The Night Circus: Black-and-white torte with raspberries at centre ring

The clock chimes 4a.m. at the Night Circus and bonfire is burning strong, fed by Marco's book of charms.

The clock chimes 4 a.m. at the Night Circus. Her bonfire burns strong, fed by Marco’s book of charms.

“What’s black and white with red in the middle?” Vinny asks.  “Give up? It’s the cake I made for my book club, when Erin Morgenstern’s novel “The Night Circus” was up for discussion.

On the surface, Morgenstern gives us an enchanting love story about magic. The circus, open only at night, shimmers in black and white. It is the venue for a desperate competition, as two wizards older than time pit themselves against one another through their best students. The light and the dark signify their two opposing ways of manipulating reality. Which will win out, Vinny wonders.


All the senses come into play in Morgenstern’s story, not the least of which is taste. The circus owner holds mysterious dinner parties at midnight. Like Vinny, he understands the power of mood.

“What are we to take from this?” Vinny muses, as he devours the images and ideas in this provocative book, suitable for all but the very young.

What Vinny thinks

“Morgenstern wants each of us, regardless of our age,  to find at the night circus what’s most important to us,” he concludes. “Each life presents unique challenges. For  me, cake is my biggest problem. It’s hard to make a good one without sugar,” he says. “As I hold sugar responsible for many of life’s miseries, I look for ways to keep sugar penned in.”

Vinny goes to whole grains, nuts, and root vegetables like carrots and beets to add protein and stable starches to his dishes. These slow the release of sugar into the blood stream and stabilize our mood.

He also likes to use honey or maple syrup rather than granulated sugar when possible. And he resorts to the natural, no-calorie sweetener stevia, whenever he can get away with it.


This layered torte commands center stage.

Vinny’s circus torte

“For my black-and-white layered cake for guests at the Night Circus, ” says Vinny, “I conjured up a chocolate beet cake. My trusty angel cake pan makes for a handy hole in the middle. I sliced the ring of cake twice, horizontally, to make three thin black layers.

Then I used the pan again to make a gluten-free almond cake, and cut it in half to get two white layers.

I glued them all together with raspberry jam and a touch of whipped cream.

Then I iced the whole thing with my triple chocolate avocado cream, which I thinned with a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt.

Finally, I filled the hole at the centre with fresh raspberries, red to signal importance, like Morgenstern does in her book. Raspberries are such a super food. The candle represents the circus’s bonfire, for added dramatics.”

But is it healthy?

Vinny produced a classic dessert, moist and heavy with chocolate, rich in taste, and loaded with nutrients. It’s kind on the body but, sadly, at 438 Calories for a small serving of 1/16th of the cake, this torte is a sometimes food. However, it’s a treat you can eat in good conscience. What you get:

  • lots of protein from eggs and nuts
  • good fats galore from almonds and avocados
  • antioxidants from dark chocolate, beets and raspberries
  • fiber from whole wheat, dark chocolate, beets, berries and nuts
  • all kinds of vitamins and minerals from this array of super foods.

Sugar is the culprit in the mix. Even though I used only half the sugar called for in the chocolate cake, it still took a full cup. There was a half cup in the white cake to provide a framework for the eggs to rise on. And maple syrup made its way into the icing. Plus there’s sugar in the chocolate. So it adds up.

If you like the taste, you can use stevia to a greater extent than I did in the chocolate cake and in the icing, Its flavor is slightly different from granulated sugar. I like it, but I wasn’t sure my guests would. So I only subbed out half the sugar with stevia. I got lots of compliments, so I’d use the same amount again, another time.

Vinny’s cake recipes and the avocado icing provide you with dessert options filled with nutrition. Use them to create your own confections, alone or combined. The posted recipes give more suggestions for serving these goodies.

Recipe links

  1. Black cake – The Queen’s beets – let them eat cake
  2. White cake – How spun sugar takes the cake
  3. Chocolate icing – Creamy creamless triple chocolate pudding – Make up the chocolate cream according to this recipe, then add 1/2 to 1 cup of low-fat greek yogurt and mix well to blend.


Popcorn magic at the Night Circus Make chocolatey, air-popped corn from scratch in minutes, and perform your own feats of magic, without the harmful chemicals that come with the prepackaged stuff. Save your cash!



11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gheeshakar
    May 19, 2014 @ 17:35:45

    I loved this book! your cake looks equally interesting!


  2. janderoo92
    Apr 30, 2014 @ 09:50:04

    Wow, this is very impressive. I am intrigued by the avocado based frosting and the book selection. Thanks for the tips, Vinny!


    • Vinny Grette
      Apr 30, 2014 @ 13:59:15

      Thanks, Jan. I was surprised too by how great-tasting an avocado-based cream is, and how versatile. I use it in puddings and as icing, but I prefer it with the Greek yogurt. Otherwise it’s just too rich unless you use it as a topping with a lot of fruit. By itself, a little goes a long way. As for the book, I loved it – kind of a thinking man’s Harry Potter but way more beautifully written. Much more YOUR style of language, I would say :). I’m now reading American Gods – supposed to be famous, but I’m not liking it nearly the same way…


  3. Freak Aesthetics
    Apr 26, 2014 @ 02:17:37

    looks yummy!!


  4. recetasbonappetit
    Apr 24, 2014 @ 05:01:53

    Una tarta deliciosa…buen trabajo.


  5. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward
    Apr 23, 2014 @ 19:44:06

    That is a gorgeous cake. I love the flavors and wish I could have a BIG slice, sharon! 🙂


  6. thepaddingtonfoodie
    Apr 22, 2014 @ 20:27:00

    I loved reading The Night Circus. Your cake captures the mood beautifully. I also like to somehow link the food I’m serving back to the book we are discussing when I’m hosting book club.


    • Vinny Grette
      Apr 22, 2014 @ 20:58:42

      Yes! I thought “The Night Circus” was pretty special. So charming. And I figured it would be a story Vinny might recommend to his pals… Everybody said they liked the cake, which took a bit of magic on my part to pull off (not being the world’s best baker …)


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