Pastry Chef Amanda's Red Velvet Crush Torte

Hanover Street Chophouse may be known for its memorable main courses, but pastry chef Amanda MacKinnon makes sure guests leave with a finale that’s just as unforgettable. The holiday recipe she likes to impress with at Chophouse is designed for intermediate- to advanced-level bakers, but MacKinnon offers some shortcuts for beginners, as well. Her red velvet crush torte—a hallmark of the holiday dessert menu at Hanover Street—features red velvet and buttermilk cakes, vanilla and chocolate buttercream icing, and rich chocolate ganache.

Red Velvet Cake and Buttermilk Cake:
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons red food coloring

Buttermilk Cake:
Combine flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder, put aside. Cream butter and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add one egg at a time until incorporated. Add vanilla extract. Continue mixing and gradually add flour mixture and buttermilk. Scrape the side of the bowl often to prevent clumps. Once the batter is smooth, remove half and place in a greased, 9-inch cake pan.

Red Velvet Cake:
Combine cocoa and red food coloring. Mix the food coloring mixture with the cake batter until combined. Add the vinegar and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds. Place in greased, 9-inch pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Check for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center of the cake. Allow the cake to cool overnight.

Vanilla/Chocolate Buttercream Icing:
Frost the torte with the following buttercreams and ganache. Or use your favorite cream cheese frosting.1 pound unsalted butter, softened 8 ounces shortening2 teaspoons vanilla extract 2 pounds confectioners’ sugarCream butter and shortening together. Add vanilla. Slowly incorporate sugar. Stop a few times to scrape the sides of the bowl. Remove half of the buttercream and mix in cocoa.

Semisweet Chocolate Ganache:
1 pound chocolate chips, semisweet 16 ounces heavy creamBoil heavy cream. Pour over chocolate and whisk until smooth. Allow to cool overnight at room temperature.

1. Level out the cakes by removing the crowns from the tops with a serrated knife. Slice each cake in half, to make a total of 4 layers. Place one layer on cake board and frost with chocolate buttercream. Continue by alternating layers of red velvet cake, chocolate buttercream and buttermilk cake. To get the “crushed” look, the center of the cake needs to be removed. Cut 4- to 5-inch circle away from the center of the cake, tilting your serrated knife at a 15-degree angle. Remove the center circle, which should now resemble a cone. Frost interior cone with chocolate buttercream and put aside. Flip cake over. Using both hands, gently crush the torte inward.

2. Return the cone into the center of the cake, narrow end first, with the wider end facing you, then flip the cake back over and fill in center gap with chocolate butter cream. Frost the exterior of the torte with a thin layer of vanilla buttercream. Place in refrigerator for about an hour for the buttercream to harden, which will make the final layer of frosting easier to apply.

3. Finally, frost the exterior with the ganache and serve.

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