Maida Heatter made her chocolate mousse torte 20 instances earlier than she deemed sufficient to be published in The New York Times in May 1972.
At the time, Ms. Heatter, who died on Thursday at her home in Miami Beach at age 102, became not yet the successful cookbook author she would quickly emerge as. Her toil became well worth the hassle: Readers have known as and wrote letters to the editor, keen to get their palms on a recipe for the dreamy chocolate dessert they’d heard about or tasted at so-and-so’s the weekend before. It becomes later mentioned that the torte has been the newspaper’s most-asked dessert recipe of the year.
The Times published several of Ms. Heatter’s recipes, along with the East 62nd Street lemon cake, a soft lemon Bundt cake; her 86-proof chocolate cake, a rich chocolate cake infused with bourbon; and her chocolate cheesecake truffles. But none ever surpassed the torte.
It’s not tough to see why: It’s a groan-inducing glory of a dessert, with a thick chocolate base topped with frothy chocolate mousse and whipped cream. It changed into a smart trick that Ms. Heatter (whose complete call is stated MAY-da HEAT-er) landed upon during all of these recipe strive-outs: Make a batch of chocolate mousse and bake half of it in a pie pan. Once it has cooled, the baked mousse sinks in the center, transforming into a dense chocolate cake “crust” ideal for filling with the final unbaked mousse.
In 1974, “Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Desserts” was published, and in case you had been a domestic baker in the 1970s and ’80s, you possibly had a dog-eared, butter-stained, flour-dusted reproduction on your kitchen shelf. Devotees nevertheless swear with the aid of her cookbooks, often scouring the net to replace their battle-worn editions. However, many Instagram-generation cooks have never heard of the female who wrote nine cookbooks, won 3 James Beard awards, and counted Martha Stewart and Nancy Silverton as fanatics. The recent release of “Happiness Is Baking” (Little, Brown, 2019), a collection of her monstrous recipes, may also introduce her to a bra era.
Ms. Heatter had no goal of becoming a cookbook author. In the early Sixties, she was a hit jewelry dressmaker in Miami Beach. At the same time, she persuaded her 1/3 husband, Ralph Daniels, an airline pilot who changed into regularly out of town, to end his task and open a restaurant so he could assist her in caring for her poor health father, Gabriel Heatter, the 1940s radio personality. She made the desserts, which she evolved and tested in her home kitchen, and soon afterward, locals had lined up for them.
The torte — “a piece of ingenuity with chocolate,” as Raymond A. Sokolov wrote in The Times in 1973 — is most of the hundred or so fastidiously examined and exquisitely specific recipes in “Happiness Is Baking.” Developed by Ms. Heatter, a self-professed” chocolate nut,” it’s far the apex of chocolate cakes: simply wealthy sufficient, doubly chocolatey, and a dream to make if you comply with Ms. Heatter’s unique instructions to the letter.