There’s Something About Meringue

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue Cake

There’s something about meringue that just makes me smile. Whether it’s a cookie , a cake , or an icing….I absolutely love making meringues. I don’t know if it’s the moment when the egg whites double, then triple, then quadruple in size that makes me happier or the part where you fold all the fun ingredients into the shiny {and sugary} egg whites.

I made this cake for my mother’s recent birthday party and I was surprised by how much people liked it. Generally, I don’t think people love meringue as much as I do, but this combination of hazelnut, chocolate, and whipped cream seemed to be a real crowd pleaser.

I found the original recipe on Food & Wine magazine’s website and followed it closely, only making a couple changes. One thing that is very important when making this dessert is to chop the hazelnuts by hand; this makes a huge difference. It was nice to have the  slightly varied sizes of hazelnut pieces throughout the meringue (you can kind of see that in this photo below).

folding meringue

CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT MERINGUE CAKE

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (7 ounces)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 ounces semi sweet chocolate, roughly chopped {the size of a mini chocolate chips}
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Chocolate shavings, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 8-inch rounds on one sheet of the parchment and one 8-inch round on the other.
  2. Spread the hazelnuts on a third baking sheet and toast for 12 to 14 minutes, until browned. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a towel and rub to remove the skins. Chop the nuts. Lower the oven temperature to 225°.
  3. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff. Beat in the vanilla extracts. Fold in the hazelnuts and semi sweet chocolate. Pour the melted chocolate down the side of the bowl and gently fold until the meringue is lightly marbled. Don’t fold too much! The more marbled, the cooler.
  4. Spread the meringue in the drawn circles and bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes, until crisp; rotate the pans halfway through baking. Turn off the oven, leave the door ajar and let the meringues cool completely.
  5. In the bowl of the standing mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners’ sugar until firm. Remove the meringues from the parchment paper. Spread the whipped cream on the layers and stack them. Refrigerate or freeze the cake overnight. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature. Garnish with chocolate shavings before serving {to make the chocolate shavings: use a vegetable peeler on a large/thick bar of chocolate}.
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