Even if we’re in the season of self-perfecting New Year’s resolutions, birthdays still call for cake. Yes, I could make something a little less decadent, but what’s the fun in that?
I love making cakes. I’ve made many cakes for other’s birthdays and always cakes for my own birthday. This week my cousin commissioned me to make a cake, any cake, for her husband’s birthday. So, I experimented with a couple recipes and made an almond-pecan meringue covered with dark chocolate ganache and topped with fluffy whipped cream and chocolate toffee garnish bites.
This isn’t one of those spend-all-day-in-the-kitchen cakes. The meringue and ganache can be whipped up quite quickly. But, I still spent almost all day playing in the kitchen, taking pictures, writing down metric and standard measurements (my life would be much easier with one system), and making designs out of chocolate and toffee.
When I realized I couldn’t think of a better name than “chocolate covered almond-pecan meringue” or “sjokolade drøm//chocolate dream,” which was the name of the recipe that inspired me, I decided to ask the expert, Julia Child, “what do you call a meringue filled with nuts?”
In the second volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, she defines the philology of different meringues: succès, broyage, dacquoise, progrès, japonais. And, she mentions that there is debate about the correct naming of meringues and correct fillings and frostings. Julia concludes that “since no one agrees on anything, you are quite safe in doing whatever you wish.”
Chocolate Covered Meringue Gâteau
5 Egg Whites
1 cup (200g) Sugar
2 cups (240g) Chopped Almonds & Pecans, I used 1 cup of each.
5 Egg Yolks
½ cup (100g) Sugar
3 ½ oz (100g) Dark Chocolate, 70% Cocoa
⅔ cup (1½ dl) Heavy Cream
½ cup (100g) Butter
Heavy Whipping Cream
Preheat the oven to 350℉ (175℃). Line the bottom of a 9in (24cm) springform pan with parchment paper and butter the form.
Whip the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Then continue to whip and add the sugar. The egg whites will turn glossy and look like a fluffy cloud. The whisk should leave tracks in the egg white. Stiff peaks should form when the beaters are lifted out of the batter. Fold in the chopped nuts.
Pour into the prepared springform pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The cake will look tan. It may be a little moist in the center. Let cool.
In a saucepan, carefully heat the egg yolks, sugar, chocolate, and cream over medium heat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture thickens slightly. Lower the stove-top temperature and add the butter. Stir until the butter is melted and remove from heat.
Pour the chocolate ganache over the meringue.
If desired, cover in homemade whipped cream [add a dash of vanilla extract and sugar to heavy whipping cream and whip until peaks form]. You can also sprinkle the cake with cocoa powder, chopped almonds, and tempered chocolate designs or toffee pieces (if you want recipes for the last two, just let me know).
*The recipe is intended for a 9in (24cm) springform pan. I halved the recipe and made mine in a 6in (15cm) pan.