Vanilla Latte Meringue Layer Cake

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Week 6 of the Great British Bake Off saw Dessert Week – which meant a step away from traditional cakes, and a look at more luxurious techniques and styles. The signature challenge was a meringue layer cake, the technical was verrines (layered panna cotta type things) and the showstopper was a dessert bombe.

I opted for the easiest dessert that I could share with colleagues, and also that didn’t require constant chilling in a large bowl.

Ever since I received my Heilala flavour-infused vanilla extracts from my kickstarter pledge, I’ve been using them in different bakes to bring out different flavours each time.

The vanilla extract flavours are fantastic – they’re subtle enough to not be overpowering, but strong enough that the flavour comes through.

So, knowing that I had coffee-infused vanilla extract, I decided that the best ability to use that would be with a coffee-flavoured meringue. This then meant I had to spit-ball ideas of what would go well with a coffee meringue, and realised that I could find inspiration from some of the dessert-style coffee drinks found around the world at various coffee shops.

But you don’t want to read any more about my blabbering. Let’s get straight to the recipe. Just a word of warning, while the making of each element of this cake takes less than 15 minutes, the baking and cooling of the meringue takes time, so give yourself a few hours.

Ingredients

Meringue:
3 egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 tablespoon Heilala coffee-infused vanilla extract (or just plain vanilla)
175 grams caster sugar

Coffee Cream:
200 ml double cream
2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 teaspoon Heilala coffee-infused vanilla extract (or plain vanilla)
5 tablespoons icing sugar

Vanilla Cream:
200 ml double cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons icing sugar

Caramel Drizzle:
200 grams caster sugar
75 grams unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature
125 ml double cream, room temperature

dark chocolate, optional

  1. Preheat the oven to 140°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper, and draw three identical rectangles about 20cm long, and 8 cm wide. Or you can just freestyle it when it comes time to pipe (like I did).
  2. In a free standing mixer, whisk the egg whites and coffee-infused vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the cream of tartar and whisk for 2 more minutes. Gradually add the sugar, 50 grams at a time, until all of the sugar has been added. Continue whisking until glossy and stiff – so that you can tip the bowl upside down and the meringue stays in place.
  3. Add the meringue mixture to a piping bag, and pipe out the meringue into the rectangles, going back and forth making a wavy pattern. Have a look at the photos to see what I mean.
  4. Place the two baking trays in the oven for 90 minutes, rotating (or swapping the trays from top to bottom) half way through. After 90 minutes, turn off the oven but DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. Allow the meringues to cool over an hour or two.
  5. In the mean time, make the caramel. In a saucepan, over medium heat, add the caster sugar and stir continuously. Once the sugar has melted, add the butter and continue to stir the butter through the sugar completely. Remove from the heat. Gradually pour the cream into the mixture and stir until fully combined. Allow to cool for 15 – 20 minutes before transferring to a jar. Caramel can be kept in the jar for a few weeks in the fridge.
  6. Once the meringues are cool, remove them from the parchment paper and set aside.
  7. Make the vanilla cream but combining all of the ingredients and whipping until stiff peaks form.
  8. For the coffee cream, whisk the cream and coffee granules first. Once fully combined, add the vanilla and sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form.
  9. Place the bottom layer of meringue on your plate. Pipe vanilla cream and coffee cream onto the meringue (I piped vanilla in two rows on the outside, and coffee cream through the middle). Place the second layer of meringue on top, and repeat. Finally, place the third meringue on top, and pipe vanilla cream in a wavy pattern on the top. Drizzle caramel over the top, and then grate dark chocolate on top of that.
  10. Enjoy!

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