As the sun crept through my window on New Year’s Day, I gave myself a moment to hope. Depression has had its cold hands resting on my throat for a long time, but the ritual of a fresh new year offers opportunity like few other days can. I want to smile more. See more new things. Take more chances. Be better to myself. Love more. Forgive myself and be kind.
I also want to be more bold in the kitchen. I finally have the space, and maybe someday I’ll even have the appliance to really go bold with my kitchen experiments. I want to try bigger baking projects and be more creative, even though that’s never been my strong suit.
I want to take more photos of every day life, including photos of myself. I still think the word “selfie” is stupid, but I want to stop being afraid of my own face. Instagram should be very interesting this year.
So, this Mascarpone Meringue Cake is my first step toward being more bold. I had never made baked meringue before the first time I tried this cake. It was massive and risky. I wasn’t sure if it would be any good. Turns out, it’s freakin’ amazing, and actually not that hard to make. It looks hugely impressive, though, and your friends will never ever believe you if you tell them it was easy. The hardest thing is getting is transporting it. May I suggest making your friends and family come to you?
You’ll need plenty of time and patience to make this cake. It has three elements that have to be made separately. None of them is tricky, especially if you have a stand mixer. You will need a lot of time, though. I recommend making your meringue layers the day before, and then mixing the other elements and constructing your cake the next day.
I am nowhere near perfect, but I’m hoping we can grow together. Some people would probably say I should leave it to the experts, but I’ve never been particularly good at listening to some people. We might as well fail spectacularly. It will be an adventure, and it will taste awesome!
- 360 grams egg whites (from a carton)
- 2-1/2 cups sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 510 grams chocolate, semi-sweet or darker, chopped
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup creme de cacao liqueur
- 500 grams mascarpone, softened
- Preheat your oven to 250F. Line three baking sheets with parchment. Use a round cake pan, 8 or 9 inches, to trace circles onto each piece of parchment. Set aside
- Splash a bit of vinegar onto a paper towel and wipe down the bowl and whisk attachment of your mixer to make sure they're super clean. This is just a bit of chemistry magic to help your egg whites foam properly.
- Add the egg whites and salt to the mixing bowl, and beat until the egg whites become foamy. This will take a couple of minutes. Slowly add in the sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Be patient. This may take ten minutes or so.
- Divide your meringue mixture between your three baking sheets. Use an offset spatula or a butter knife to gently coax the mixture into your circles.
- Bake your meringue layers for at least 2 and a half hours and up to 3 hours. They need to be completely dry on the inside. Rotate your pans every half hour or so, and if you're cooking on multiple racks, switch out the pans to rotate oven position as well. If you can only fit two in your oven, you can stash the third on in the fridge while the other two bake. Allow your meringues to cool completely.
- Place your finely chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Heat your cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Keep a close eye on it, and stir frequently. The moment you see bubbles, take the cream off the heat and pour it over your chopped chocolate. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let it sit for a minute or so.
- Remove the tea towel, and begin gently whisking the cream and chocolate together. It will look a mess at first, but eventually, it will all come together in a glorious, glossy chocolate ooze. Put your ganache in the refrigerator to stiffen up a bit. You want it spreadable, but not drippy. I left mine in the fridge for about 40 minutes, giving it a stir every ten minutes.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, use the whisk attachment to beat the cream to stiff peaks, adding the sugar about halfway through. Add the creme de cacao, and whisk for a few more seconds to incorporate the liquid into the cream.
- Transfer your cream to a separate bowl. Add your mascarpone to the bowl of your mixer, and switch over to your paddle attachment. Beat the mascarpone for a couple of minutes just to make it a bit more light and fluffy.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, and use a rubber spatula to slowly beat your whipped cream into your mascarpone. Once everything is evenly incorporated, it's ready for cake building.
- To construct your cake, carefully peel the parchment paper off the bottom of your meringue layers. Place the first layer on your serving plate. Dollop a third of the mascarpone cream on the first layer and gently spread it around. Do the same with the ganache. Add the second meringue on top of this, then more cream and ganache. Place the final meringue on top, then spread the rest of your mascarpone, and finally the ganache on the top. I gave mine a bit of sparkle with some gold sprinkles. Put your cake back in the fridge for an hour or two, just to firm up. You're a miracle worker if you can cut this and keep it all in one piece, but it will taste awesome no matter what.
- Building this cake may be a bit nerve wracking, as you may hear a few cracks as you construct. Don't worry too much about it. It won't show, and it won't affect the taste at all. Just be as gentle as you can and keep smiling.