cheats’ chocolate meringue cake
Every year around the middle of June, you can expect to see a chocolate cake in my instagram feed.
It started three or four years ago, when I first met my brother-in-law, the infamous Mr S. Chocolate lover extraordinaire, the kind of person who’d easily demolish a box of Guylian seashells in a sitting and chase them down with a nutella milkshake.
(I remember once, when I was living with the Bean, noticing that my crumpled, unopened bag of Lindor balls had somehow become straighter, and shinier, and… had a later best before date than I previously noticed. Further investigations resulted in guilty admissions of late night chocolate munching and hasty replacements – but by the time it got to that stage, I was laughing far too hard to care when and how it had happened.)
I make a chocolate cake for him every year – a rarity amongst even my closest family.
I bought dad’s cake last year. And Koji’s. I think Mum’s was made my me, but not specifically for her birthday, and so she blew candles out over a third-of-a-cake.
The Bean gets cake from time to time, though the last one I recall her having was Sombrero shaped and for a 21st.
And yet, this guy, well.
I’d actually almost forgotten, this year.
They’d been away for three weeks – honeymooning around Spain and eating their weight in jamon while I caught up on sleep and stayed as far away as I could from all forms of chocolate mousse after making 80 portions for their wedding.
And then a nudge came, one Sunday morning.
“Pssssst!” said the Bean, “It’s his birthday. Today!”
“Oh!” said I, caught somewhat unawares. “I’ll make a cake this afternoon. We’re celebrating tomorrow, right?”
“Yes. Good. Shhhhhh! He’s coming!”
But I was a little unprepared and a tad short of time, so I figured a packet of brownie mix, some additional leavening and a towering crown of meringue would suffice.
(A slew of insta-love later, I thought it might, maybe, be worth sharing).
So. To cakes that look like far more effort than they are. To brothers-in-law who couldn’t be more loveable if they were family by blood, and to having an entire cake for 20 demolished by six in less than two days.
(Guess who ate most of it?)
- 1 packet chocolate brownie mix
- Ingredients stated on the packet
- one extra egg
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 egg whites
- ¾ C caster sugar
- 1 cup thickened cream
- 1½ cups dark chocolate chips
- Line two 23cm spring form (or removable base) baking tins with baking paper and pre-heat your oven to the temperature stated on the packet mix.
- Empty the contents of the brownie mix into a bowl and sift the teaspoon of baking powder over the top. Whisk it together. Add the remaining ingredients listed in the mix, plus the extra egg and whisk to combine.
- Pour the mixture into the tins and bake for 15 minutes.
- While the brownie mixture is baking, put the egg whites into the clean bowl of a stand mixer and whisk until it is frothy. Continue to whisk the egg whites, adding the caster sugar in, in a slow stream, until all of the sugar has been added and the egg whites are glossy and able to hold a peak.
- Take one of the brownie mix tins out of the oven and pile the meringue on top, forming peaks with a spatula. Try to pile it in the middle of the cake as much as possible, as it will expand outwards while it bakes.
- Put the brownie tin (with meringue crown) back in the oven and continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until the other brownie is fully baked and the meringue top looks lightly brown and crisp to touch.
- Let the cakes cool until they are close to room temperature in their tin and then carefully unmold them to cool completely.
- While the cakes are baking, heat the cream in a saucepan until it is steaming, then add all of the chocolate chips in at once. Whisk to combine and then set aside to cool.
- When the chocolate mixture is cool to touch, put it in the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, and whisk until it is almost tripled in volume and beautifully airy.
- To serve, pipe the whipped chocolate ganache on top of the flat layer of brownie-cake, pop the meringue-topped layer on top and serve to great applause.