- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tablespoon hot water
- ¾ cup hazelnut meal/flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill, or you can also pulse whole hazelnuts in a food processor to make your own.)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 4 large egg whites
- 1½ cups confectioners’ Sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder mixed with 2 tablespoons water
- 4 large egg yolks
- ½ pound white chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ pound bittersweet dark chocolate, finely chopped
To match the Mexican theme, I wanted a Mexican-inspired dessert to go with the enchiladas. I found the perfect recipe in Food & Wine Magazine — a dessert contributed by a Mexican chef who had a fond memory of a sweet he got from street vendors when he was a child. This is no street food — I definitely call it fancy! This recipe is perfect for that special Valentine’s Day dessert for that certain someone. It is not difficult, just a few steps that are easy to split up over a few days.
• Preheat oven to 250° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan, draw a circle in the center of each sheet of parchment.
• In a small bowl, combine the coffee extract and water. In another small bowl, whisk the hazelnut meal with the cornstarch and cinnamon. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, or with a portable mixer, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar and beat at high speed until the whites are stiff, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently fold in the hazelnut mixture, then the coffee extract.
• Scrape half of the meringue into the center of each traced circle; using an offset spatula, spread in an even layer, leaving a ½-inch border inside the circle. Bake the meringues in the lower and upper thirds of the oven for about 1 hour, until lightly browned and crisp; shift the sheets halfway through baking. Transfer to racks to cool.
• Meanwhile, make the filling: In a double boiler (or a large heatproof bowl set over a medium saucepan of simmering water), heat ½ cup of the cream with the coffee extract until hot. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Very slowly whisk the hot cream mixture into the yolks, then add the mixture to the large bowl and cook over the simmering water, stirring constantly, until the custard is hot and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in both chocolates and a generous pinch of salt and let stand about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir gently until smooth. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
• In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1½ cups of cream until stiff peaks form. Using a spatula, very gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate custard until no streaks remain. Refrigerate until just chilled, 30 minutes.
• Trim the meringues to fit into a 9-inch springform pan. Set 1 meringue in the pan. Spread the mousse over the meringue in an even layer and top with the remaining meringue. Refrigerate the cake for at least 6 hours or overnight. Unmold the cake and dust with cocoa powder or confectioners’ sugar. Cut the cake into wedges with a hot knife and serve.
• The cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.