Alison Alexandra is back for her second trip on The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express – and why not? The first led to a supper with three sisters/widows (none of them wearing black) that is as memorable as any Alison Alexandra has had. And that’s saying a lot.
But on this trip, Alison Alexandra dines alone, and piques the interest of the chef. And there is no better sweet talk, than with a sweet dessert.
So, I went in search of a decadent dessert, looking as gorgeous as I am sure it tastes. And up I end with a Fragilité Cake, which I would appreciate having delivered to my door after the sun has set, whether I was on the The Venice-Simplon-Orient-Express or not. And, I would not automatically be predisposed to ignore any other intentions in the eye of the beholder.
Just be sure to bring a fork.
The classic fragilité cake with coffee buttercream originates from the same Danish pastry chef, Johannes Steen, who also made The Sarah Bernhardt cookie. And must originate from the beginning of the 1900s, when Denmark was very influenced by everything French.
Fragilité means fragile, and it describes the cake well. It’s made with delicate layers of crispy meringue with hazelnuts, layered with a mocha/coffee buttercream. The cake feels very light and fluffy, but don’t let it fool you, it’s filled with great tasting calories
- 100 g hazelnuts
- 200 g confectionary sugar
- 4 egg whites
- 3 pasteurised egg yolks
- 100 g confectionary sugar
- 150 g butter, salted and room temperature
- 3 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1,5 teaspoons instant coffee
Preheat the oven for 400℉ (200℃).
Chop the hazelnuts. I used the mini chopper that came with my immersion blender, and ended up with a coarse hazelnut flour. Mix the hazelnuts with half of the confectionary sugar.
Whip the egg whites, in a stand mixer, until you have soft peaks. Add the sugar and keep whipping until you have a shiny meringue with stiff peaks. You should be able to turn the bowl upside down.
Fold the hazelnut mixture in.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper, spray it and sprinkle with sugar. I used a 9″ x 13″ (20×30 cm) pan.
Spread the meringue evenly in the pan, and level of the top.
Bake the meringue for 2 minutes at 400℉ (200℃), then lower the temperature to 305℉ (150℃) and keep on baking foe another 40 minutes.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, and whip the buttercream until thick and fluffy over a double boiler. I used a saucepan with very hot water, and placed my bowl on top of that. I didn’t have it on the stove. It takes some time to get the buttercream nice and fluffy.
Cut the meringue in two, and place the one part on a cake stand, spread all the buttercream on it in an even layer. Put the other half of the meringue on top.
Decorate the cake with some melted chocolate or a sprinkle of confectionary sugar.
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