This gâteau is sweet and a bit chewy with a hint of caramel bitterness. Use good dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids.
160g (1cup packed) soft brown sugar 4 medium (size 6) free-range egg whites Filling 100g (3½ oz) quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids, broken into squares or roughly chopped 3 Tbsp water 200ml (about 7 fl oz) cream
1 Preheat oven to 140°C (275°F). Put two 20cm (8”) flan rings (without bases) on baking sheets lined with baking (parchment) paper. Either line inside of rings with strips of baking paper (use a dab of meringue later on to hold the strips of paper in place) or lightly brush the inside of the rings with melted butter and dust with flour.
2 Push brown sugar through a coarse sieve. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually beat in the brown sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue whisking for 2-3 minutes until thick and satiny. Divide meringue between the flan rings, being careful not to knock out air. Smooth the surface with a knife.
3 Bake for 1 hour – preferably on the same shelf, otherwise alternate the position of the meringues once or twice during baking. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Carefully slip a slim, sharp knife between meringue and flan ring to loosen, then leave to cool completely.
4 When cool, put a light cooling rack on top of each meringue round (one at a time), invert, loosen from flan ring, remove ring and any paper attached to the meringue, then turn meringue topside up again.
5 Melt chocolate with water in a microwave (try 30 seconds, stir, then 20 seconds, stir, then 10 seconds), or in a small saucepan over gentle heat, stirring often. Cool. Whip cream until just thick and holding shape – and this is important – if it is too stiff it will turn buttery by the time the chocolate is folded in (if this happens, add a little liquid cream; it may help). Pour in chocolate and gently fold cream and chocolate together with a large spoon.
6 Put one meringue round on a cake stand or plate, then spread with chocolate cream filling. Put the other meringue round on top and dust with icing sugar. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving, or up to 8 hours (it keeps well, refrigerated, for 2-3 days).
Poached pears would make a fab autumnal accompaniment, as would strawberries in spring or summer. Read more about meringues here Meringues
Photography by Aaron McLean http://www.aaronmclean.com