About this recipe:Otherwise known as Vacherin - this cake consists of delicious layers of crisp hazelnut meringue, sandwiched together with whipped cream and garnished with strips of rich, dark chocolate. It's a truly decadent dessert.
6 egg whites
175g caster sugar
100g icing sugar, sieved
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornflour
100g hazelnuts, lightly-roasted, de-skinned, cooled, processed in a food processor to fine/coarse crumbs
115g plain chocolate, chopped
300ml whipping cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar, sieved
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
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Preheat oven to 125 C / Gas 1/2. Line three baking trays with parchment paper. With a pencil, draw 5 circles 23cm in diameter on the parchment paper. It is best to trace around a cake tin or large saucepan.
In a large clean bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add caster sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Sift together the 100g icing sugar, cinnamon and cornflour, toss them together with the ground hazelnuts, then carefully fold them into the egg white mixture. Divide the mixture evenly between the 5 circles, spread the meringue out to the edge of the drawn circle.
Bake for 3 to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until the meringue is completely dried out. Cool on wire racks.
Melt the plain chocolate over a double boiler until smooth. Spread over parchment paper or greaseproof paper into a 30x25cm rectangle. When chocolate is set, cut the rectangle into 10-2.5cm strips. Cut 8 of the strips into thirds. Cut the remaining strips into fourths. Set aside.
To make the filling, beat the whipping cream with the 1 tablespoon of icing sugar until stiff. Spread whipped cream over all of the meringue layers. Using one of your prettiest plates, stack the layers on top of one another. Use two-thirds of the remaining whipped cream to spread around the outside edge of the cake. Put the rest of the whipped cream into a piping bag and pipe rosettes around the edge. Place the 24 long chocolate strips vertically around the sides of the cake. Arrange the remaining pieces of chocolate on the top in the design of your choice. Dust the cake with cocoa powder for a dramatic finish, serve as soon as possible, as the meringue will soak up moisture from the whipped cream.