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#Baketogether Chocolate Meringue Cake ~ YOUR Way

Quite a shot, huh? Don’t be fooled.. it’s not my photo skills here at all but those of Bon Appetit magazine that pictured this month’s #BakeTogether on it’s December 2009 cover. Gorgeous, yes, but this glam image might make this recipe seem intimidating. I’d like to state upfront that while this cake is a project, it is very do-able and can be – and should be – done over several days. Once you read the recipe, you’ll see that the components are very straight-forward and easy to prepare. And, as always, I’m just an email or tweet away if  you have questions!

Before we get to the recipe itself.. a funny story..

When the recipe first appeared I heard from lots of readers who had questions, who loved the cake, and still some more folks who were looking for suggestions of how to change up the flavors. One such person was Barb Kiebel of Barb reached out to ask my thoughts on changing the flavors to suit her tastes (hazelnut and Frangelico, if I recall correctly. Or, maybe it was raspberries and framboise??). This exchange was the beginning of a great friendship that includes Barb’s complete redo of my website (the one you see here). Barb really is the Website Whisperer so reach out if you need an expert – she’s your gal. We are now friends on Twitter and trade comments, “barbs” and foodie observations on a daily basis – such fun.  Thanks B! Here’s Barb’s pre- #baketogether twist on this cake. Lucky Barb gets to make this cake a second time!

OK.. back to the recipe at hand.

Here’s the recipe as it appeared on the December 2009 cover of Bon Appetit As written in the mag, this recipe reminds me of an “After Eight” mint – a more sophisticated mint flavor than using ‘starlight mint” hard candies. This recipe gives you the amounts to flavor it with peppermint but because we #baketogether folks are all about spinning and twisting and changing the recipe to suit our own tastes and preferences, I’ve written the recipe below to be a straight-up chocolate cake with vanilla meringues. This way you are free to choose your own flavors or do it exactly as it appeared in BA.

Will you add a different flavor? Espresso? Raspberry? Caramel? Hazelnut? Orange? Or, heck, maybe a combo of two or more!

Will you make it round? Square? Individual?

Will you de-construct and just use the meringue?  (one note: if you just use the cake, make sure to soak it well in the syrup — its of the French variety so it’s drier than American-style cake.)

How about a different filling? Maybe mascarpone?

Will you make it with fruit in the middle? Raspberries sure would be pretty and pretty tasty.

What about nuts? Include or not.. just make sure to toast ’em  up so their flavors are upfront and happy.

And what about decorations?? Is this a good time to bust a move with your killer piping skills? Don’t be shy – go for it!

And.. the biggest question: To whom will you be serving this awesome, impressive cake? I hope you include the details of your event.. #inquiringminds !

You know the #baketogther drill, right? Use my recipe as a starting point and spin, twist and change it any and every way you want. Take some snaps, write a post and let us all know what you’ve created using all our fave social media (twitter, FB.. what have you). One change I’ve made for this #baketogether : I don’t want you all to have to wait until January to see everyone’s recipes — you might want to make one of these versions for another party! So.. I’ve included a linky thingy right below (above the recipe) so post your link and pick your thumbnail asap so we can all see your gorgeousness ASAP!

So, for now, I wish you all the very happiest and healthiest of holidays and I’m looking forward to us all baking together in 2012.  Just a hint: I’ve got bread on my mind….



Chocolate Meringue Cake with Chocolate Buttercream
Makes 12 to 14 servings.

For the meringue layers
1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup superfine sugar
Pinch table salt
3 whites from large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate cake:
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1/4 cup (3/4 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch table salt
2 large eggs
Yolks from 2 large eggs (these can be saved from the meringue whites)

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the chocolate buttercream:
24 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch table salt

For the syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

To make the meringue layers:
1. Position oven rack in the middle of the oven. Heat the oven to 175°F. Using a pencil, trace three 12 x 4 inch rectangles on a parchment sheet leaving about 1 inch between. Invert the parchment, pencil side down, and line a baking sheet. At this low temp, the meringue takes a long time to cook but it’s the only way to ensure white layers (which I feel is important for the finished visual). On the upside, it’s completely hands-free time and the meringue is easy to make and spread.

2. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar, superfine sugar, and salt. In a stand mixer fitted with wire whip, mix on medium low until frothy and well blended. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the whites form soft peaks, about 2 minutes. Continue beating while gradually adding the sifted sugars. When all the sugar is added, increase speed to high and whip until firm, glossy peaks form, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and add the vanilla extract. Beat until blended, about 10 seconds.

3. Divide the meringue evenly between the rectangles (about 1 cup each). Using a small offset spatula, spread the meringue in a even layer within the lines (about 1/2 inch thick). Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect – they will be trimmed after baking.

4. Bake the meringues until dried and crisp but not browned, about 3 hours. Turn off the oven and let the meringues cool completely.

5. Carefully lift the meringues off the parchment. Using a small, sharp knife and a sawing motion, carefully trim each rectangle to measure 12 x4 inches. Assemble the cake or store the meringue layers and kisses in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

To make the chocolate cake:
1. Position oven rack in the middle of the oven. Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8 1/2 x 12 inch jelly roll pan (this is a quarter sheet pan) with 1-inch sides and line the bottom with parchment. Lightly dust the sides with flour, tapping out any excess.

2.  Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and yolks until pale and foamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until thick enough to form a ribbon, about 3 minutes. Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and using a rubber spatula, gently fold until just blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, spread evenly.

3. Bake until the top springs back when gently touched, about 15 minutes. Let cool on rack about 15 to 20 minutes. Run a small knife around the pan to loosen the cake. Invert onto a wire rack and carefully peel off the paper. Let the cake cool completely.

4. Using a serrated knife, cut the cake into two 12 x4 inch rectangles. (the layers can be used immediately or wrapped in plastic and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days before assembling.)

To make the chocolate buttercream:
1. Melt the chocolate, cream, butter and corn syrup in a large bowl. (I use the microwave but an improvised double boiler works fine too.) Add the vanilla and salt and whisk until well blended and smooth. Set aside, stirring occasionally, until thick enough to spread. For faster cooling, set the bowl over a larger bowl filled with ice, stirring and scraping the sides frequently until room temperature (it will be thick enough to spread).

(Buttercream can be made up to 1 day ahead and stowed at room temperature or up to 4 days ahead and stowed in the refrigerator. Bring back to room temperature before assembling cake.)

To make the syrup:
1. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved and it comes to a boil. Slide the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool completely. (Can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days before assembling the cake.)

To assemble the cake:
1. Using your hands, brush away excess crumbs from the trimmed meringue and cake layers. Put a few small daps of buttercream down the center of a rectangular, flat serving plate or board and carefully arrange one meringue layer, topside up, on plate. To protect the plate from frosting smears, slip small strips of foil or parchment paper between the bottom layer and the plate. Using a small, offset metal spatula, spread about 3/4 cups of buttercream evenly over the layer. Place a cake layer, top side down, on the buttercream. Be sure the sides are aligned and then gently press down on the top layer. Brush generously with the syrup.  Spread with 3/4 cup of the buttercream and top with a meringue layer, top side up. Spread with another 3/4 cups of buttercream. Place the final cake layer, top side down and press down gently. Brush generously with the syrup.  Spread with 3/4 cup of the buttercream and top with a meringue layer, top side down (for a nice flat finish).

2. Scoop out and reserve about 3/4 cup of the remaining buttercream and set aside. Spread a thin layer of the remaining frosting over the entire cake to seal in any crumbs and fill in any gaps between layers with frosting. Wait about 5 minutes (chill, if possible) and coat the top and sides evenly with the remaining frosting leaving a smooth finish.

To Garnish:  Garnish the top with piped small dollops of remaining buttercream down the center and tuck a small “”something”” each dollop.

Refrigerate the cake at least 6 hours or up to 2 days. The cake is best when served slightly chilled but not cold.[/print_this]

Via Jennifer Nerissa Davis: Toasted almond meringue and chocolate biscuit, layered with raspberry coulis and chocolate buttercream made with Cacao Barry Cuban chocolate (70%), which has a strong, spicy flavor profile that offsets the tanginess of the raspberries.

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