Well I haven’t managed to enter the Forever Nigella Event, the brain child of Sarah from Maison Cupcake, for a couple of months, so I thought it was about time I did. The theme this month chosen by Arthi at Soul Curry is Iced Dreams. I don’t have an ice-cream maker. Making it by hand conjures up not so fond memories of lots of beating, in and out of the freezer and then ending up with ice crystals anyway. So the idea of ice-cream didn’t really appeal. However, looking through my trusted copy of How to Be a Domestic Goddess, I came across a recipe for Chestnut Ice-Cream Meringue Cake and no churning was needed. Lush, rich and sumptuous, this seemed a very apt dessert for a Nigella challenge. As it happened, when I went to put the finished cake in the freezer, I realised I had no room anyway. That was fine, it went into the fridge instead and became a chilled cake, which, luckily for me is permitted. As usual, I ended up doing something a little different to the actual recipe: first off, I only made half the amount – I didn’t want to make it too sweet so used less sugar than stated, I added a bit of cocoa and used creme fraiche rather than cream. I also used cardamom sugar so omitted the vanilla.
This is what I did:
- Whisked 3 egg whites until the soft peak stage.
- Gradually whisked in 120g of cardamom sugar (caster sugar) until the mixture was stiff.
- Whisked in 1 tbsp cocoa.
- Stirred in 1 tsp cider vinegar.
- Lined 2 baking trays with baking parchment and drew 3 saucer sized circles – about 15 cm (which spread to about 17 cm when cooked) on the parchment, only just managing to squeeze two onto one sheet.
- Divided the mixture between the three circles and spread to fill them.
- Baked at 150C for 30 minutes then turned the oven down to 100C for a further 35 minutes.
- Turned the oven off and left in until cold.
- Beat 1/2 a can of sweetened chestnut puree (about 220g) with 2 tbsp of rum and 40g icing sugar until smooth.
- Stirred in 300ml creme fraiche (home made).
- Placed a meringue circle on a plate and spread with 1/3 of the chestnut cream.
- Topped this with another meringue circle and spread with another 1/3 of the cream.
- Topped with the final meringue and spread the last 1/3 of cream over the top.
- Shaved about 10g of 35% milk chocolate over the top to decorate.
- Placed in the fridge to set and chill (about 4 hours).
The finished cake tasted heady and ambrosial with the tropical rum flavour very much to the fore. It was rich and creamy. This made a good contrast to the crunchy meringue layers. CT summed it up with one word – delicious! Sliced into eight pieces, one slice was certainly enough. There was one downside though, as illustrated in this picture: after the first slice the crunch disappeared from the meringues as the moist mixture was slowly absorbed. I guess this wouldn’t have happened if I’d been able to freeze it as instructed. Served immediately as a dinner party dessert, this would have been superb.