I have had fond recollections of a cake I had made back in my school days; I remembered it as layers of hazelnut meringues and ganache and (the oh-so-gorgeous Fat Bomb) French buttercream. For some reason it had been sticking in my mind the past few months, and I decided that it had to be my birthday cake.
I still had my school recipe, but after a few searches online, I decided on Godiva Chocolate’s version. I did a few things differently, the main thing being rather than spread the meringue into a full-sized sheet that would be cut after baking, I traced rectangles out on parchment paper and then piped the meringue into the rectangles (which is how I remember doing it in school). In retrospect, I should have gone for the whole sheet–it would have saved me time, and I would have had more evenly sized pieces. I didn’t bother with the Frangelico or butter in the ganache, and doubled the amount of chocolate covered hazelnuts for decoration.
One of those tricky things in life is getting those darn skins off of hazelnuts.
I didn’t need to get every little bit of skin off of them, especially when they’re getting a trip to the Cuisinart. Getting all the flaky parts is the key. After roasting them in the oven, I let them cool for about 10-15 minutes–they were still a mite warm, but easy to handle. I piled them on one side of a towel, and folded over the other side, giving them a rubdown. The skins slid right off. From there, I saved the ones to be dipped in chocolate, and the rest went into the food processor to be finely ground.
After the meringues were baked and cooled, it was time to do some layerin’.
See what I mean about the uneven sizes of the meringues? I could have trimmed them, yes, but I didn’t. I went with it.
Besides, my family motto is gelu exuviae a vulgus of delictum* (Frosting covers a multitude of sins), as shown here:
I used the buttercream like spackle–filling in the gaps, and creating a smooth surface. with a very thin layer (you might hear Martha Stewart call it a “crumb coat”–ok, ok, I call it that, too). I popped that into the fridge for about 30 minutes for the buttercream to set, then I spread the final coat for a nice, smooth finish.
I finally finished this around 2:30 in the morning–note that everything was looking great until the very last part–the piping at the bottom–I had finally hit the wall and the buttercream was getting really soft… well, let’s just say I usually do a much nicer job but there was a pillow screaming my name at that point.
Ah, there’s a nice cross-section for you. It was as good as I remembered it, if not better. I served it with a Zinfandel Port (very yummy, and only $10 from Trader Joe’s) that was absolutely perfect.
Can I tell you I’m sad that I don’t have any more? I gave away the rest at the office on Monday morning, because that stuff is dangerous. Who’s birthday is next? Any major celebrations coming up? C’mon, give me a reason to make another!