Layers of hazelnut-almond meringues, spread thick with coffee buttercream and chocolate ganache form this classic airy, decadent torte. Andrew Shotts, former pastry chef for the now closed La Cote Basque's, helped us adapt this recipe.
Yield: serves 8
For the Hazelnut-Almond Meringues
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>3</sub> cups finely ground hazelnuts
- 1 <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>4</sub> cups finely ground almonds
- 9 egg whites, at room temperature
- <sup>1</sup>⁄<sub>2</sub> cup granulated sugar
For the Ganache and Coffee Buttercream
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
- 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 5 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 lb. unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
- 3 tbsp. coffe extract
- 2 cups slices almonds, toasted
- For the ganache: Heat cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, add milk and bittersweet chocolates, and let sit for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth and set aside until thick enough to spread.
- For the buttercream: Combine 1⁄3 cup water and 1 1⁄2 cups of the sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it reaches 250° on a candy thermometer. Put egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on medium-low speed for 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and whisk whites to soft peaks, about 1 1⁄2 minutes. Gradually add remaining 1⁄2 cup sugar while continuing to whisk, then increase speed to medium-high and whisk until whites form stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Carefully pour syrup into whites, whisking until cool, about 10 minutes. Add butter, bit by bit, whisking constantly until buttercream is shiny and fluffy, about 8 minutes. (Mixture may curdle, but will eventually come together.) Whisk in coffee extract and set aside.
- To assemble: Spread 1⁄3 of buttercream over each of 2 meringues. Spread ganache over remaining meringue. Layer meringues, placing the one with ganache in the middle. Spread remaining buttercream on sides of cake, then cover cake with almonds and refrigerate at least 5 hours. Before serving, dust cake with powdered sugar, if you like.
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