PISTACHIO MERINGUE CAKE WITH CANDIED CUMQUATS & CARAMEL SAUCE
This nutty cake recipe is versatile and adaptable and pairs perfectly with candied cumquats. Pistachios add a delicious flavour, however they can be substituted with hazelnuts or walnuts if preferred.
This recipe features a cardamom-flavoured salted caramel sauce or you can omit the cardamom for a classic salted caramel sauce instead.
Cardamom caramel sauce:
Cardamom Caramel Sauce:
- In a small saucepan, combine the cream and cardamom over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Turn off the heat and let the cardamom steep on the burner while you cook the sugar.
- Place the sugar, hot water, and salt in a heavy saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
- Pour in both the water and the sugar carefully, keeping the sugar from sticking to the sides of the saucepan.
- You will notice you have very little in the bottom of the pan, but you want to have plenty of room when you add the cream as the mixture will spit and bubble.
- Place the pan over low heat and stir the contents with a wooden spoon until the sugar is dissolved; try to dissolve the sugar before the mixture boils.
- Rinse your spoon well to remove any sugar crystals and don’t stir the mixture again until you add the cream.
- If there are any unmelted crystals, they can cause the caramel sauce to crystalize instead of remaining smooth.
- Cover the pan, turn the heat to medium, and cook for 5 minutes to help create condensation which will wash down sugar crystals from the sides of the saucepan.
- Uncover and continue to cook the sugar until it starts to take on some colour.
- At first it will be just a little blond or caramel coloured in certain spots.
- Keep cooking until the sugar starts to smoke a little and turns a deep mahogany brown.
- Remove the pan from the heat and pour in about ¼ cup of the hot cream, stirring with a long-handled wooden spoon. The caramel will bubble like crazy—don’t get burned!
- Keep stirring and slowly add the remaining cream.
- Continue stirring after all of the cream has been added, until the bubbling has calmed down.
- Strain the caramel sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a metal bowl, stirring occasionally as it cools.
- Taste for salt and adjust as necessary.
- The sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Note: Don’t worry about the smoke and dark colour; undercaramelization results in a flat, undeveloped taste.
For the cake:
- To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Brush an 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with the 1 tablespoon softened butter.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the 10 tablespoons of butter.
- Stir in the rum and vanilla and set aside to cool.
- Place 1 cup of the pistachios and ¾ cup of the sugar in a food processor and grind together until the pistachios are sandy, about 10 seconds.
- If there are too many big pieces of pistachio, they will deflate your cake, so grind for a few more seconds if necessary, but keep an eye on the nuts to ensure you don’t over process them.
- They should look powdery, not like they are about to form a paste.
- Add the flour and process for about 2 seconds to combine. Set aside.
- Spread the remaining ¼ cup pistachios on a small baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 3 to 4 minutes. Since pistachios already have a brown skin and crisp texture, it can be hard to tell when they’re toasted. If you are not sure, allow them to cool and then taste one. You’re looking for an only slightly toasted flavour and a remaining green interior.
- Roughly chop the pistachios and set aside.
- In a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium speed for about 1½ minutes. They will be slightly foamy. Add the remaining ½ cup sugar and the salt and whip on medium speed for 1 minute.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sugar from the sides of the bowl, then whip the egg whites on medium speed for 8 more minutes, until all of the granules of sugar and salt have dissolved and the egg whites are stiff and glossy.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold one-third of the pistachio mixture into the egg whites.
- Repeat with the remaining pistachio mixture in two batches, folding just until combined.
- Add the melted butter–rum mixture and again fold just until combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the cake pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan, feels springy to the touch, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
- Turn it out onto the rack and let cool completely.
- To assemble the dish, supreme the citrus fruits (see below instructions on how to “supreme” citrus fruits). Place the citrus segments in a strainer set over a small bowl.
- Cut the cake into 1-inch slices. Pour a small pool of caramel sauce on each plate, place a slice of cake overlapping the sauce, and arrange a mixture of the citrus segments alongside.
- Top with a dollop of whipped cream, a few wheels of candied kumquats and a sprinkling of toasted pistachios.
“Supreming” is a technique that removes the membrane from citrus fruit so it can be served in slices. While this is a little more time-consuming, the results—no rind, no pith, and no mess—are worth it.
To supreme a grapefruit, orange, lemon, or lime, follow the steps below.
- Slice the rind: With a very sharp knife, trim the ends of the fruit and set a flat side on a cutting board.
- Remove the pith: Slice off the peel and pith in sections, following the shape of the sphere.
- Slice the segments: Set the fruit on its side. Cut toward the centre, along a membrane. Then slice along the adjacent membrane until the cuts meet, releasing the segment. Transfer the segment to a bowl. Repeat.
- Squeeze the juice: Hold the membranes over the bowl and squeeze to juice.