I love having Mondays off. It is a day when I can tackle more ambitious projects and be relaxed doing it.
The first thing I did on my day off was to come up with a way to modify the blog. I have decided that I have been making this recipe/cookbook challenge a whole lot more complicated then it is. Instead of picking recipes randomly, I am going to pick a cookbook and feature it for a week. I will be picking three to four recipes from the cookbook, recipes that show the theme of the cookbook. I know this will take planning but it will help me to be a bit more organized. I hope everyone has fun with this idea and I hope everyone will look forward to the cookbooks I will be featuring.
The second thing I did was make an absolutely delicious dessert from one of my favorite cookbook authors. I fell in love with Nigella Lawson’s work when she was on the Style Network. She is funny, creative, and brilliant. I have almost all of her cookbooks. I still need to get the Christmas cookbook that just came out. Her cookbooks are written in a style that is both personable and informative.
Gooey Chocolate Stack, in the cookbook Nigella describes it as chocolate heaven, and that is exactly what it is. The crisp layers of the meringue discs and the smooth creaminess of the crème patisserie blended into a perfect chocolate sensation. The recipe did take a little planning and a small amount of extra work, but was worth every bite full. Nigella’s directions were easy to understand and simple to follow. My only suggestion with this recipe is that you assemble it right before you eat it. If the stack sits to long the meringue discs begin to soften because of the pastry crème.
Gooey Chocolate Stack
6 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
For the chocolate crème patissiere:
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups whole milk
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
- Line the baking sheets with parchment and draw an 8-inch circle on each one. I use a ruler and made a general guess as to how big an 8-inch diameter circle was. Nigella recommends finding a bowl or a cake pan with the dimensions you are looking for, plonk it on the pan and trace it.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff, and then add the sugar a spoonful at a time, beating in well after each addition. The mixture will become very glossy.
- Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar and then fold in gently but firmly.
- Divide the meringue among the 3 circles, spreading evenly. Nigella directions assured me that I didn’t have to be gentle when I did that step, but I didn’t want to take any chances.
- Cook for 1 hour, and then turn off the oven, leaving the meringues in until cool. Nigella also suggests making the meringue discs before bedtime and leaving them in the oven over night.
- ‘For the crème patissiere: beat the egg yolks and sugar together, then add the coca 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.
- Stir constantly, bring to a boil.
- When the mixture has thickened, take it off the heat and stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla.
- Let the crème cool. The quickest way to do this is, by making an ice bath in the sink and plunging the pan in and continue stirring until the mixture is cooled down and thickened even more.
- To assemble the cake, place one of the meringue discs on a flat plate and spread a third of the chocolate cream, then carry on layering.
- Top with toasted pistachios or fruit if desired.