Do you ever flip open a cookbook and vow to yourself that one day you're going to make a particular recipe that catches your eye? I did that about eight years ago when I first received Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess! The recipe for Gooey Chocolate Stack had me at the name and by the time I had seen the photo with its triple layers of chocolate meringue and creme patissiere I knew that one day I would have to make it. Well my friends that time has come and let me tell you it did not disappoint!
The beauty of this recipe is that it can be made in two parts. In fact, I made the three meringue layers late one evening after I had put the kids to bed and made the chocolate creme patissiere the next day.
Gooey Chocolate Stack (Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess)
For the meringue discs:
6 large egg white
300 grams Golden castor sugar (I used white granulated sugar)
3 tablespoon(s) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon(s) Red wine vinegar
For the creme patissiere:
6 large Egg yolks
100 grams Golden castor sugar (again, I used white granulated sugar)
2 tablespoon(s) cocoa powder
2 tablespoon(s) Plain flour
300 ml Full fat milk
300 ml double cream
100 grams dark chocolate melted
1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
20 grams Pistachio nuts chopped
Preheat the oven to 140ºC/280F
Line the baking sheets with parchment and draw a 20cm circle on each one.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add the sugar a spoonful at a time, beating in well after each addition. Go slowly here. Sprinkle over the cocoa and vinegar and then fold in gently but firmly.
Divide the dusky meringue between the 3 circles, spreading evenly.
Cook for 1 hour, then turn off the oven, leaving the meringues in until cool. And as long as you keep them airtight, with sheets of baking parchment in between, you can do these a good week or so in advance.
Now for the creme patissiere: beat the egg yolks and sugar together, then add the cocoa and flour, whisking well. Warm the milk and cream in a saucepan, then, whisking, pour this onto the eggs and sugar before pouring everything back into the saucepan on the heat and, stirring constantly, bring it to the boil. When the mixture has thickened, take it off the heat and stir in the melted chocolate and vanilla.
Let it cool now, but avoid putting it into the fridge as it will become too solid. You can stop it forming a skin either by covering with buttered baking parchment or greaseproof paper or by sieving a layer of icing sugar over.
To assemble the cake, place one of the meringue discs on a flat plate spread with a third of the chocolate cream, then carry on layering. Scatter over the chopped pistachios.
The end result as you can see is a rather scrumptious looking chocolate mass. It's sort of like eating sweet, chewy marshmallows dipped in rich dark chocolate pudding.
My one caveat is assemble this dessert right before you want to eat it since the creme patissiere eventually starts to weigh down the meringue crushing its delicate layers. Otherwise its relatively simple and definitely worth a try!