My boyfriend is a bit of a hazelnut fiend, especially when said nuts are combined with chocolate, so I knew I had to make this recipe as soon as I spotted it in Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet. It’s quite a summery bake, what with the meringue-style wafers and dollops of whipped cream, but it’s by no means unsuitable for the colder months!
I had to make this in two stages – the wafers on one day, and the chocolate cream on the next. The wafers are made with a meringue-like mixture of whipped egg whites and sugar, with flour, butter and hazelnuts stirred into it. I have to say it took me a loooong time to get the egg whites and sugar to a suitable consistency; I’ve never had to spend so long whisking before (and this was with an electric whisk)! To my relief, the mixture eventually came together and it was then just a matter of adding the other ingredients, spreading them into circles on the baking trays and sticking them in the oven.
The wafers ended up being quite meringue-y in appearance and texture, yet very wafer-like in taste. I assume this was the flour and butter coming into play, but it was a still a little odd! There’s no picture in the recipe book, so I just had to hope that’s what they were supposed to look like. Unfortunately, the wafers stuck extremely fast to the trays (even though I’d slathered them in butter), so there was a fair bit of breakage around the edges, which is why the finished cake looks pretty untidy!
So, the next day it was on to the cream. This was surprisingly faffy – I had to heat some sugar, cocoa and egg yolks together, leave it to cool for exactly 2 minutes, stir in some chopped chocolate and then stir a whole mess of whipped double cream into and it and chill it in the fridge. I ended up with chunks of chocolate in the cream where it didn’t manage to completely melt as I stirred it in, but this was no bad thing in my opinion! I then had to make a smaller batch of vanilla cream and proceed with the tricky business of layering the wafers and cream together.
I say tricky, because I am notoriously bad at making layer cakes look neat. The irregular shape of the wafers and the huge amount of cream didn’t help my cause with this bake, but I did my best! I spread the chocolate cream on three of the four wafers, then dolloped the vanilla cream on the same wafers, before piling them on top of each other, finishing with the ‘clean’ wafer. A quick sprinkling of icing sugar and voila! One very messy, calorific and delicious cake.
The cake was truly scrumptious – the wafers were chewy in the middle yet with a decided crunch to the outside, and the two types of cream combined wonderfully with the nutty and cocoa-y flavours. The wafers did soften after a day, but the cake was still lovely to eat! It disappeared in record time (and that’s saying something for my household), which is testament to just how moreish the cake was.
From Short & Sweet by Dan Lepard and also in his column for the Guardian.