Gateau Noisette

Layers of meringue sandwiched together with a rich chocolate buttercream and covered with hazelnuts, Gateau Noisette (ga-toh nwah-zeht) is a superb dessert for a dinner party.

6 egg whites

12 oz. castor sugar

2 egg whites

4 oz. icing sugar

8 oz. unsalted butter

4 oz. dark cooking chocolate

1 teaspoon lemon juice

5 oz. chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to cool 300°F (Gas Mark 2, 150°C). Line two large baking sheets with non-stick silicone paper.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites with a wire whisk or rotary beater until they are light and frothy. Beat in 2 ounces of the sugar and continue beating until the whites will form stiff peaks. With a metal spoon, carefully fold in the remaining sugar.

Spread the mixture into four circles, each about –inch thick, two on each of the prepared baking sheets.

Place the baking sheets in the oven and bake for about 1 hour. Turn the meringue circles over and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove the meringue circles from the oven and leave them to cool.

Meanwhile prepare the filling. In a medium-sized mixing bowl set over a pan of simmering water, beat the egg whites with the icing sugar until the mixture is thick. Remove the bowl from the heat.

In a second mixing bowl, cream the butter with a. wooden spoon until it is light and fluffy.

Gradually beat the egg white mixture into the butter.

In a small heavy-based saucepan, melt the chocolate over low heat. As soon as the chocolate has melted, remove the pan from the heat.

Beat the melted chocolate into the egg white and butter mixture. Then beat in the lemon juice and half of the hazelnuts, beating until the mixture is well blended.

Carefully remove the meringue circles from the baking sheets.

Sandwich the circles together with the chocolate filling, covering the top of the gateau as well.

Cover the top of the cake with the remaining hazelnuts. Leave the cake in a cool place for about a day before serving.