Base Recipe: Eva Giesener, z”l;  Research and Recipe Twist: Jeffery Giesener

Yom HaShoah 2021. So many memories of my mom and dad. Mom passed in 2011 and she would have been 93 this year. Dad passed in 2012. Dad celebrates in heaven his 100th Birthday this year.

Mom was a survivor of Auschwitz along with her two older sisters Edith and Handi. My Aunt Handi (95) is still living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, along with her two boys Maria (72) and Ruben (68). Edith is of blessed memory and is survived by her son Peter (74) (Aachen, Germany) and Olga (65) Queens, New York . I am 62 and Sherrie my sister who lives in Massachusetts is 66. My wife Myra (we are married almost 35 years), originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, is 64.

In the Shoah, our family lost our Paternal Grandfather and Maternal Grandmother along with Mom’s baby sister Magda (age 8) when on the first day of their arrival at Auschwitz Mom’s Mom wouldn’t let go of Magda’s hand as she was ordered to go to the left and that meant, as we all know now, the gas chamber. My grandfather was murdered in Terezin Concentration Camp in 1943. We also lost many aunts and uncles both known and unknown to us as we grew up with virtually no relatives here in America.

May all who lost their love ones known and unknown may their memory be a blessing. RIP.

Frankly it has been an emotionally challenging week thinking about Mom and Dad and what I would I bake in Mom’s honor while also memorializing Yom HaShoah.

I wanted to make something that brings me joy, hope and the remembrance of my mom and once I went down that path it cinched what I would bake in her honor.

One of my favorite special desserts Mom used to make was her Esterházy Torte.

Oh, I can remember just how painstaking and skillful Mom was to make sure the top sugar artistry looked so perfectly elegant.

She also made sure I was kept at bay while she created her fancy artwork.

When you see fondant sugar swirl made to perfection, of course, you just can’t sit back and admire it. You’ve got to go all in. Mom’s swirling skills were special, which I have yet to perfect and master.

When Mom made this Esterházy Torte, it was customary if I were a good patient boy to be rewarded with getting the chance to lick the entire remnants of the bowl of chocolate buttercream icing and those mixer blades.

Wow… Wow…Wow… what a great treat…that silky-smooth chocolate buttercream icing – she created was out of this world. Now almost 50 years later, I can still remember (almost like yesterday) just how great Mom’s layered icing Torte was.

Today, I judge my icing taste against my memories of hers.

Now a bit of my  research: The origin of Esterházy Torta is not really identifiable, this is the reason why so many versions circulate in many different recipe collections. This Hungarian cake was invented in the 19th century by unknown confectioner(s). It’s only a presumption that the Torta was named after Prince Paul III Anton Esterházy de Galántha (1786–1866), a member of the Esterházy dynasty and diplomat of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Legend has chosen him probably because he was said to be a significant gourmet, while the famous Esterházy steak is also related to his name.

This is a traditional Old-World recipe, so it will take some time but please be patient, take your time and you will master it too. Remember the icing art is the most challenging so if you don’t get it right, no worries the cake will taste just as fine. Good Luck!


For the Sponge Cake:

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 ounces sugar
  • 1 3/4 ounces almonds (ground)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large egg whites
  • ½ oz lemon juiced
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon vanilla

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

  • 10 ounces chocolate (semisweet, chopped)
  • 1-pound unsalted butter (softened)
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar

For the Apricot Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup apricot jam (melted and mixed with 1 tablespoon hot water)

For the Easy Fondant Icing:

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup or 1 tablespoon honey

For the Garnish:

  • 2 ounces chocolate (melted semisweet mixed with 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil)
  • 4 ounces sliced almonds (toaster or untoasted)


  1. Heat oven to 350 F.
  2. Line four 8-inch round baking pans with parchment circles. Alternatively, you can line one 8-inch round pan with parchment, but you will have to split this cake into four layers.
  3. Beat egg yolks with sugar until light and lemon colored.
  4. Sprinkle ground almonds and flour over batter and fold in gently.
  5. Beat egg whites to still peaks. Fold in the egg whites and lemon juice or vanilla carefully so as not to deflate the batter.
  6. Portion batter evenly into prepared pans. For four pans, bake about 10 to 15 minutes or until cakes pull away from sides of pan and top is golden brown. For one pan, bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden. Cool in the pans.
  7. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl in the microwave. Stir and set aside to cool. With a stand or hand mixed beat the butter with the paddle attachment on low for 2 minutes, medium for 3 minutes and high for 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a large bowl.
  9. Place egg whites and sugar in the top of a double boiler over medium heat. Whisk gently to 120 F on a candy thermometer.Transfer to a clean and dry mixer bowl and beat with a wish attachment on high until stiff peaks form; about 5 minutes.
    1. Fold melted chocolate into butter, then fold in egg whites.
    2. On a serving platter, place one sponge cake layer and spread with 1/4 chocolate buttercream. Repeat 2 more times and top with the last sponge cake layer. Reserve the last 1/4 of buttercream for the sides. Refrigerate, covered, 1 hour.
  • Strain the apricot mixture and brush entire top of cake with glaze and let dry for 15 minutes.
  • Place all fondant ingredients in a small saucepan small and stir until well mixed. Set over low heat and stir until dissolved. Don’t let the temperature exceed 100 F on a candy thermometer. If glaze doesn’t look opaque enough, add more powdered sugar.
  • Place chocolate-oil mixture in a squeeze bottle and set aside. Pour warm fondant over torte, tilting so the entire top is covered. If some drips down the sides, that’s okay because it will be covered with the reserved buttercream.
  • If it looks too transparent, you will have to apply another coat, but wait until this one dries.
  • If the fondant is the way you like it, before it dries, take the squeeze bottle and draw 4 or 5 concentric circles on the top of the torte.
  • Using a skewer or the tip of a knife, drag it lightly through the lines from the center of the torte to the edge 8 times to make a chevron pattern.
  • Frost the sides of the torte with the reserved frosting, pressing in the sliced almonds.
  • Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • For easier slicing, cut the torte while it is cold but let it come to room temperature before serving.
  • This is a rich*Jeffery Giesener, former CEO of SourceMob, has both public and private company experience. Today, retired and enjoying life in San Diego, he’s a freelance writer who has a passion for both cinema and baking his Mom’s (Of Blessed Memory) European recipes.

Republished from San Diego Jewish World