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Gooey Chocolate Stack

by . Featured in HOW TO BE A DOMESTIC GODDESS
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Introduction

This is for those days or evenings when you want to usher a little something out of the kitchen that makes you thrill at the sheer pleasure you've conjured up. It isn't about showing off, it's about intensity: meringue that's marshmallow-gungy within and chewily crisp without, cocoa-flecked and feathery light; together with a slick, glossy creme patissiere into which you've stirred the darkest of dark chocolates. I didn't think I believed in such things, but this is it: chocolate heaven.

This is for those days or evenings when you want to usher a little something out of the kitchen that makes you thrill at the sheer pleasure you've conjured up. It isn't about showing off, it's about intensity: meringue that's marshmallow-gungy within and chewily crisp without, cocoa-flecked and feathery light; together with a slick, glossy creme patissiere into which you've stirred the darkest of dark chocolates. I didn't think I believed in such things, but this is it: chocolate heaven.

Gooey Chocolate Stack
Photo by Petrina Tinslay

Ingredients

Serves: 10-12

Metric Cups

For the Meringue Discs

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 300 grams golden caster sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

For the Creme Patissiere

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 100 grams golden caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 300 millilitres full fat milk
  • 300 millilitres double cream
  • 100 grams dark chocolate (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 20 grams chopped pistachios

For the Meringue Discs

  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1½ cups superfine sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

For the Creme Patissiere

  • 6 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 1¼ cups heavy cream
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 140ºC/gas mark 1/275ºF.
  2. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment and draw a 20cm / 8 inch circle on each one. The simplest way to do this is simply to find a bowl or cake tin with the desired dimensions, plonk it on and draw round it.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add the sugar a spoonful at a time, beating in well after each addition. Believe me - and I speak as someone often criminally impatient - it does make life easier to go slowly here. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar and then fold in gently but firmly.
  4. Divide the dusky meringue between the 3 circles, spreading evenly. You don't need to worry too much about beating the air out of them as you smooth; I find they withstand a modicum of brutality.
  5. Cook for 1 hour, then turn off the oven, leaving the meringues in until cool. Often, I just make them before I go to bed and leave them in the switched-off oven overnight. It makes for less hanging about. And as long as you keep them airtight, with sheets of baking parchment in between, you can do these a good week or so in advance.
  6. Now for the creme patissiere: beat the egg yolks and sugar together, then add the cocoa and flour, whisking well. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan, then, whisking, pour this onto the eggs and sugar before pouring everything back into the saucepan on the heat and, stirring constantly, bring it to the boil. When the mixture has thickened, take it off the heat and stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla.
  7. Let it cool now, but avoid putting it into the fridge as it will become too solid. You can stop it forming a skin either by covering with buttered baking parchment or greaseproof paper or by sieving a layer of icing sugar over. What I often prefer to do, however, and which cuts out more waiting around, is to plunge the saucepan into a sinkful of iced water and just keep stirring: it doesn't take long to get cold.
  8. To assemble the cake, place one of the meringue discs on a flat plate (I rather like those tea-shop cake-stands, though preferably in glass), spread with a third of the chocolate cream, then carry on layering. Scatter over the chopped pistachios, which will gleam out, a tender grass-green against the dark chocolate. Then just cut in: and you'll find that it gives the illusion of a fine layering of multi-stacked, custard-bellied wafers; this is because each meringue, with its soft innards and crisp carapace, looks and tastes like three layers, not one.
  1. Preheat the oven to 140ºC/gas mark 1/275ºF.
  2. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment and draw a 20cm / 8 inch circle on each one. The simplest way to do this is simply to find a bowl or cake tin with the desired dimensions, plonk it on and draw round it.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add the sugar a spoonful at a time, beating in well after each addition. Believe me - and I speak as someone often criminally impatient - it does make life easier to go slowly here. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar and then fold in gently but firmly.
  4. Divide the dusky meringue between the 3 circles, spreading evenly. You don't need to worry too much about beating the air out of them as you smooth; I find they withstand a modicum of brutality.
  5. Cook for 1 hour, then turn off the oven, leaving the meringues in until cool. Often, I just make them before I go to bed and leave them in the switched-off oven overnight. It makes for less hanging about. And as long as you keep them airtight, with sheets of baking parchment in between, you can do these a good week or so in advance.
  6. Now for the creme patissiere: beat the egg yolks and sugar together, then add the cocoa and flour, whisking well. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan, then, whisking, pour this onto the eggs and sugar before pouring everything back into the saucepan on the heat and, stirring constantly, bring it to the boil. When the mixture has thickened, take it off the heat and stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla.
  7. Let it cool now, but avoid putting it into the fridge as it will become too solid. You can stop it forming a skin either by covering with buttered baking parchment or greaseproof paper or by sieving a layer of icing sugar over. What I often prefer to do, however, and which cuts out more waiting around, is to plunge the saucepan into a sinkful of iced water and just keep stirring: it doesn't take long to get cold.
  8. To assemble the cake, place one of the meringue discs on a flat plate (I rather like those tea-shop cake-stands, though preferably in glass), spread with a third of the chocolate cream, then carry on layering. Scatter over the chopped pistachios, which will gleam out, a tender grass-green against the bittersweet chocolate. Then just cut in: and you'll find that it gives the illusion of a fine layering of multi-stacked, custard-bellied wafers; this is because each meringue, with its soft innards and crisp carapace, looks and tastes like three layers, not one.

Tell us what you think

What 4 Others have said

  • I made the meringues from this recipe but instead of the ganache used a 750ml tub of cookies and cream ice-cream, as I was cooking for a pregnant friend who couldn't eat all those raw egg yolks. As per Nigella's suggestion for her similar chestnut ice-cream meringue cake I put the icecream between the layers of meringue, sprinkled it with a Flake bar and bunged the whole thing in the freezer for a couple of hours. It tasted terrific and still tastes pretty good a day later too.

    Posted by kemery82 on 1st September 2015
  • This was delicious! But, I will say, I put mine together about five hours before we ate it and the meringue just seemed to disappear, so the layers and crunch were gone. It still looked the same on the outside, but the inside had no layers. But...it was still amazing and rich! I have to try it again and assemble it right before eating.

    Posted by jjvankirk on 19th January 2014
  • This was AMAZING! Everyone commented on how delicious it was and i will definitely be making it again. Although i would recommend assembling the cake just before you are about to serve it otherwise the meringues get quite soggy. But the flavors are to die for!

    Posted by bellahoran on 6th December 2013
  • I made this as a pudding. I loved the chocolate meringue. The layers came out perfectly and they tasted divine. The chocolate creme patisserie is not for the fainthearted, a bit too heavy to my taste. Next time I will try it with whipped cream instead, maybe with a few raspberries? The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make all components in advance, so it's a great option if you have to make or bring a spectaculair desert for a dinner party.

    Posted by goddelijke huisvrouw on 14th November 2011
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