Decidedly rich and one for sweet tooths, it’s the mocha chocolate layers between nutty meringue that make these the perfect little cakes for an indulgent afternoon tea or ending to a meal.
- toasted hazelnuts and cachous, to garnish (optional)
- 100 g toasted and peeled hazelnuts (see Baker’s tips)
- 4 eggwhites, at room temperature
- pinch of salt
- 220 g (1 cup) caster sugar
- 1 tsp natural vanilla essence or extract
- 3 egg yolks
- 150 g butter, cubed, at room temperature
- 100 g pure icing sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted
- 1½ tsp instant coffee granules
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time: 1 hour
Cooling time: 1 hour
Preheat oven to 100°C. Draw a 20 cm square on three separate pieces of baking paper. Line three baking trays with the paper, with the pencil marks facing down.
Process the hazelnuts in a food processor until finely ground.
Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment to whisk the eggwhites and salt on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With the motor running on medium-high, gradually add the sugar, a spoonful at a time, and whisk until the sugar has dissolved completely and the mixture is thick and glossy. Whisk in the vanilla. Use a large metal spoon or spatula to fold in the ground hazelnuts until evenly combined.
Divide the meringue evenly among the marked squares on the baking trays and use the back of a spoon to spread evenly to fill each. Bake for 1 hour 40 minutes, swapping the trays between shelves every 30 minutes, or until meringue is crisp. Turn off the oven and leave the meringue in the oven, with the door shut, for 2 hours or until cooled to room temperature.
Meanwhile, to make the mocha filling, combine the egg yolks, butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder and coffee granules in a medium heatproof bowl. Place over a bowl of gently simmering water (make sure the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl) and use an electric hand mixer to beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until thick, creamy and a spreadable consistency.
Spread half the mocha filling over one of the meringue layers. Place a meringue layer on top and spread over the remaining filling. Top with the final meringue layer. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 1 hour or until the filling is firm.
Carefully transfer the layered meringue to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to trim the edges and then cut into 9 squares. Dust each portion with cocoa before serving. Top with toasted hazlenuts and cachous, if desired.
• To toast and peel the hazelnuts, spread on an oven tray and toast in a preheated 180°C oven for 10 minutes, shaking the tray occasionally, until aromatic, lightly golden and the skins start peeling away from the nuts. Cool. Place the hazelnuts in a clean tea towel and rub to remove the skins.
• These cakes will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
This recipe is part of our Bakeproof: Little cakes.