Nougatine Cakes

Rich little Genoise sponge cakes layered with praline cream and iced with chocolate fondant, Nougatine (noo-gah-teen)

Cakes delicious served with afternoon tea or coffee.

4 oz. plus

1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted

4 oz. plus

2 tablespoons flour

5 oz. castor sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

½ teaspoon vanilla essence

4 oz. castor sugar

4 oz. flaked blanched almonds, lightly toasted

4 oz. unsalted butter, softened

4 oz. icing sugar , sifted

2 fl. oz. double cream , stiffly whipped

4 oz. dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

12 oz. Fondant, softened, diluted with

6 tablespoons of sugar syrup and kept hot

8 blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 375CF (Gas Mark 5, 190°C).

With the teaspoon of butter, grease an 8- x 10-inch cake tin. Sprinkle in 2 table-spoons of the flour. Tip and rotate the tin to distribute the flour evenly, shaking out any excess. Set the tin aside.

Place the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence in a medium-sized heatproof mixing bowl. Place the bowl in a pan half filled with hot water and set the pan over low heat. Beat the mixture with a wire whisk or rotary beater until it is pale and frothy and thick enough to make a ribbon trail on itself when the whisk is lifted.

Remove the pan from the heat. Lift the bowl from the pan. Sift in the remaining flour and fold it in gently with a metal spoon. Gradually pour in the remaining melted butter, stirring constantly.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin, smoothing it down with a flat-bladed knife. Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake the cake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the centre springs back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.

Remove the tin from the oven and let the cake cool in the tin for 30 minutes. With a sharp knife, cut the cake across into four pieces and cut the pieces in half to make eight cakes.

Transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Meanwhile, make the praline filling. In a small saucepan, melt the sugar over low heat, stirring occasionally. When the sugar has melted, increase the heat to moderately high and boil the syrup, without stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it is a rich golden brown colour. Do not allow the syrup to darken too much, or it will taste bitter. Add the almonds and stir to coat them thoroughly with the syrup.

Remove the pan from the heat and pour the mixture on to an oiled marble slab or hard, cold surface. Set the mixture aside to cool and harden completely. When it is cool, crush it to a fine powder with a rolling pin, or break it into pieces and pound it to a fine powder in a mortar with a pestle. Set aside.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat the butter, icing sugar and cream together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth. Beat in the crushed praline and blend it in thoroughly. Set aside.

To make the icing, in a small mixing bowl set over a pan half filled with boiling water, melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. When the chocolate has melted, beat in the fondant, a little at a time, beating until the mixture is well blended. Keep the mixture hot over the pan of water, stirring frequently.

With a sharp knife, slice one of the sponge cakes across into three layers. With

When the chocolate has melted the Slice each cake into three layers and fondant may be beaten in, with a spread a little of the praline cream wooden spoon, a little at a time.over the first two layers.

Spread the hot chocolate fondant icing over the top and sides of each cake to cover it completely. a flat-bladed knife, spread a little of the praline cream over the first two layers and sandwich them together. Place the third layer on top. Repeat the process with the remaining cakes, using up all the praline cream.

Using a flat-bladcd knife, quickly spread the hot chocolate fondant icing over the top and sides of the cakes to cover them completely. Place an almond half in the centre of each cake.

Place the cakes on a serving plate and leave them for 30 minutes before serving.

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