I have made this cake with both pistacios and hazelnuts (replacing the pecans) and they both worked well. Just be careful when pulsing the pistachios, they will turn to paste pdq if you don't watch it. This looks slightly daunting, but is really pretty easy to make (expecially if you have a stand mixer and even easier if you have two bowls for stand mixer). Refrigerate over night and it is much better.
It is really good. This is also a beautiful looking thing if you take your time spreading the chocolate glaze.
For cake layers
2 1/2 cups pecans (about 10 ounces)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup well-chilled heavy cream
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter two 8- by 2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with a round of wax paper and butter paper.
Make cake layers:
In a food processor pulse 2 cups pecans with flour, salt, and baking powder until finely ground (do not pulse to a paste). Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in orange juice. Separate eggs and in a large bowl with an electric mixer beat yolks until pale yellow. Gradually add sugar, beating until thick and pale, and fold in pecan mixture gently but thoroughly. In another bowl with cleaned beaters beat whites until they hold stiff peaks. Stir about one fourth whites into pecan mixture to lighten and fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Divide batter between cake pans and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until cakes pull away from sides of pans. Cool cake layers in pans on a rack 10 minutes and invert onto rack to cool completely. Carefully remove wax paper from bottoms of cake layers.
While cake layers are cooling, on a baking sheet toast remaining 1/2 cup pecans until fragrant and a shade darker, about 8 minutes. Cool nuts and chop.
In a medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat cream with zest until it just holds stiff peaks.
Arrange 1 cake layer, top side up, on a serving plate and spread filling evenly onto layer. Put remaining layer, bottom side up, on filling.
Chop chocolate. In a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate, stirring until smooth. Remove chocolate from heat and stir in sour cream and a pinch salt until smooth.
Immediately spread frosting on top and side of torte and pat toasted pecans around side. Chill torte, loosely covered, until frosting is set, at least 1 hour, and up to 3 days.
Serve torte chilled or at room temperature.
Serves 8 to 10.
Joyce Carol Oates
A Memorable Meal