Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Chocolate. Meringue. Cake.

It would appear I'm still only baking things with chocolate in. If there's not chocolate involved, I'm not interested.

Nigella has a lovely lemon meringue cake recipe in Feast which I've made before. It's good. (Although 'lemon curd' has to be referred to as 'lemon delight' in my house, after a certain someone decided that curd sounds like something he wouldn't like...) But, whilst eating it, I couldn't shake the thought that it might do very well transformed into a chocolate meringue cake.

So I did. Roaring success. Not that I'm going to suggest it's better. I mean, I'm no Nigella. Anyway, if you're craving something chocolatey then a lemon cake is rarely going to do the job. And ditto the other way round.

But's it's very good. Gooey and squidgy and crispy all at the same time.

All I did was take out the lemon and add cocoa to the sponge and meringue layers to make them chocolatey. I spent quite a while thinking deep thoughts about a chocolate equivalent to curd (you can buy it, but I couldn't find a recipe) before deciding that Nigella's (again) devil's food cake frosting was the closest I could imagine. I also added a bit more milk to the sponge, to make up for leaving out the lemon juice.

Cake Ingredients
125g soft unsalted butter
4 large eggs, seperated
300g caster sugar (plus a teaspoonful for sprinkling)
100g plain flour
25g corn flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
3 tablespoons of milk
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
150ml double cream

Frosting Ingredients
60ml water
15g dark muscovado sugar
90g unsalted butter
150g dark chocolate, chopped

Heat the oven to 200C and line and butter two 21cm sandwich tins.

To make the cake, mix together the egg yolks, 100g of the sugar, the butter (make sure it's soft), flour, cornflour, baking powder and bicarb in a bowl. Nigella likes to use her food processor but I don't have one, so use my trusty hand-mixer-whisk-thing and it always works fine. I suspect a firm arm and a fork would also do the job.

Add two tablespoons of the cocoa powder and the milk and mix again 'til it's all incorporated and looks like a fairly thick batter.

Spread into your prepared tins. This is a bit of a fiddle as it's quite thick, so probably best to dollop spoonfuls all around the bottom of the tins, then just spread them into each other. It'll be quite a thin layer, but that's okay. Try and get them as smooth as possible though, so your cake isn't too hilly.

Get another bowl and whisk your egg whites and cream of tartar until they create peaks (that stand up when you take the whisk out) then whisk in, a little bit at a time, the other 200g of sugar and the last tablespoon of cocoa powder. Pour half of the whisked egg white mix into each sandwich tin, over the top of the cake mix.

Try and get one of them as flat as possible (see comment re: hilly cakes, above) and then 'peak' the other one. This basically means pat it gently with a metal spoon so it forms little points and looks pretty and meringuey. Sprinkle your extra teaspoonful of sugar over the top, being careful to sprinkle evenly or your meringue will go wonky.

Pop them in the oven for 20-25 minutes. They'll be done when a cake skewer comes out without any sponge on it - poke the flat one, as no one will be able to see the holes later. Take them out and let them cool in their tins.

Make your frosting by melting the water, sugar and butter in a pan over a low heat.  Once it's all melted and starts to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chocolate. Give it a quick stir and leave to melt for a moment before giving it a good whisk until it's smooth.

Leave it for half an hour or so, at least until the cakes are completely cool, and I promise it will thicken up. Patience is a virtue.

Take the cake with the flat meringue out of its tin and put it, meringue down, onto whatever you want to serve it from. Spoon your cooled and thickened frosting over the top and spread evenly. Whip the double cream and dollop it onto the frosting, spreading that too. Then just place the other half of the cake on top, meringue side up.

I kept mine in the fridge 'til I was ready to serve it, but I think it probably would appreciate being allowed to get a bit closer to room temperature for maximum goo. And Boyfriend, of course, added MORE CREAM. I worry about his cholesterol. 

I did also make a chocolate orange bundt cake (now known as a bandit cake, as bundt is quite hard to say...), from Joy the Baker's fantastic recipe. But I forgot to take any more photographs after it came out of the tin so you'll just have to believe me that it was a thing of beauty and a delight forever*.

 (* a few hours, before it got eaten.)


  1. Goodness me, that looks incredible!

  2. Thanks Allie! Think it might be my greatest baking triumph (so far...)!