This is a traditional cake made with layers of hazelnut meringue and whipped cream from the town of Dax in South West France. I made this one to have with friends who had invited us for a meal last spring, but thought I’d share it now as we haven’t baked anything today.
We sat on the terrace in an unusually warm, Normandy Spring day before eating an incredible meal of roasted lamb cooked for us by our hosts. I swear I forgot that we were due to go home to England – to misquote our Jewish brethren; “Next year in Normandy!”
Ingredients and Method
For the hazelnut meringue
50g shelled and blanched hazelnuts, 4 large, fresh egg whites, 225g caster sugar.
For the chocolate cream
100g plain chocolate, 300ml double cream
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/ Gas 6. Roast the hazelnuts for 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool and then chop very finely. Lower the temperature of the oven to 110C/100C Fan/ Gas 1/4.
- Line three baking sheet with none stick parchment and mark each one with a 20cm circle. In a large bowl whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. A teaspoon at a time whisk in the sugar, whisking well in between, to make a stiff, glossy meringue. Carefully fold in all but one tablespoon of the chopped hazelnuts.
- Divide the mixture equally between the baking sheets within the marked circles – if you want a structured look pipe it in increasing circles. If not just spread it with a spoon – my technique.
- Sprinkle one disc with the remainder of the chopped nuts then bake for two hours.
- Once baked turn off the oven and leave them to go cold inside. You know it is baked when you can lift the meringue from the parchment – if it sticks it’s not done so leave in a little longer, but keep checking every few minutes.
- The chocolate cream shouldn’t be filled more than the two hours required before serving. Break the chocolate in a bowl and melt it over a simmering pan of water. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
- Whip the double cream until it thickens but isn’t fluffy. Gently fold the cream into the chocolate.
- Divide the chocolate mixture between the two meringues without the nut topping then place one on top of the other prior to placing the nut covered one on top.
- Chill in the fridge for two hours prior to serving.