Thursday, October 18, 2007

Rustic Japonaise

A Japonaise is French for damn good coffee meringue cake.

This cake was crunchy, chewy, and reminiscent of tiramisu but not as sharp- it exploits the mellow coffee flavour that you find in coffee with alot of milk and coffee ice creams. The almonds give it a great look and with a dusting of white icing sugar is the perfect finishing flourish. I got the idea for this cake from Europe- who make it with a precision that makes the many layers of meringe meltingly thin, and very neat and tidy. Alas, I cannot provide you with a precise recipe on this cake, as I did not use one at all in making it. Since you're all smart folk, my guidelines below should direct you towards a similar result. Please take note: when making the cream, it must be quite a dense texture, as when you slice into the chewy meringue there is the chance it will all ooze out the sides - if its made with whipped cream and the like.


12 egg whites
Heaps of sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
{Or just use a plain meringue recipe for above}
Boiled, skinned and ground Almond meal
Almond Extract - 1 tbsp for all layers should be enough.
Lemon Zest, only a little- 1 tsp per layer

Coffee Cream:
Icing sugar
touch of cream
{Or just use a plain buttercream recipe for above}
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp instant espresso mixed with 3-4 tbsp boiled water, strained and cooled

Topping- Slivered Almonds, toasted
Icing sugar


1. Once your meringue (egg whites + sugar) have reached the desired consistency, fold in the almond meal, extract and lemon zest. Mark circles out on two sheets of baking paper, flip over and pile the meringue on. Bake until desired doneness. The longer you leave it, the harder and chewyer it will get. That's a good thing, because it will soften with the cream. Leave in an open oven to cool.

2. At this point, you can make the butter cream. 3/4 way through the process add the espresso and vanilla. You can adjust both to how you wish.

3. When the meringues are cold, layer with butter cream, leaving enough to cover the top layer. Sprinkle with almonds and icing sugar, and refrigerate overnight. Remove 30 min before serving, to soften the cream.

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