Let cool to lukewarm. In a deep bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form, then fold it into the chocolate. Let sit until ready to use.
  7. Ganache: In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Stir the warm cream into the chocolate, being careful not to beat air into the mixture. Reserve 1 cup for the top of the torte and keep warm. Refrigerate the remaining ganache.
  8. Chocolate-Rum Truffles: In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt 9 ounces of the chocolate. In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter and sugar and heat over low heat until the butter and sugar are melted. Pour the cream mixture into the chocolate and stir until mixed. Let cool slightly, then stir in the rum. Refrigerate until firm.
  9. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, melt the remaining 6 ounces of chocolate. Place the cocoa in a pie tin. Roll the chilled truffle mixture into 1-inch balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet. You will have 24 to 30 truffles. Refrigerate again for a few minutes. Dip each ball into the melted chocolate to coat, then drop the ball into the cocoa and coat it by shaking the container. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, and repeat until all balls are coated. Refrigerate until needed.
  10. Mocha Butter Cream: In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Cook over medium heat until the syrup is light golden and registers 242 degrees F on a candy thermometer or reaches the soft ball stage: A small amount dropped into cold water forms a soft and pliable ball. Let cool slightly.
  11. Place the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, and begin to beat at high speed. Gradually add the sugar syrup and continue to beat until the mixture cools. Gradually add the butter, beating after each addition and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the coffee extract or espresso.
  12. To assemble the cake: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper. Place an 8-inch stainless-steel ring that is 3 inches deep or so on the prepared pan. Place 1 layer of the Genoise in the bottom of the ring. Line the sides of the ring with the bisquit decor, placing it in the ring with the chocolate-striped side facing the sides. Be sure to press the sections together tightly. Brush the sides and bottom generously with the rum syrup.
  13. Whip the chilled ganache in an electric mixer until creamy, then place it in a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Spread a layer of chocolate Bavarian cream over the Genoise. Pipe a layer of the ganache on top of the cream. Add a second layer of Genoise, and gently press it down to bond. Brush the Genoise with rum syrup, then repeat the layers of chocolate Bavarian cream and ganache. Place the last layer of Genoise on top, and again press down gently. Brush the top with rum syrup, and place the cake in the freezer until firm.
  14. Remove the cake from the freezer, and wrap a hot towel around the ring for a few seconds to help unmold it. Invert the cake onto the center of a cardboard cake round (preferably gold). Remove the ring. Spread a thin layer of buttercream over the top to seal the porous pastry. Smooth with a wet knife, removing excess. Chill again until the buttercream is firm.
  15. In a small, heavy pan, warm the jam over low heat. Push the jam through a fine-meshed sieve with the back of a large spoon. Using a pastry brush, coat the sides of the torte with the apricot glaze to seal the sponge. This will retain moisture and give a beautiful sheen. Remove any excess glaze from around the edge of the torte.
  16. The reserve unrefrigerated ganache should now be warm enough to spread, but not so warm that it will melt the buttercream. Ladle the ganache onto the center of the top of the cake, and smooth it outward without going over the edge onto the sides. It should just cover the top. Wipe off any drips from the sides. While the ganache is still warm, space 10 truffles around the outer edge of the top. Refrigerate again.
  17. To serve: Use a warmed knife to cut the cake. Be sure to clean off the knife after each cut to assure attractive servings. Place 1 wedge on each dessert plate. Ladle 2 tablespoons of creme Anglaise alongside each portion. Dot the cream in 5 or 6 places with the raspberry sauce, and use the point of a knife to pull downward through each dot, making hearts. Brush the strawberries with some of the apricot glaze, and garnish the plates with the strawberries and raspberries.
  18. Creme Anglaise: In a medium, heavy saucepan, whisk the egg yolks over low heat until they are pale in color. Whisk in the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, then whisk until the mixture reaches the consistency of cake batter.
  19. Whisk in the milk and vanilla bean, if using, then stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the custard coats the spoon and a line drawn down the back of the spoon remains visible. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using, or remove vanilla-bean pods.
  20. If the custard is to be chilled, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming, or dot the top with bits of optional butter. Chill the custard for up to 2 days.
  21. Note: If the custard begins to overheat and the egg yolks are forming lumps, remove it immediately from the heat and whisk briskly to cool the mixture. Push the custard through a fine-meshed sieve with the back of a spoon to remove the lumps. If it has not sufficiently thickened, return it to heat to complete cooking.
  22. Cooked Berry Puree or Sauce: Put the berries in a large sauté pan or skillet with the sugar, water and optional liqueur or eau-de-vie. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until the fruit is soft enough to mash with a spoon and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the lemon juice and cinnamon, then taste and adjust the flavor with additional sugar, lemon juice or cinnamon as needed.
  23. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Strain the fruit through a fine-meshed sieve, cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours; this should be a very thick puree. It may be used as an ingredient in another, or by itself as a sauce.

Yield: 10 servings; 2 cups sauce

Source: Chef Richard Rivera, Ambrosia Patisserie, Barrington, Illinois