Perfect Passover Chocolate Walnut Torte
Photo: Jerri Graham Photography

Perfect Passover Chocolate Walnut Torte

You know that joke about the mother-in-law who shares her son’s favorite recipe with the daughter-in-law but leaves out just a few key instructions so that the recipe fails? Voila! The mother-in-law continues to be THE BEST maker of her son’s favorite cake.

This is NOT that story.

family recipes Passover
Photo: Liz Rueven

Because when I asked Litzi for M’s fave kosher for Passover, dairy-free, chocolate nut torte she gave her recipe to me with a joyous heart. I know she would NEVER undermine my ability to re-create any of our family favorites. It’s just that from the way she rattled it off so quickly over the phone, from 6000 miles away in Israel, I could tell that she had probably never written it down or given it much thought.

kosher for Passover chocolate nut torte
Photo: Jerri Graham Photography

Because SHE makes it better than anyone so why would any of us bother to bake it ourselves?

Oral recipe transmission can be very very tricky.

Grease the pan? What size pan? Bake for how long and at what temp? Does “spoon” mean tablespoon or teaspoon? And after the eggs are separated don’t the yolks get mixed back into the batter at some point?

chocolate Passover nut torte
Photo: Jerri Graham Photography

I made some adjustments, re-writing the recipe by piecing together additional advice from on-line sources and other similar recipes.

But the cake failed miserably. It was pale, weirdly textured and pathetically dented in the middle.

This was NOT my mother-in-law’s airy, moist, Pesach nut cake of lore. And it was NOT her fault.

Determined to share this recipe with my readers and in a wee bit o’ a panic, I texted Jayne Cohen, author of Jewish Holiday Cooking; A Food Lover’s Treasury of Classics and Improvisations. Her recipe for Hungarian Chocolate-Walnut Torte is beautifully written and foolproof. Lucky for me, I can taste a recipe as I read it. This one seemed very very similar to the one I wanted to re-create.

And so I followed her recipe and the cake was everything I had wanted: nutty, chocolatey, moist and easy to get right.

spring strawberries
Photo: Jerri Graham Photography

The cake is delicious on it’s own but Pesach is called Hag HaAviv (the spring holiday) for a reason. So I sliced up some strawberries for a pop of color and found this simple method for making fun patterns with confectioners’ sugar* on America’s Test Kitchen.

Passover cake decorations
Photo: Jerri Graham Photography

It does, indeed, take a village. Thank you to my village on this project, my dear mother-in-law, Litzi, who would NEVER lead me astray, my brilliant cookbook author friend, Jayne Cohen, and to my easy-going photographer gal-pal, Jerri Graham.

Here’s to making this Hungarian Chocolate-Walnut Torte a tradition on your Pesach table.

Wishing you a a joyful and meaningful Passover.



*Easy way to make kosher for Passover confectioner’s sugar is under TIPS in the recipe below.


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