Fran’s Prince Torte Layers

A classic from the earliest days of the bake shop, this quintessential chocolate torte balances the denseness of dark chocolate with a light cake texture so that each bite dissolves and lingers on the palate. It is the building block for four of Fran’s very special cakes: Dylan’s Birthday Cake, Truffle Torte, Marguerite Torte, and Blanc et Noir.

The Prince also makes an elegant single-layer torte—perfect for those who prefer a cake without nuts. Just divide the recipe in half and bake at 300°F in a 9-inch round pan for 35 to 40 minutes. You can dress it up with a shiny Chocolate Butter Glaze or simply dust with cocoa. It is always sublime.

Enough for two 9-inch round cake pans or two 9-by-13-inch (quarter-sheet) pans


  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • ¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 large eggs, room temperature, separated
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup cake flour, sifted then measured


  1. In a double boiler melt the chocolate over low heat. Remove the top of the boiler when the chocolate is nearly melted and continue stirring until completely smooth. Add the softened butter in 3 parts, stirring until no visible traces of butter remain. (If the butter begins to melt and separate, stop and allow the chocolate more time to cool.) The finished mixture should be glossy and smooth. Set aside to cool until the mixture is the consistency of softened butter. Briefly return to the double boiler if it begins to thicken too much.
  2. In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, which the egg yolks with half the sugar at medium-high speed, increasing to high speed until light and tripled in volume, 5 to 6 minutes.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, fold the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. The mixture should be smooth and glossy.
  4. Meanwhile sift the flour again and set aside.
  5. Clean the whisk, and in a clean bowl whip the egg whites on medium-high speed, increasing the speed to allow them to become quite frothy. Slowly add the remaining sugar and continue whipping until the peaks are stiff but not dry. The mixture should look glossy and a creamy consistency.
  6. While the egg whites are finishing, fold the sifted flour into the chocolate mixture.
  7. Lighten the chocolate mixture by quickly folding in a third of the whites, then gently fold in the remaining whites in 2 parts, trying not to overmix and lose the volume. Evenly spread the batter into the prepared pans and back. Tightly wrap layers and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for one month prior to assembly.

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