Ludmyla Barchuk, Kyiv
This dessert is easy to make, but it takes at least two days. The tender meringue cake layers melt in your mouth, and the delicious frosting is worth the wait. The original recipe calls for cashews, but hazelnuts and even peanuts taste just as good. The recipe yields 2 cake layers, but you can make 3 by adjusting the ingredients accordingly.
Ingredients for two 10-inch cake layers
14 oz. caster sugar
10.5 oz. nuts
3.5 oz. flour
10 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla sugar
Ingredients for frosting (for two cake layers)
10.5 oz. butter (no less than 80%), at room temperature
9 oz. sugar
7 oz. milk
2 tsp. cocoa powder
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla sugar
1 tbsp. cognac
Carefully separate the egg whites from the egg yolks, cover with plastic wrap, and leave for 12-24 hours at room temperature. Note that even the tiniest bit of egg yolk will prevent the egg whites from whipping properly, so you may wish to separate the eggs one at a time. Also, egg whites will take longer to whip if they come in contact with a drop of water or fat.
Lightly roast the nuts and grind them, then add 10 oz. of sugar, the flour, and the vanilla sugar. Mix thoroughly. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks. Gradually add 4 oz. of sugar and continue beating for an extra minute. Add the mixture of nuts, sugar, and flour to the egg whites, mix carefully and pour into the pans lined with greased parchment paper.
Bake at 300℉ for 40 minutes; reduce the temperature to 250℉ and bake for another 2 hours. Without removing the cake layers from the pans, leave them for 12-24 hours to dry and condense, and only then remove them from the pans. If you wish, you can cut a small portion off the top of each layer to sprinkle on the sides of the finished cake.
To make the frosting, combine the egg yolks and milk and heat, stirring constantly (keep the heat low, so the egg yolks don’t start cooking). Add the sugar to the mixture and heat it on the stovetop again, stirring constantly until it thickens to the consistency of condensed milk. Put the frosting in a clean bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming, and let cool. In a separate bowl, whisk the butter with the vanilla sugar. When the color of the mixture lightens, add the egg-milk mixture (at room temperature) to the butter, and continue whisking to combine everything.
Divide the frosting in half. To one half, add the cocoa powder and mix. To the other half, add the cognac and mix. To decorate the cake, you may wish to add some food coloring to a portion of the white (cognac) frosting.
Spread some frosting on the bottom of your serving dish to prevent the cake layers from sliding. Lay out the first layer, frost with the white frosting, and top with the second layer. Cover the top and the sides with chocolate frosting. If desired, decorate the top with colored frosting flowers.