I can't believe how long those little apricots had survived in my fridge. I had not planned on actually cooking with them because of me being on the diet, but then I stumbled upon the idea of giving it away. Groundbreaking- I know. I really don't know why I hadn't thought about this sooner! I searched endlessly for tempting apricot recipes, but nothing really caught my eye. It all seemed so familiar. Then, as I was watching recorded shows on my DVR I came across Laura Calder, from the Cooking Channel, who hosts French Food at Home. I must admit that when I first saw this show I wasn't sure I liked it. She was no Julia Child. That is true, but I have definitely made up my mind about her. I love the show- so much so, that I have every single episode recorded on my DVR. So, she has this amazing recipe for an Almond Meringue Cake with Peaches. I really wanted to try this recipe and I figured I'd just switch out the peaches for apricots.
There are many reasons why I first thought this dessert might be a little tough, but the main thing was that it was a meringue. As I have mentioned before I have such bad luck with meringues.. or rather any recipe that needs a meringue. I am not one of the lucky few that was able to master the macaron on the first try- not even the 6 th, 7 th, or 8 th try! I finally was able to master it on the 9 th attempt, but it left me traumatized. They are just too tricky and even after making a few good batches, the French method was not reliable for me. So, my husband was nice enough to surprize me with a macaron course in Toulouse for Christmas last year. There I learned the Italian method, using heated sugar to cook the whites and make them more stable and I'd say 100% fool - proof. I thought, yay! I have mastered the meringues. Then, I came across this wonderful and tempting recipe that closely resembles the French method/macaron recipe. *GASP*
In the end, it all turned out okay and I was so proud of myself. The cake was beautiful after it was assembled and a tear silently rolled down my cheek as I handed over the cake plate to my sister for her enjoyment. OK, OK, I can't lie! I snuck a piece... and maybe a little more. I had to in order to give a proper review! And it was delicious- everything I had imagined it to be.
Almond Meringue Cake with Apricots
adapted from Laura Calder
- 4 oz ground almonds
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup + 3 tbsp sugar
- 4 eggs (separated)
- 2 sticks of butter (softened)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup of almonds (sliced or slivered)
- 5-6 apricots
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup of sugar. In a separate bowl, beat the whites to soft peaks, and then beat in 2 tbsp of sugar to make a stiff meringue. Fold in the almond mixture in 3 batches to combine thoroughly. Using a piping bag with a large tip, pipe the meringue onto the circles on the parchment. Bake until crisp and dry, about 1 1/2 hours.
To make the buttercream: Heat the remaining sugar with 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons water to dissolve, then boil to soft-ball stage, which is just before the syrup changes color (235 to 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Beat the egg yolks in a stand-up mixer, then, with the beaters running, quickly add the hot syrup in a thin stream. Continue beating until the mixture is cool and forms and thick mousse, about 5 minutes. Beat in the butter, gradually, and finally add the vanilla.
To assemble the cake: Set a round of meringue on a serving plate. Spread over a quarter of the buttercream. Lay in a layer of sliced peaches. Spread the top layer with buttercream and set it on top of the first. Spread the remaining butter cream over the sides of the cake. Press the toasted almonds all around the sides. Arrange another layer of peach slices on top.