One of my absolute favorite things about being an expat in Africa is the melding of cultures that happens. There’s the culture of the country where we are, and then you add in people from all over the world, and you get to experience traditions and celebrations from a wide variety of cultures in a new and special way. One way that I particularly experienced this last year was during Easter/Passover season.
As a Christian, and as I mentioned in my last post, Easter is one of my favorite holidays. But I had never gotten the opportunity to observe Passover, until last year. I ended up having three celebrations last year – a dinner to observe the first night of Passover, a brunch for Easter, and then on Easter Sunday a Passover/Easter/Greek Orthodox celebration, which was basically epic. My contribution to the two Easter celebrations were these eggs, carrot cake, and then I made for Passover this easy and delicious flourless cake.
I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to celebrate Passover, and it was even more special because my friend had us celebrate it with the same Haggadah that her family always used, which included a song where we all made animal noises (not sure how traditional that was!) 😉 and also searching for the afikoman.
With the second Passover/Easter/melding of traditions, held in my apartment, we smashed hard boiled eggs per Greek Orthodox tradition, and I had to ask a colleague nicely not to hide the afikomen in my toilet, which is something I thought I would never have to tell someone….. 🙂
So whichever celebration you observe, you should definitely try this cake! It’s very light and airy, thanks to the meringue, and basically delicious. Happy Easter/Passover/holiday celebrations, and enjoy!
Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake
Recipe from Johnny Iuzzini’s Sugar Rush cookbook
Makes one 9 inch cake
6 tablespoons (84 g) unsalted butter, plus additional for the pan
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (72% cacao), chopped
7 large egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Cocoa powder, for dusting
Turbinado sugar, for the pan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit / 180 degrees celsius. Grease a 9-inch pan with butter (preferably a springform pan, but a regular cake pan will work as well), and then dust with cocoa powder. I also sprinkled some turbinado sugar into the pan, to give the cake a slightly crunchy texture on the edges, but this is optional.
Fill a medium saucepan 1/3 full of water, and bring to a boil. Put the chocolate and 6 tablespoons of butter in a large heatproof bowl and set it over the water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Turn off the heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, until the butter and chocolate are melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Put the egg whites and cream of tartar into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and turn the mixer on to medium-low speed. Slowly sprinkle about a third of the 1/3 cup of sugar into the whites and whip until the mixture is foamy. With the motor running, gradually drizzle in another third of the sugar in the measuring cup. Increase the speed to medium, and when the whites have soft peaks, sprinkle in the remaining sugar and whip until soft, glossy peaks form.
Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, whisk the eggs yolks, the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, and the salt together until pale and thick. Fold the cooled chocolate into the yolk mixture until combined. Add about 1 cup of the whites and fold gently until just combined. Add the remaining whites and fold gently until no streaks of whites remain. Take care not to break the meringue, so make sure to be gentle in this step! Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread the batter evenly with a spatula, smoothing out the top.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until set and a tester inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before removing the springform ring, or removing from the cake pan if not using a springform. For decoration, dust with cocoa powder using a sifter or sieve. The cake can be served slightly warm or at room temperature.