Here comes another Birthday celebration. Yes, twice in a month; and don’t be surprised if there’s a 3rd one coming up! This time, Mom and Dad brought Dim Sum to our place and we had lunch together. I prepared this cake so we can have the cake cutting and wish making rituals; I remember we always have birthday cakes and other goodies to celebrate our birthdays when we were young. Those were precious memories. Mom even brought over some of our childhood pictures. It was so nice to see those pictures again. Gosh, I really looked young back then!
Next to me was my older brother. Doesn’t he look handsome? I remember we had many birthday pictures with this background until we moved to the new place when I was 7 or 8. I still remember those bright pink plastic plates we always use for birthday cakes! Come to think of it, I should have made some jelly to go around mom’s birthday cake also! :P
Back to the Chocolate and Hazelnut Meringue Cake. I had so much fun making this cake because I knew my Mom would love it a lot. I used some good quality bitter-sweet chocolate for the cake base (flourless). It’s worth it to invest a little more on the chocolate because you can totally taste the difference. The chocolate is so rich that you want to close your eyes, enjoy and savor every moment when you take your first bite (oh well, maybe that’s just me). I love the contrasting texture of this cake. The meringue is light and fluffy, the toasted hazelnuts add a nice crunch, along with the smooth and silky chocolate base. Hope mom enjoyed this cake as much as I did. Happy Birthday again, Mom. I love you!
Chocolate and Hazelnut Meringue Cake:
Makes one 9-inch cake
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- Cocoa Powder, for pan
- 1 cup hazelnuts
- 3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
- 6 large whole eggs, separated
- 4 large egg whites
- 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled, plus 4 ounces roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon espresso
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup caster sugar
Toast hazelnuts until fragrant and skins start to crack. Rub vigorously with a clean kitchen towel to take off skins. Let cool; roughly chop. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and smooth. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition, until mixture is light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate, vanilla, and espresso; beat until combined. Set aside.
In a clean mixer bowl, combine 6 egg whites and salt; using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Stir one-third of the egg whites into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining beaten egg whites just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make meringue: Combine hazelnuts, chopped chocolate, and cornstarch in a small bowl, and set aside. Place remaining 4 egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean mixer bowl; using a clean whisk attachment, beat on high speed until frothy. With mixer running, slowly add caster sugar; continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Fold in hazelnut mixture.
Remove cake from oven. Using an offset spatula, spread meringue mixture on top of cake, and return to oven. Bake until meringue is lightly browned and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let stand 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, and release sides of pan. Let cool, about 30 minutes, before slicing and serving.