I know, I know, this thing is extravagant and really decadent, even compared to my normal baking.
Even though I initially had doubts about the amounts of sugar and almonds, I changed my mind, of course, after reading Deb Perlman’s coercions and flaming reviews to make this meringue cake.
And honestly, I mean, this is basically a giant, layered macaron, covered in dark chocolate-espresso whipped ganache. Like, who am I to say no?
And this, combined with the recent success I had with my Macarons (!) let me to this beautiful cake. A warning: make sure you have enough people to share this with and serve the thinnest possible slices.
I have amended the original recipe slightly to simplify some steps (I have for example skipped the orange syrup and added espresso instead, as I simply love the combination of almond-chocolate and coffee).
More traditional takes on recipes like this (often called hazelnut torte or hazelnootschuimtaart), are often coated in a layer of crispy sugared nuts or nougat. Even though I love the combination of dark chocolate and hazelnut-crunch, I tried to keep this recipe as simple as I could. Plus, I truly loved decorating this cake by using both gold paint and gold leaves, which worked rather well on the smooth dark background of the chocolate ganache.
This cake is perfect for the upcoming holidays, mainly because this is a monster that will treat a huge crowd. Another argument to make this cake now, while it is still cold outside, is that the ganache tends to soften a bit when warm. 🙂
- For the macaron dough
- 11 egg whites*
- 350 grams of granulated sugar + 80 grams of water
- 400 grams of almond flour
- 250 grams of icing sugar
- 3 tablespoons of espresso powder
- 1 tablespoon of salt
- 4 sheets of baking powder
- *in case you are wondering what to do with 11 egg yolks, this recipe for Yellow Butter Cake would be perfect, as well as making this Zablagione Recipe.
- For the ganache
- 400 grams of dark chocolate (I used 60% bars), chopped into small pieces
- 200 grams of cream
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla essence
- ½ teaspoon of salt (I used a nice himalayan salt)
- This cake holds up really well for more than a week. As it tastes even better after a day (or two) in the fridge, this is a perfect treat to make ahead of the holidays. When cooled properly (or even frozen), this cake is really sturdy and easy to transport.
- I have found that making this recipe is easiest with a standmixer, so you have your hands free to do the other parts, but in fact you can also make these with a handmixer.
- As there are different steps involved, just make sure you have all ingredients measured out to be prepared.
- Stir together 5 egg whites, the icing sugar, espresso powder and almond flour in a large bowl until you have a thick paste. Set this aside until the 'meringue' whipped part of the macarons is ready to be mixed in.
- Whip the remaining 6 egg whites with the salt into a frothy mixture. As always, make sure that your bowl and whisk are sparkling clean. To be sure, I usually wipe a halved lemon over the bowl and attachment.
- On the stove, heat the water and granulated sugar until 110 degrees Celsius. Once this syrup has reached this temperature, move quickly.
- Add the syrup in one go to the frothy egg whites while the kitchen machine is still running. Keep the machine running until no longer visible fog is coming from the mixture.
- You will end up with a beautifully shiny and stiff whipped egg white mixture (this part is called Italian Meringue).
- From this point onward you will only mix by hand. Drop the almond-egg-white-paste into the meringue mixture and fold it through using a spatula. When making macarons, you would aim for a thick yoghurt-like consistency. In this case I found it more helpful to mix a little less to make sure the mixture is a bit thicker.
- After your mixture has reached the right consistency, a 15 cm diameter cake tin and draw rounds on the sheets of baking paper with either an edible stift or a thick marker that will still be visible if you flip over the sheet.
- Now you can either use the spatula, a spoon or a piping bag to divide the macaron mixture and cover the drawn rounds.
- Other than with macarons, you can immediately proceed to baking. I found that baking these on a low temperature of 150 degrees Celsius for around 30 minutes gave the best result. Be sure to double-check: the disks should easily come of the baking paper (test by trying to lift the edge with your finger).
- Even if you let these disks bake a little too long, there is no need to worry, as they will regain a little moisture from the ganache and get a bit softer again.
- While the macaron-disks are cooling down, you can proceed to make the whipped ganache. Heat up the cream until it almost boils. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour over the hot cream. This is also the point to add the vanilla essence and salt.
- Let this mixture stand for some minutes to make sure that the chocolate has enough time to melt.
- This is where I involved the standmixer, as this is a rather lengthy process, but you can also do this with a handmixer. Let the ganache mix on a low speed to allow little bits of air to be beaten into the cooling mixture.
- When it the ganache reaches the texture of a smooth hummus, you can start to asemble the cake.
- Place one little blob of ganache on your cake board or platter to assure that the cake will not move.
- Place the first macaron disk and cover with the ganache, be sure to save enough to be able to coat the outsides, and repeat until you have stacked all four layers. Use the remaining ganache to cover the top and outsides of the cake and smoothen with a spatula.
- This cake tastes best after a day in the fridge, when all textures are smoothened and the tastes have been allowed to develop - the macaron will be deliciously chewy as a result.
- After you cake is properly chilled, it is easier to decorate. I used a wider brush to apply gold paint to the top as well as some gold leave to the sides.
- The golden / bronze balls can be made by rolling truffles in some gold-dust. I was lucky enough to find them in a deli-shop and simply splurged. 🙂