Sometimes you see a recipe, and you know you have to make it. Immediately. This was one of those recipes. No special occasion, no dinner guests, just an ordinary weeknight made extraordinary by this cake.
To be fair, we did use this as an opportunity to break in our new mini-springform pan. An adorable little thing that makes a perfect size pastry for two. I found a 7″ pan, which I determined, after doing some kind of crazy math I hadn’t seen since 7th grade, required 2/3 of the original recipe. I think a 6″ pan would be perfectly half (but that would have been too easy). Despite the complicated math required to scale the recipe just perfectly (2/3 of 4 egg whites? Really?) the resulting cake was just delightful. The perfect size for the two of us to finish off in a few days, before it had a chance to go stale. Sorry neighbors, this one was not meant to share!
The cake itself was perfectly imperfect. My meringue was anything but pretty, and it crumbled to bits when cut. No matter, it tasted divine. And that is what really counts. The contrasting textures of the light meringue and the densely rich flourless cake combine in perfect harmony. Perfect, decadent harmony.
Chocolate & Hazelnut Meringue Cake
Recipe from Martha Stewart via Tartlette.
Makes one 9-inch cake (scale recipe 2/3 for a 7″ mini cake – this converter might help).
For the cake:
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
3/4 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
6 large whole eggs, separated
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons espresso
1 1/2 tablespoons rum
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the meringue:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped (1 cup)
1 cup hazelnuts (about 4 ounces), toasted, skinned, and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-3-inch springform pan. Line bottom with parchment paper. Butter parchment and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and brown sugar until pale and smooth at medium speed, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping the bottom and sides of your bowl if necessary. Add the melted chocolate, espresso (or vanilla), rum, if using, and salt. Beat until combined. Transfer to a clean bowl and wash your mixing bowl thoroughly.
In a clean mixer bowl fitted the whisk attachment, beat the 6 egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Fold one-third of the egg whites into chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining egg whites and pour batter into prepared pan, and bake 25 minutes.
While cake base is baking, prepare the meringue. Combine the chopped chocolate, nuts and cornstarch in a small bowl, and set aside. Place remaining 4 egg whites in a clean mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until frothy. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, about 8 minutes. Fold in hazelnut mixture.
After 25 minutes, remove cake from oven. Using a large offset spatula, quickly spread meringue mixture on top of cake using as little strokes as possible not to deflate the meringue, and return to oven. Bake until meringue is lightly browned and crisp, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let stand 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen, and release sides of pan. Let cool, about 30 minutes, before slicing and serving.
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I love this cake and have made it several times. The textures contrast so well the soft cake smooshes into the meringue and it’s delicious!
What is the best way to store this cake, in the fridge or in an air tight container?
Does the espresso need to be brewed or, do I just put the espresso powder in the cake?
This recipe calls for brewed espresso. But if you just have powder mix up a small batch with the appropriate amount of liquid and use that.
Amazing recipe! I made this today and it came out phenomenal, even the meringue came out great and it was my first time. This will def be a favorite of mine:)
How would this do made as cupcakes? I have several friends that avoid gluten and this recipe sounds wonderful!
Your cake looks amazing! I would love to make this cake for my husband for his birthday. I’m not the best when it comes to math and woud like to halve the recipe as you did. Is there any way I could get the 2/3 coversion recipe from you? Thanks so much.
This looks delicious! Great photos!
Absolutely delicious looking cake. Yum!
I think I might need this in my life this weekend…
Chocolate and Hazelnuts make a fantastic combination.. and who cares if the meringue broke when cut, I think it makes it look even more delicious!!
What an absolutely stunning photo! The cake looks amazing and perfect for a party!
ooooh, this looks heavenly. I love chocoalte!! Must give it a try. Beautiful blog!
This sounds delicious Lindsay! And the picture is simply beautiful! Love it!
This cake looks outstanding. I can imagine the crunchness with the smoother chocolate cake must make a wonderful combination.
Love this cake. It looks delicious!
Meringue and I have an agreement of sorts. I agree not to make it, and it agrees not to flop on me! Of course sometimes I ignore our contract and make it anyway, using a recipe I found that incorporates cornstarch to help “hold it together.” Even so, when I made a lemon meringue this week, it didn’t fluff up pretty for me. Probably had a bit of egg yolk in the mixture. Or maybe it was the meringue getting even…
I saw this recipe too and wanted to make it right away but had no event! Scaling it down is definitely a great way to try new things out without having an entire 8-person cake sitting in your kitchen. Seeing this again makes me want to make it that much more! Beautiful!
we have the same pan, and use it for all sorts of two-person treats — from pumpkin pie, to key lime cheesecake, to flourless chocolate cake. THIS certainly needs its turn. and i think the crumbly top make it all the better!
I quite like the fact that your meringue went a bit crumbly, it adds some nice contrasting texture. The chocolate cake however is what made me stop in my tracks and drool. I have no choice but to make this cake. I’m very tempted to get a 7inch pan as well. I like the idea of making just enough cake.
chocolate and hazelnuts can always be good friends in my book. :) Not surprised you rushed to make this, it looks like a winner!
I still need a pan small enough for two although my parents never complain when they get the leftovers! Lol… This looks delicious and who cares if it crumbles?
Beautiful! I am always scared to make layer cakes because I stink at frosting them. Might have to give this one a try since no crazy layers of frosting!
A desert recipe with no figs?!? Say it ain’t so!
Love your pictures!
Don’t worry, I’ve got more fig recipes coming soon! :) haha.
I saw this recipe a while back and been wanting to make it. I even have all the ingredients except for espresso. Yes, even hazelnuts – my house always stocked with at least two pounds, and even a secret one in freezer.
Can you taste the coffee flavor? Neither one of us likes coffee, so I’m wondering if I can omit that?
The espresso doesn’t make the final cake taste like coffee… by nature the coffee simply serves to intensify the chocolate. But you can leave it out if you wish, maybe add some vanilla in it’s place?
Now that we have had our first dusting of snow on the mountain peaks, and the house/kitchen is cool again this is first on my list of things I must bake! Love the irregular cracks when cut. Does it need a tad of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt?