This old fashioned cake keeps the memory of a Hungarian-Belgian romantic story. It was named after Rigó Jancsi (1858-1927), who was a famous Hungarian gypsy violinist and toured with his orchestra all around Europe. Jancsi was already married and had a family when he met his fate. He was playing in a restaurant in Paris in 1896 when he set eyes on Clara Ward, the beautiful and opulent wife of the Belgian duke of Chimay, daughter of an American millionaire. His music and charm enchanted the duchess, they immediately fell in love, Jancsi eloped with Clara (who put on a gypsy disguise), and later both got divorced from their partners. They lived together for 10 years in different countries, during their trips they squandered 8 million dollars. This cake was born in a café in Budapest when Jancsi ordered a chocolate-creamy cake for his love and the confectioner decided to name the cake after Jancsi. Their relationship didn’t have a happy end, since the ungrateful duchess left Jancsi to an Italian waiter.
Making Rigó Jancsi is quite labor intensive, but don’t let yourself be dissuaded. I used the recipe of Károly Gundel as a starting point, the process is the same, I only modified the quantities. The chocolate whipped cream doesn’t require any gelatine, sugar and melted chocolate make the cream stable enough that it won’t collapse. But if you have your doubts, you may use some gelatine. Apricot jam is an ingredient in the recipe people tend to forget when Rigó Jancsi comes up. The thin jam layer under the chocolate glaze must not be omitted, that makes the cake complete.
For the sponge cake:
- 150 g (~2/3 cup) butter
- 120 g (~1 cup) powdered sugar
- 6 eggs
- 120 g (~1 cup) flour
- 30 g (~1/4 cup) cocoa powder
For the filling:
- 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) dark chocolate
- 600 ml (~2 1/2 cups) whipping cream
- 40 g (~1/3 cup) powdered sugar
For the topping:
- 100 g (~3 1/2 oz)dark chocolate
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 30 g (~2 tbsp) apricot jam
Size of the baking sheet: 30×35 cm
Preheat the oven to 180 °C.
In a bowl beat egg yolks with 60 g of powdered sugar until foamy, then add cubed butter and whisk to combine. Whisk the egg whites with the rest of the sugar until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture. Sift flour and cocoa powder into the batter and carefully whisk together. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread the batter over it in a thin (1,5 cm) layer. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove the parchment paper from the sponge cake and let it cool on a wire rack.
Whip cream with powdered sugar. In a metal bowl set over simmering water melt the chocolate (broken into smaller pieces). Remove from the heat and stir in a third of the whipped cream. When incorporated, add the remaining whipped cream and stir gently and carefully. Do not overmix.
Cut the cake into two halves. Place one layer onto a flat platter and evenly spread the chocolate mousse over it. Place in the refrigerator until you make the glaze.
Spread apricot jam in a thin layer onto the top of the other cake. Combine chocolate and oil and heat over simmering water while stirring constantly until the chocolate melts. Pour the glaze over the jam, spreading it to cover the cake evenly.
When the glaze sets, dip a sharp knife into very hot water, wipe dry and cut the cake into 5×5 cm squares. Remove the chilled cake from the fridge and carefully arrange the glazed squares on top of the mousse layer. Let the cake stay in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
To cut the cake, use thin-bladed knife dipped in warm water and wiped dry between each cut.