Best Christmas Day Pudding: Mighty Ferrero Rocher Showstopper Cake Crumbs and Mats

HOMEWORK

FOR THE HAZELNUT BUTTER

Spread the nuts out on one or two baking sheets and toast them in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes, then remove them.

You’ll want to remove as much of the skin as you can before putting them in the blender. The best way to do this is to dump the hot walnuts into the middle of a clean kitchen towel, bring the corners together to create a little bag, and then use your other hand to rub and squash the walnuts together. The skins will flake off the nuts and prevent the nut butter from taking on its bitter taste.

Allow the nuts to cool so they are slightly warm, then place them in a food processor and puree for 10 to 15 minutes. The change that walnuts undergo is really interesting. It all starts out really dry, then lumpy and crumbly, then as more oils are released it almost liquifies, turning into a smooth, sometimes runny paste that you can use wherever a recipe calls for butter or nut paste.

Add salt or even sugar if you like, for seasoning. Nut butter will keep for up to 4 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, or up to 1 week at room temperature.

FOR THE HAZELNUT BUTTER CREAM

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a medium bowl, cream the butter and salt on high speed for at least 5 minutes until the butter has turned a very pale yellow color and the texture is smooth. and creamy.

Add half of the icing sugar and mix on low speed to prevent any sugar droplets from jumping out of the bowl, then beat vigorously for a few minutes before repeating with the remaining icing sugar. Beat until pale, almost white, and fluffy. You’re looking for a smooth, whipped buttercream that has a spreadable consistency and holds its shape.

FOR THE MERINGUE POOPS

I’m afraid you’re going to read a lot about poop in this recipe. We’ve always called meringue kisses ‘poop’ in C&D and it’s one of those labels that has stuck, so apologies in advance if you don’t like the whole ‘poop’ thing!

This is a really easy recipe that results in crunchy, slightly chewy meringues that you can use in many ways. Beating egg whites can take up to 15 minutes or more, so having a stand mixer will make your life so much easier.

You’ll always want twice the weight of sugar in egg whites, so the recipe below is just a guide, based on 2 large egg whites.

Preheat your oven to 120°C (100°C fan) and line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. First, make sure all your equipment is clean and free of grease by rubbing it all down with a little vinegar or lemon juice. Fat is the killer of fluffy, bulky meringues.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk attachment or a mixing bowl. Have it mix on medium-low speed. Once large bubbles start to form, you can add the cream of tartar and turn the mixer speed up to medium-high.

Within a couple of minutes, the bubbles should be much smaller and more compact, and if you were to take out the whisk, the peaks would be soft and a bit limp. Keep the mixer running at the same speed and start adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time.

When all the sugar has been added, keep beating until you can no longer feel the sugar grains when you rub some of the mixture between your thumb and forefinger. This can take 10-15 minutes, sometimes longer if you’re making a large batch. Towards the end, add the salt and vanilla and beat to combine.

When you have a grain-free, glossy white meringue mix, dab a few drops under each corner of the parchment paper to prevent it from churning in the oven and ruining the shape of your meringues.

After the cooking time has elapsed, turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool in the oven.

METHOD

Make the hazelnut butter, hazelnut buttercream and meringue poops, and set aside.

FOR THE CHOCOLATE SPONGE

Preheat oven to 350°F (170°C fan) and grease four 8-inch round sandwich pans.

In a bowl, mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, cooled coffee, buttermilk, and oil until well combined. Add the dry ingredients to the bowl of wet ingredients and mix to combine completely.

Divide the batter between two of the prepared pans and bake for 24 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes before removing from tins and allowing to cool completely.

FOR THE HAZELNUT SPONGE

Meanwhile, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a bowl, beat the sugar, butter, oil, and salt on medium speed for a couple of minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift the flour directly into the bowl and begin folding on the lowest speed of the stand mixer or with a large metal spoon or spatula. When there is still a bit of flour to incorporate, add the milk and hazelnut butter and mix gently to combine.

Divide the batter between the two remaining tins, leveling the top with a spatula.

Bake for 22–24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes before removing from tins and allowing to cool completely.

TO DECORATE THE MERENGUE POOPS

Melt the chocolate chips. Prepare a wide, shallow bowl of chopped hazelnuts. Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper.

Dip each meringue into the melted chocolate so that it reaches about a third of the way up the sides. Remove the chocolate from the bottoms by rubbing it on the rim of the bowl. Top the chocolate covered sides of the poops with chopped hazelnuts. Try to avoid getting the nuts on the bottom of the poops, so they can sit level on top of the cake. Let rest on the baking tray. Reserve the remaining hazelnuts to decorate.

For an extra touch, drizzle or dot the poop with some edible gold glitter.

FOR THE BUTTER GANACHE

Melt the chocolate and butter in a small bowl, either in a double boiler or in the microwave in 15-second bursts, stirring in between. Remove from heat and pour in cream, stirring with a spatula until combined. Let cool to room temperature stirring every 10 minutes until it has a spreadable consistency. It is now ready to be spread all over the cake. You can also use it to coat the cake with crumbs first, for maximum smoothness.

TO END

Start by making the butter ganache frosting as above, to give it time to develop into a spreadable consistency.

Level and trim the sponges and use a cake leveler, or long serrated bread knife, to divide each layer in half so you have 8 thin layers total. These will be fragile so please handle them with great care. Stick a brownie layer on a cake board or large flat plate with a small blob of buttercream. Top with a generous even layer of hazelnut buttercream and sprinkle with some of the chopped hazelnuts.

Next, place a layer of hazelnut sponge on top and apply a thick layer of hazelnut buttercream. Using a spatula, scrape out some of the buttercream to create a shallow indentation in the middle, about 1 inch/2.5cm from the edge, then fill the space with Nutella (warming it up a bit makes it easier to spread).

Repeat the previous two steps, alternating the biscuits and fillings as you build the pie. To see how we do it, go to the QR codes on page 210. Finish with the final coat face down for a neat top, then chill for 20 minutes.

Clean the cooled cake by cutting away any lumps and bumps around the edges with a serrated knife. Use buttery ganache to coat cutout cake with crumbs (see page 210), then chill cake again for at least 30 minutes, or until ganache has set.

Give the chilled cake a final top layer of buttery ganache and use a spatula to add a bit of texture to the sides. Using your hands, scoop up the remaining chopped hazelnuts and gently press them into the sides around the bottom half of the cake to create a band of walnut tips.

FOR THE DRIP GANACHE

Place the chocolate in a heatproof container. In a small saucepan, heat the cream over medium-low heat until smoking but not simmering, then pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand without stirring for about 1 minute. After this time, the cream will have melted the chocolate and you can blend them together to form a silky smooth ganache.

Once cooled, transfer to a piping bag. Pipe a drip around the edges. Fill the center with the remaining ganache and spread it over the top of the cake with a spatula. Chill for 15 minutes until set.

Pipe the remaining buttercream into a large piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe rosettes around the top of the cake, spaced about 1⁄2 inch/1 cm apart.

Place the jazzy meringue poops on top of each rosette, pressing down a bit, to complete the cake!

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