Hazelnut meringue cake
- November 2014
- Serves 12-14
- Hands-on time 1 hour, oven time 40 min, plus cooling
This showstopping dessert combines layers of hazelnut meringue and sherry chocolate cream topped with chocolate and toasted hazelnuts.
Or, how about this Norwegian dessert that layers meringue and rich custard? It’s not called the world’s best cake for nothing…
- 44g (23g saturated)
- 47.1g (46.7g sugars)
For 14 servings
For the meringue
- Vegetable oil for greasing
- 150g hazelnuts, toasted
- 385g caster sugar
- 7 large free-range egg whites
- ½ tsp white wine vinegar
For the PX sherry chocolate cream
- 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into small pieces
- 60ml pedro ximénez sherry
- 100g soft light brown sugar
- 800ml double cream
- 50g dark chocolate
- Good knob of butter
- 20g toasted hazelnuts, chopped
- For the meringue, heat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Draw an 18cm circle on each of 4 sheets of baking paper, then use to line 4 lightly oiled baking sheets.
- Grind the nuts in a food processor with 1 tbsp of the caster sugar until finely ground with some texture – don’t overgrind or it will become oily. (If you prefer, you can use a pestle and mortar or finely chop the nuts with a knife, then mix with the sugar.)
- Put the egg whites in a spotlessly clean mixing bowl and whisk with an electric hand mixer to stiff peaks (they shouldn’t droop when the beaters are removed). Add the remaining caster sugar to the whites a tablespoon at a time, whisking back to stiff peaks each time. Once you’ve added half the sugar, start adding in larger quantities, whisking back to stiff peaks each time. Once all the sugar has been added, whisk in the vinegar to form stiff peaks, then fold through the hazelnuts with a metal spoon or balloon whisk.
- Spoon or pipe the meringues in circles onto the baking paper to give 3 flat circles and the fourth circle swirled a bit thicker (this will form the top layer). Bake for 40 minutes until the edges are crisp and set and the insides are still gooey.
- Take out to cool for 20 minutes on the trays, then transfer carefully to wire racks or boards to cool fully (see Make Ahead).
- For the PX sherry chocolate cream, put the chocolate, sherry and brown sugar in a large, heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) a pan of barely simmering water. Melt, stirring very occasionally, until smooth, then remove from the heat, stir in 150ml of the cream and leave to cool to just above room temperature. Whip the rest of the cream to soft peaks, then gently fold through the chocolate mixture with a balloon whisk, being careful not to overmix it or it will become grainy.
- Spoon the chocolate cream into a piping bag and snip off the end (see tips). Put one meringue on a serving platter and pipe a third of the cream on top. Repeat with the next layers, finishing with the thicker meringue.
- To decorate, melt the 50g chocolate and butter together (a microwave on low is fine), then cool a little. Drizzle all over the top, then scatter over the nuts. The cake is best filled as soon as you make the chocolate cream, to get a good shine (see make ahead).
To make the cake alcohol-free, replace the sherry with a splash of almond or coffee extract.
Freeze the leftover egg yolks with a pinch of sugar for sweet recipes, or in the spiced bread gratin.
You can either pipe the filling or swirl it on with a palette knife.
Stack the cooled meringues between layers of baking paper, wrapped well in cling film, and freeze for up to 1 month. Defrost completely to serve. You can assemble the cake up to 3 hours before serving. Keep it cool.
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