SERVES 10-12 PREPARATION 35 mins COOKING 45 mins
- 150 g (5½ oz/ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- 140 g (5 oz/1¼ cups) hazelnut meal
- 5 free-range egg whites
- icing (confectioners’) sugar, for dusting
- 110 g (3¾ oz/½ cup) sugar
- 90 ml (3 fl oz/3 shots) espresso coffee
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 5 free-range egg yolks
- 250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter, softened slightly and diced
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Mark a 20 cm (8 in) circle on three pieces of baking paper and place on three baking trays.
- Reserve 55 g (2 oz/ cup) of the sugar and sift the remainder with the hazelnut meal.
- Whisk the egg whites in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the reserved sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and glossy. Fold in the sifted sugar and hazelnut mixture quickly and lightly.
- Divide the mixture into three equal portions and spread each portion neatly on a baking paper circle, to form three meringue rounds (you can also use a piping bag to do this – start from the middle and gradually spiral out to the edge of the circle).
- Bake the meringue rounds for 20–25 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. If making the meringue ahead, cool and store in airtight containers for up to 1 week.
- For the coffee crème, dissolve the sugar in the coffee in a small saucepan over a very low heat, then bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the syrup falls in a thread from the spoon – if you have a sugar thermometer, it should register 112°C (234°F). Turn off the heat and stir in the cardamom.
- In an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks for 1 minute. With the motor running, gradually add the hot syrup in a very slow stream. Continue beating for 3 minutes, then add one cube of butter at a time with the motor still running. Beat until all the butter is thoroughly incorporated and the crème is light, fluffy and silky. Chill in the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up a little.
- To assemble the cake, spread the coffee crème evenly, about 1–2 cm (½–¾ in) thick, on top of two of the meringue rounds with a small spatula (you may have some coffee crème left over). Lay one of the topped meringues on top of the other, then top with the final un-topped meringue. To serve, dust with icing sugar and cut into wedges.
Recipe and image from Margaret and Me by Kate Gibbs, published by Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99.