There’s nothing better than watching a show about desserts and seeing how the pastry chefs meticulously build layers of cake alternating between raspberry mousse and sweet joconde, pipe buttercream in between delicate macaron shells, and dust vibrant colors on coffee creme filled chocolate bonbons…except I usually get so hungry by the end I’ll grab some inferior substitute from my pantry (like ready-made cookies and ice cream) to munch on while wishing I could eat whatever was on my screen. As there are no pâtisseries in the immediate 30 miles of my vicinity, the next best option is to make them myself.
I saw this recipe for a French meringue and caramel creme concoction a while ago, but it was not until I watched a Japanese drama called Shitsuren Chocolatier that I became fascinated by the idea of a spiced dessert. They had introduced pain d’épice, a traditional French bread that promised to make your house smell like Christmas and Thanksgiving wrapped together. While I also made my own rendition (in a later post!), I wanted to try a lighter and fluffier way to see what a spiced dessert would taste like. The recipe came from Cakechef but I’ve made some slight tweaks. So here goes!
100g Egg Whites
100g Granulated Sugar
35g Powdered Sugar
Some almond slices
Caramel Cream- (Caramel Epice Base & Crème Pâtissière)
Caramel Epice Base
150g Heavy Whipping Cream
1g All Spice
1/4 Stick Vanilla Bean
500g Whole Milk
100g Egg Yolks (about five, since one yolk weighs 18-22g)
1/2 Vanilla Bean
25g Cake Flour
Chantilly Cream- (Whipping Cream & Sugar. 10:1 ratio)
- Beat egg whites on high speed until white & foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar and keep mixing until it forms stiff peaks.
- Turn off the mixer. With a spatula, gently fold the powdered sugar in until incorporated.
- Scoop the meringue into a piping bag. You’ll need to pipe a base and a spiked top. Pipe flat rectangular discs of meringue. Sprinkle with some almond slices, and pipe on top of the almonds. For the base, spreading a thin layer of meringue on top will do. For the top, make sure you pipe taller columns.
- Bake at 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahreheit) for about 2 hours. I recommend checking at 1 hr 30 min and then at 10 min intervals after.
- Transfer to a cookie rack after it has cooled.
Caramel Epice Base
- Melt sugar in a pot until it caramelizes into a nice brown color. Be careful not to mix.
- Scrape the vanilla seeds out and boil both the seeds and pod with the cream and spices. Take the pod out after mixture has boiled.
- Slowly pour the cream into the caramelized sugar while whisking. The mixture may spit, so be careful.
- Add the butter and whisk until the mixture is consistent. Transfer to another bowl to cool off mixture.
- Put whole milk, half of the sugar, and a split vanilla bean into a pan and heat. In another bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks and add in the rest of the sugar.
- Add in the pre-sifted cake flour/cornstarch to the egg yolks and gently mix. Over-whisking will form gluten.
- Boil the milk, and take away the vanilla pod.
- While whisking the egg yolks quickly, pour in 75% of the boiling milk. Return the mixture to the pot and heat on medium fire. Whisk continually until the cream thickens.
- Transfer finished cream to another bowl at once and let it cool.
- Mix together the caramel epice base and crème pâtissière with a spatula until incorporated. Refrigerate for at least an hour for it to firm.
- Pipe a thin layer of chantilly cream on the meringue base layer.
- With a star tip, generously pipe the caramel cream on top. Put the top spiky meringue on top of the caramel cream.
- Decorate with roasted nuts and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Be sure to enjoy quickly, as the meringue will tend to soak up the moisture from the cream and become soggy if not eaten soon.