This cake holds a special place in my heart. I think it's because when I was a teenager, my friends and I would head on down to the local Just Desserts in the evening to grab a coffee and a slice of delectable cake. We'd sit there for hours just talking and laughing and enjoying each others company. One of my favourite cakes to order there was their caramel crunch cake. At the time I had NO idea what was in it. It was a strange and beautiful mystery to me and to be honest I hadn't thought about it much since then ... until now.
Last week was my birthday and I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to give this one a shot. I figured, it's my birthday, so if it didn't turn out well everyone would just humor me anyway. Luckily, that wasn't necessary :-) This cake was delicious! and pretty easy, I might add. However, it does take a long time to make because meringue just takes forever to bake. I would suggest making the meringue the night before, letting it cool in the oven overnight. In fact, you can make the caramel sauce the night before too.
- 300 gm egg whites (about 10 egg whites .. I used the egg whites from a carton)
- 1 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup ground pecans (you can use almost any nut, I think hazelnuts would be lovely too)
- small pinch of salt
- 2 cups cold whipping cream
- 1/3 cup icing sugar
- 1 pkt whipped cream stabilizer such as 'whip it' (optional)
Make about half a recipe of my Dulce De Leche Caramel Sauce.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees
Step 1: (Make the Meringue)
In the VERY CLEAN AND VERY DRY bowl of your stand mixer, add your egg whites. If there is any moisture at all in your bowl the whites will not whip up properly. Mix on medium speed until frothy.
Gradually add your white sugar and pinch of salt in with the frothy whites and beat on medium speed until the mixture is thick, glossy, and forms stiff peaks.
While that is whipping up, take out a large baking sheet (you may need more than one), parchment paper, and an 8" round cake pan. Using a pencil, trace the outline of your cake pan onto your parchment paper ... make 3. You should have parchment paper now with 3 circles drawn on it that are all the same size.
Once your egg white mixture is glossy and forms stiff peaks, gently fold in your ground nuts.
In using a large piping bag or a large zip lock bag, pipe the egg white mixture into the circles you've just drawn on the parchment paper. You can quickly use a spatula or off-set palette knife to smooth out the tops.
Place in the oven for a long time. This can take anywhere from 1-3 hours. Check on it every hour to see how it's doing. Once it's dry and slightly brown, turn the oven off but leave your meringues in there overnight to let them cool.
Step 7: (Make the Caramel Sauce)
Make your caramel sauce. Let it cool to room temperature.
When you're ready to assemble ..
Step 8: (Whip the Cream)
Put your cold cream in the bowl of your stand mixer and put it in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Cold cream whips up faster and better. Add your icing sugar and your stabilizer (if you're using it) and whip until stiff peaks form.
Step 9 : (Assemble)
Assembly is really easy. Place one of your meringue discs on a cake stand, plate, or cake board. Cover with 1/3 of the cream. Using a piping bag and a small round tip (or a squeeze bottle if you have one), drizzle your caramel sauce onto the cream (you can use as much or as little as you like). Repeat with the next meringue disc. When you get to the top, drizzle your sauce into a nice design.
And you're done! Keep this cake refrigerated or the cream will start to melt.