Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gooey chocolate stack

I'm sure its pretty obvious from the recipes I post on here that I have a sweet tooth... But I have to admit that meringues and meringue based recipes are my absolute Achilles heel.  I just love them! It may partly by that one of my earliest memories is of my mum making us meringues sandwiched together with whipped cream (droooooooool!)  or that they are so simple to make and yet can be so wonderfully different just by tweaking what you do with it.  Considering this it is amazing that I have not got round to make Nigellas Gooey chocolate stack sooner, as it is a pile of chocolate meringue discs sandwiched together with chocolate creme patisseiere-what more could you want?  Just the picture in How to be a domestic goddess is enough to make my tummy rumble.  Then if you look at the ingredients it just gets even better, 6 eggs, vats of chocolate and sugar and double cream to complete the calorie fest.  So a friends BBQ was an obvious opportunity to fulfuill this lamentable lapse.
Separating the eggs

Having a Kitchenaid for making meringue makes life so much easier for me, as I can just slosh the egg whites in and get it to whisk them up whilst I sit and watch- much better then standing and holding a hand whisk.  There are six egg whites in this so it does take a lot of whisking, and it really is better to hang fire with adding the sugar until you are sure the egg whites are really whisked and stiff.  I must admit to being a terribly impatient cook and am guilty of not whisking enough at this point, which usually results in rather dense, small meringues that don't rise, not the end of the world but not what I want.  I did deviate from Nigella a bit in this recipe, I used Cream of tartar to stabilise my egg white foam, not red wine vinegar, mainly because I didn't have any of the vinegar and also that's how I've always made meringue and it has not let me down yet!
Not quite whisked enough yet, but getting there.
Once you've made your basic meringue you carefully fold in cocoa powder to make it chocolatey then spread it out on three baking sheets.  As suggested by Nigella, it is best to draw circles on the baking parchment so you get them the same size, otherwise your stack may look a little weird!  These then get baked for an hour and left to cool, so far, so simple.
Folding in the Cocoa
Cooked meringue disc
The Chocolate Creme Patissiere (or pastry cream) was a bit more complex.  I've not tried this type of thickened custard before and although it was not as complex as I thought it was going to be, I may have rushed it a bit so mine was not as totally smooth as Nigella's looked.  It is made by beating together egg yolks and sugar, then pouring a mix of warm cream and milk onto these whilst whisking. The cream and milk must be warm but not too hot, or it will start cooking the egg yolk and they will scramble as you stir-not good! This mixture is then returned to the heat and brought to the boil whilst constantly stirring to prevent lumps then allowed to cool, then any additional flavours are stirred in, in this case melted chocolate and vanilla essence.  I managed this all quite well with the help of Mr EB, but on my own I could easily see that I might spill lots of things everywhere.  It turned out very chocolatey and shiny and tasted great, even if it was not entirely smooth.  The cake is put together in layers of alternating meringue and pastry cream and then I finished mine with toasted hazelnuts.  It was yum, a lovely mix of gooey chocolate cream and crispy meringue... And got eaten very quickly at the BBQ!
Chocolate goo!
Warm Chocolate goo!
Thick, warm chocolate goo!
Bulilding a tower of nom
Finished tower!
About to dissapear...

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