Thursday, October 31, 2013

Huguenot Torte - A Charleston dessert

Deepavali is just around the corner. Food blogs are rich with an amazing array of sweets and savories. Mostly I end up making a couple of sweets and a savory here and there. I would love to make Gulab Jamuns like may ammayee made them which is what I miss about the festival. There is still time left so maybe it might happen perhaps.

Happy Deepavali!

The advantages of working from home are many. Chief among them being the ability to catch my favorite day time shows. No No not those shows. A steady diet of that will send me straight to the mental asylum in record time. I am talking about a particular one - The Chew on ABC. The hosts are not annoying and there are 5 of them which makes it easier on the eyes as well. There are not too many recipes that they make that I want to try at home but a couple of weeks ago I caught a show where the Lee Brothers were showing a so easy to make torte.

I first heard of the Lee Brothers on the NPR show linked above and have been meaning to buy their book. While listening to the show did not make me rush up and cook the torte, watching them do it on TV sure did. "The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen" is a book about Southern Cooking and Charleston in particular. One should love their food a LOT to spend time and effort to bring out a book like that. I am totally cool with that.

Beat the egg till frothy. Mix in the dry ingredients and Vanilla.
Chopped apples and roasted pecans.
All the ingredients mixed and batter poured into the prepared pan.
Out of the oven and ready to be served.

What describes Huguenot Torte is best explained in the NPR show by Matt,
"Huguenot torte has this nice meringue-like crisp top, but then a sludgy caramel and apple and pecan bottom to it," Matt says. "It's got flour but tons of leavening — so it just puffs up in the oven, then collapses and creates this very interesting and uniquely Charleston dessert."

It takes almost minimal time and effort and the ingredients were all in and around my pantry and it was done in record time. It is easily one of my favorite baked products to date. DD who helped me make it was absolutely delighted when she saw the results and needless to says it disappeared while it was still warm. And yes it was exactly how it is described above.

This might be a nice one to try for Deepavali but it has eggs. So if that is not OK do give this a try for Thanksgiving. I bet your family will be very happy.

What exactly is a Huguenot Torte you might ask? The history is pretty interesting as well, again from the NPR article

Until relatively recently, Charlestonians believed that this confection, as the title might suggest, came to Charleston with the French Huguenots, who settled in the city in the eighteenth century, and that it was a rustic cousin of elegant p√Ętisseries. But in the 1990s, the culinary historian and Lowcountry native John Martin Taylor tracked down the woman to whom the recipe is attributed in Charleston Receipts, and learned that she'd encountered the dish as "Ozark Pudding" while visiting relatives in Arkansas in the 1940s. She had brought the recipe back to Charleston, and put the dessert on the menu of the Huguenot Tavern, where she was a cook.

The fact that this dessert has become as much an icon of Charleston home cooking as Charleston Okra Soup [see page 74 of The Lee Bros. Charleston Kitchen] and She-Crab Soup [page 77] seems odd — but it's all part of "Charleston's food pattern," as May A. Pyatt wrote in a 1950 review of Charleston Receipts in the News and Courier. Another interesting note: not many Charleston restaurants these days offer the torte — or even variants upon it — but it is almost always offered on menus at the tea rooms [see page 79] that open in the spring throughout the area. You should master it yourself; it's easy to make and easy to eat, and nice to have in your repertoire.

Having been used to reading about baked goods having a perfect crust and texture but for this one the looks don't really matter. The top will rise up beautifully then collapse into itself for that beautiful chewy cookie crust on top.

You can clearly see I am smitten with the dessert. Give this a try and I bet you will be too.

Update:Thanks to DD's friend who made the dessert here is some tips on the amount of sugar. If you are not going to serve it with Greek Yogurt or thick cream you should absolutely reduce the quantity of sugar. I am thinking 1 cup for raw sugar/brown sugar and 3/4 cup for regular white sugar.

Huguenot Torte
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Cooking Time:60 minutes
  1. 2 eggs
  2. 1 cup Pecans slightly toasted and chopped
  3. 1 1/3 cups sugar (used raw sugar)(not planning on using a yogurt topping, reduce the sugar to 1 cup, if using white sugar reduce it to 3/4 of a cup else will be too sweet.)
  4. 2 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  5. a small pinch of salt
  6. 1/4 cup flour (I used white unbleached whole wheat flour)
  7. 1 Gala apple (Granny Smith is the recipe's choice) peeled, cored and diced
  8. 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  9. For serving
  10. 5oz Greek Yogurt

  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Keep a greased 8x8 baking dish ready.
  2. In a mixing bowl whip the eggs till nice and frothy (about 4 minutes easily)
  3. Add sugar, flour, nuts, apples, baking powder, salt, Vanilla and mix it in with the whisk gently.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes till the top turns a caramel color or crusty.
  6. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  7. Whisk the Greek Yogurt to smooth.
Slice and serve with a dollop of Greek Yogurt on top.

Like what you are reading? Subscribe and don't miss a post.


  1. YUM!

    Yum to the post. Yum to anything out of Charleston (you reminded me of a visit to that town, ISG -- I'll post about it one of these days).

    Yum to the torte! :)

    Happy Deepavali dear friend (even if I am late) :)

    1. Thanks Linda. I am excited you know about the torte.


Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate you taking the time.
Comments embedded with links, spam and in poor taste will not be published.