If you ever have to make a cake that delivers, but can’t find the time for decorating tricks, this is the one you want. Granted, the baking time is more than your average sponge, but when the finished product consists of alternating layers of meringue and caramel cream, along with minimal decorating effort required, I say it’s worth the upfront investment in time.
Eaten within 2 days of being made, the sweet meringue holds a slight crunch against the caramel cream. Don’t wait too long though, as the merginues will soon absorb the moisture from the cream and turn soft. This is also one cake you can make in advance and keep in the freezer, fully assembled, taking it out 5-8 hours before it needs to be served.
You can make this as short as you’d like (two layers of meringue), or as high as you’d like. Here, I’ve opted for 4 layers of meringue to give the cake its height; I also think it’s the ideal amount before it gets too tricky to cut.
I wish I had some more photos to share for this recipe, but alas when I did the photoshoot, it was nearing winter and well, the lighting in the morning before having to leave for work just wasn’t ideal.
Part 1: Caramel sugar
This cake works best when the caramel is a bit darker – you’ll get a slight bitter taste to offset the sweet meringue, giving the cream more depth. This can be prepared weeks in advance and stored in a cool place.
- Warm up butter, cream and honey in a small pot – doesn’t need to boil. Set aside once ready.
- Place sugar into in a medium sized pot over medium heat, cook until medium brown. Remove from heat immediately.
- Slowly whisk in the butter cream mixture, a little bit at a time, stirring until everything is incorporated.
- Set aside to cool.
Part 2: Meringue
This can be prepared a couple days ahead of time, and warmed up in the oven to take any moisture out the day of assembling your cake.
260 mL egg whites
200 g caster sugar
170 g caster sugar
125 g ground almond
45 g corn starch
30 g coarsely chopped pecans
- Set the oven at 120⁰C/250⁰F.
- Trace a 10” tin on parchment paper with pencil. Flip parchment paper over, pencil mark down, and place on a flat baking tray. Repeat on 3 other parchment paper sheets and set aside.
- Place egg whites and first portion of caster sugar into a mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, whip until hard peaks are formed.
- In a separate bowl, mix remaining dry ingredients until well incorporated.
- Slowly fold in dry mixture into egg white mixture in thirds. Careful to not over mix, otherwise the egg whites will lose their stiffness.
- Spoon mixture into a piping bag with circular, medium sized nozzle.
- Pipe the outline that you previously traced.
- Spoon mixture into the middle of the circle. Using a palette knife, spread the mixture evenly within the outline, ensure that the top is as even as possible. You will want it to be no more than ¾ inch thick. To reduce any air bubbles, use the tip of the palate knife to tap various areas of within the circle, and use your palate knife to smooth it back out.
- Repeat steps 7-8 until you have 4 meringue bases piped.
- For any remaining mixture, spoon onto any space you can find within the baking sheet, making small dollops.
- Place trays in the middle of the oven, bake for 2 hours. Make sure you turn the tray 1 hour into baking.
- Check the meringue base by lightly touching the middle of the meringue, it needs to feel dry and solid.
- Set aside and cool.
Part 3: Assembly
100g Dark chocolate
850mL Whipping cream (or 600mL double cream and 250mL whipping cream)
¼ cup Caramel sugar
10g gelatin powder
- Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, once ready, paint the meringues with it and set aside to dry (or in the fridge). Don’t worry about cracks, you can always use the chocolate as a glue! Set aside.
- NOTE: if you’ve prepared the meringue a day or two before and it has managed to gather moisture, pop it in the oven for a couple minutes on 100⁰C/212⁰F
- In a small bowl, melt the gelatin powder with ¼ cup of water over a pan of boiling water. Once dissolved, spoon the caramel sugar in, mix well with a whisk and set aside.
- Using an electric hand mixer, whip the double cream/whipping cream in a large bowl until soft whipped.
- Spoon some of the mixture into the caramel to temper, and pour the mixture back into the cream, folding it in until well incorporated.
- Using a large round nozzle, pipe buttons on your first layer of meringue.
- Place the next layer lightly on top.
- Repeat steps 5-6 until you have 4 meringue layers stacked with buttons piped on the top layer.
- Drizzle with some caramel sauce if desired.
- Let it chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving – it will help the cream set and hold its shape.