Dessert queen Claire Saffitz may be known for her elaborate baking creations, but luckily for all of us beginner bakers, she has a way of explaining tricky techniques to set you up for success. This flourless chocolate meringue cake (from her new cookbook, What’s for dessert) will expertly teach you how to make brilliant meringue, with the added bonus of a decadent treat at the end.
“Meringue is a magical mixture of egg whites and sugar that can be used in so many ways,” Saffitz writes, “but the first time I learned it could be baked right on top of a cake is when I saw pastry chef Liz Prueitt’s recipe for Sweet Potato Tea Cake with Meringue. It seemed like an exceptionally clever technique that I wanted to try, and it made sense to use it. use in a cake where the meringue is already part of the recipe, such as without flour chocolate cake. Not only does it look appealing on top of the cake, it bakes into a light, crispy shell that gives in to the rich crumb.
What’s for dessert? Copyright © 2022 by Claire Saffitz. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Jenny Huang. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
1. Place an oven rack in the center and preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush bottom and sides with 9 inch springform pan of oil, making sure to coat the sides all the way to the edge. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and brush with more oil, then set the pan aside.
2. Fill a medium saucepan with about 1 inch of water and bring to a boil over medium-low heat, then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate, oil, coffee and 1½ teaspoons of salt and set it on top of the pan, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water (this is called a water bath). Stir occasionally with a flexible heatproof spatula until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is completely smooth, then remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.
3. Add egg yolks, vanilla and ¼ cup (50g) sugar to chocolate mixture and whisk vigorously to combine. Whisk almond flour until well blended. It will look broken and separated, which is no problem! Add ¼ cup (57g) water and whisk vigorously until mixture comes together and is smooth and glossy. Set the bowl aside.
4. Prepare the meringue: In another clean, large, non-plastic bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and remaining pinch of salt on medium-low speed until the whites are broken up and fluffy, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and continue beating until whites are frothy and opaque, about 30 seconds, then gradually add remaining ¾ cup (150 g) sugar in a slow, steady stream, beating constantly. Once all the sugar is added, increase the speed to high and continue beating until you have a dense, glossy meringue that holds a stiff peak on the beaters. Try not to over-beat or the whites will take on a dry, grainy texture and be difficult to incorporate.
5. Make the dough: Take a good cup of meringue and set it aside to swirl it on top of the cake. Scrape about half of the remaining meringue into the bowl with the chocolate mixture and fold gently until only a few ridges remain. Scrape the remaining meringue and fold until you have a light, airy, evenly blended batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, then spoon spoonfuls of the reserved meringue all over the surface. Use a skewer or toothpick to swirl the meringue into the batter. Shake a little or a lot; It’s yours.
6. Bake the cake until the surface is risen and crackled, the meringue is lightly browned, and a skewer or cake tester inserted in the center comes out shiny but clean, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and place it on a wire rack, then immediately run a paring knife or small offset spatula between the top of the cake and the edge of the pan to loosen any areas that may be stuck (this will help the cake deposit evenly while cooling). Cool the cake completely. Cut again on the sides to loosen the cake, then remove the outer ring from the pan.
Move forward? Yes. Properly wrapped and stored at room temperature, this cake will keep for up to 4 days, but is best eaten on the first or second day while the meringue topping is still crisp (it will soften over time).
Do it nut-free? Yes. Although not a common ingredient in most grocery stores, sunflower seed flour is a good nut-free alternative to almond flour.
Use a stand mixer instead of a hand mixer? Yes. Combine the egg whites and salt in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and continue the recipe as directed, noting that the meringue will whip faster and be easier to beat in the stand mixer.