My Mother’s Russian Cake

Well, as my dear mother used to say, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang aglay’. (No, that isn’t Yiddish. I think it may be Welsh which is unusual because my Mom was Canadian born of Polish parents. But she was well read and I recall many of her sayings and quotes and find them coming out of my mouth even before I am aware of it.) I had hoped to get this recipe out to you last week, but found myself unable. Just as well, you’ve probably got more than enough on your plate and need another recipe like you need a ‘loch in kopf’ (that is Yiddish for a hole in the head).

Although you may not have enough time to work this special dessert into your pre Pesach cooking plans-which I’m sure are pretty much underway, try and practice this delicious gateaux a few times through the upcoming year. When next Pesach roles around, you will be able to make it with confidence.

Wishing you a kosher, joyful and healthy Pesach,

Nancy Weisbrod, Director of Culinary Education, Kashruth Council of Canada

PS Although this recipe is adapted from one by Kitty Morse and Danielle Mamane, my own Mother used to make one very similar.

My Mother’s Russian Cake

6 egg whites
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups superfine sugar (grind the sugar in a food processor)

1 ¼ cups ground hazelnuts, toasted
3 Tablespoons superfine sugar
7 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 teaspoon instant coffee dissolved in ¼ cup water
3 cups pareve whipping cream
Preheat oven to 300. Grease 3 x 8” molds. Cut 3 rounds of parchment paper to line the bottom of each.
To prepare the meringue, in a large bowl beat the egg whites with the salt. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Divide the egg whites among the three molds and smooth the tops with a spatula. Place in the oven and decrease the heat to 275. Bake until the meringues are dry, about 1 hour, and let them dry further in the turned-off oven overnight.
Blend the hazelnuts and 1 Tablespoon of the remaining sugar.
Melt the chocolate, coffee and remaining 2 Tablespoons sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Let it cool slightly. Whip the cream. Gently fold in the melted chocolate and half of the ground nuts.
To assemble the cake, peel the paper from the bottom of the meringue. Set one round on a serving platter. With a spatula, spread 1/3 of the ganache over the top. Cover with a second round and repeat. Top with the third round and spread with the remaining ganache, spreading it over and around the sides of the cake. Pat the remaining nuts around the side of the cake and refrigerate.


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