Layered Hazelnut Meringue Cake with Coffee Cream

Hazelnut cake with multiple thin meringue layers and generous portions of coffee cream, separating them, is not your typical hazelnut meringue cake. The recipe was created with several objectives in mind. I wanted to have rich, moist and soft cake, with sophisticated taste, based on overbaked meringue with pronounced nutty flavour and coffee vanilla cream, made with thick pastry cream and whipped cream, stabilised by leaf gelatin. I also used a unique ingredient – Hazelnut Meal/Flour. It has high protein and fibre content and reduced fat (30%), compared to regular hazelnut meal. It is another wonderful product manufactured in Victoria by The Artisan Oil Mill, that can be used as dry ingredient substitution in grain free baking. This product allows  to prepare quality grain free baking products, without excessive fat overload that often produces too moist texture.

Hazelnut flour meringue cake with coffee cream was the main dessert on our gluten free Christmas menu. I like to spread Christmas preparations and cooking, and because of that, one of the objections was to have the cake baked and assembled in advance. Cream and hazelnut meringues can be made 4-5 days ahead, the cake itself have to be assembled 1 or 2 days before serving, 2 days in my case. Storage in refrigerator in covered container allows the cake to develop flavours and soft texture, very handy for cake slicing.

Soft and moist texture makes the cake easy to eat, as is not always the case with meringue cakes.

The number and thickness of hazelnut meringue layers, as well as cream layers, can vary. Variations can change the overall feel of the cake, based on its different moisture level.

To compare, the slice of the cake on the right, represents hazelnut meringue cake made from ground roasted hazelnuts. It is a nice cake, too, but it is more mild in flavour.

Ingredients:

hazelnut flour meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 180g caster sugar
  • 10g vanilla sugar
  • 100g hazelnut flour (30% fat)

Note: to make thicker meringue layers, or make 2 more thin layers use 6 egg whites portion (with 270g sugar, 15g vanilla sugar and 150g hazelnut flour). The portion of coffee cream would be sufficient for the larger cake. 

coffee cream

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 240g/ml milk
  • 40g corn starch
  • 100g sugar
  • 10g vanilla sugar
  • 7-8ml Calvados (apple brandy), 1 dessert spoon
  • 60ml strong filtered coffee, prepared from 20g roasted strong coffee in 120ml of boiling water

separately

  • 600g whipping cream
  • 40g coconut sugar (or any other unrefined aromatic sugar, Panela or Muscovado)

separately

  • 4 gold grade leaves of gelatin, 2g min in each

extras for cake decoration

  • roasted and blended hazelnuts
  • quality dark grated chocolate or chocolate granules

Preparation:

hazelnuts

  • place hazelnuts on a tray, lined with baking paper
  • roast them in the 140-150C oven for 15-20 minutes
  • cool hazelnuts, remove the skin
  • blend hazelnuts and separate small pieces from large, putting mixture through the sieve/s

coffee cream

  • pour boiling water over coffee, let it stand for 15 minutes
  • filter coffee through paper towel
  • mix egg yolks with sugar in a saucepan with rounded thick bottom
  • add corn flour, mix it in with a whisk to even texture
  • add milk in portions, stirring through
  • add coffee, stir the mixture with a whisk
  • place gelatin in cold water, put aside to soak
  • cook  cream on a low heat, it will start to thicken fast and sudden, take it from the heat, whisk vigorously to prevent lumps, soft lumps are easy to break, reheat cream if necessary to be completely cooked
  • add Calvados, mix it in
  • squeeze water from soaked gelatin
  • add gelatin to warm cream and whisk it in
  • whisk cream with sugar
  • when pastry cream reaches room temperature combine thick pastry cream and whisked cream, whisk the mixture thoroughly to combine
  • store coffee cream overnight to set, it is best done in a glass bowl with rounded bottom
  • mix or whisk coffee cream before using, it changes the texture from set to velvety soft and smooth

hazelnut flour meringue

  • beat egg whites to soft peaks
  • continue beating while adding sugar by table spoon
  • beat egg whites with sugar until hard peaks
  • prepare sheets of baking paper with the shape of meringue, marked on the bottom side of the paper
  • add sifted hazelnut flour to beaten eggs
  • carefully fold it in
  • spread meringue to fit marked layers
  • bake in preheated to 140C fan forced oven for 1 hour
  • leave meringues in the switched off oven to rest and cool down (meringue will be overbaked, hard and dry)
  • you can store meringues in sealed container for several days without change in texture

cake assembly

  • prepare all ingredients, line working surface with baking paper, to prevent cake moving, smear some cream on a sheet of paper

  • cut edges from meringues with serrated bread knife, make crumbs, they will be used to decorate cake sides

  • use generous portions of cream between meringue layers
  • try to spread cream in the same thickness

  • use spatula or palette knife to make cake top and sides flat

  • decorate the top of the cake with larger pieces of hazelnuts and chocolate
  • I used Christmas tree cake cutter to make two chocolate trees
  • apply hazelnuts and chocolate in any pattern

  • apply hazelnut meringue crumbs to sides on the cake

  • place the cake into lock-up container and store refrigerated at least overnight
  • the cake will become completely soft after 36-48 hours and will not change its texture with longer storage

The cake was absolutely amazing. It belongs to types of desserts that you do not need a big piece. Even a very small serving satisfies all senses. The cake appeared to be exactly what I wanted it to be – amazingly tender in texture, with intense, yet not punchy flavours. The cake is rich, no question about it, but Christmas happens once a year, and it is my absolute joy to cook without any reservations! The option of assembling the cake 2 days ahead of serving, and preparing ingredients even earlier, is always an extra bonus for me. I can be not completely exhausted and actually enjoy Christmas lunch in full.

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