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Sunday, May 25, 2014

caramel macadamia carousel.

Ever since I started baking six years ago, I've gone through many crazes - bread, cookie, cake - and have consequently amassed a considerable number of cookbooks. Thank goodness libraries exist or my house would become one itself.

I have a cookbook to turn to for almost every mood I'm in; when I feel like making something relatively simple I can always rely on one of my Baked books to give me a suitable recipe, when I feel making something challenging I turn to this book called Bake It Like You Mean It, and I think the title explains why. Unfortunately this book has been sorely underutilised ever since it was bought because of my busy schedule these days and I am rarely able to gather more than enough energy to make pancakes, which, I must emphasise, doesn't even engage the use of the oven and therefore cannot count as baking. However, I flipped open the book once again this week - the time spent away from intensive baking must have been long enough for me to naturally feel like taking on a project again.

The last time I used this book was to make its Mocha Ricotta Tower recipe, some 8 months ago or so. Today, I picked this caramel macadamia carousel cake to bake. The recipe was laborious to type out but the baking process was ten times more so. It consists of a disk of meringue to serve as the base of the cake, chocolate sponge cake that functions as the walls enclosing the buttery caramel cream, ganache to cover up all the imperfections and act as glue to adhere all the components together and finally a crown of nutty, buttery, caramelly macadamia florentine to top it all off. I had to divide the work across three days. School days, of course. I bet it could actually be finished in two days if you're on a roll.

I made a fraction of the recipe for a 7 inch cake and created only two circles of chocolate sponge, hence the cake you see here looks slightly different from the picture in the book if you have seen it. I'm not sure if my adjustment of the quantities has resulted in a sponge thicker than it was supposed to be but I found it slightly dry. Perhaps brushing the sponge with some syrup, which the recipe didn't call for, would be good. Apart from this issue I think this recipe is worth a try especially for its visual appeal. It also satisfies those who like crunch in their cake - the meringue and the florentine provide plenty of that.

Thankfully after making this cake I don't feel like I would abandon all thought of using recipes from this book in the near future. In fact I think another cake is in my plans for the coming week. I hope that you would make this cake a part of your plans too.

Caramel Macadamia Carousel
makes a 10 inch cake
adapted from Bake It Like You Mean It

For the meringue bottom:
2 ounces blanched slivered almonds
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 cup egg whites
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Draw a 10 inch circle on the parchment and flip it over onto the pan so that the circle is visible but will not transfer onto the meringue.

Combine the almonds, a third of the sugar and cornstarch into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is fine.

Whisk the egg whites and salt until foamy. Slowly add in the remaining sugar while whisking constantly until stiff peaks form. Fold the almond mixture into the egg whites until combined.

Transfer batter into a large pastry bag with a large open round tip. Pipe mixture onto the parchment in a spiral starting from the centre of the circle.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool completely.

For the sponge cake:
7 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup cake flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 400F. Line the bottom of a 10 inch cake pan and a half sheet pan with parchment paper. Do not grease them.

In a heatproof bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, sugar and salt. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Transfer bowl to the stand mixer and whisk on high speed until the eggs have quadrupled in volume and bowl is cool to touch.

Sift the flour, cornstarch and cocoa powder over the egg mixture. Fold the flour mixture into the eggs.

Spread one-third of the batter into the cake pan and the remaining into the half sheet pan. Bake the cakes for 15 to 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool completely.

For the caramel cream:
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice (I omitted)
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups heavy cream

Combine the sugar, 1/4 cup of water, lemon juice and salt in a large saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has completely melted. Stop stirring, raise the heat to medium high and cook the syrup until it turns a light amber. Remove the pan from heat and add 1/2 cup of the cream and stir until smooth. Refrigerate until cool.

Whip the remaining cream to stiff peaks. Fold one-third of the cream into the caramel to lighten it. Transfer the caramel mixture into the bowl with the remaining cream and gently fold until evenly incorporated. Refrigerate until needed.

For the ganache:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp butter

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.

Combine the cream and butter in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and allow the mixture to stand for a few minutes before whisking till smooth.

For the macadamia florentine:
1/2 cup butter, browned and set aside to cool
1 cup finely chopped macadamia nuts
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 10 inch cake ring with nonstick baking spray and place it on a parchment-lined half sheet pan.

Combine the macadamia nuts, brown sugar, egg, vanilla bean paste and salt and pulse until a slightly chunky paste forms. Still pulsing, pour in the butter until combined.

Spread the batter evenly inside the cake ring and bake until just golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove the cake ring and score the florentine into 12 even wedges while still warm.

Assemble the cake:
Spread one-third of the ganache evenly over the meringue layer. Chill the remaining ganache.

Place a 10 inch cake ring atop the meringue layer. Cut the cake in the sheet pan lengthwise into strips 2 inches wide. Line the inside of the cake ring by pressing a cake strip around the outer edge. You may need to use more than once strip to go all the way around, trimming the strips as necessary to fit.

Make four more concentric rings of cake strips, starting slightly in from the outside ring and working your way towards the centre. Leave enough space between rings for the filling to be piped.

Transfer the caramel cream to a large pastry bag fitted with a large open tip. Pipe the cream in between the standing cake rings. Spread any extra cream on the top in an even layer.

Place the round sponge layer atop the cream and press gently to adhere. Refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours.

Warm the reserved ganache until spreadable consistency.

Remove the cake ring by gently heating it with a blow dryer or letting it remain at room temperature for about half an hour. Trim the excess meringue layer such that it is flush with the cake layers.

Frost the entire cake with ganache (but leave some for the florentine). Allow to set for about 20 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of the remaining ganache over the scored florentine. Place it on top of the cake.

To slice, use the lines on the florentine as a guide. You should be able to cut through both the florentine and cake in one stroke with a serrated knife if you'd scored the florentine deeply enough. If you're worried that the florentine might be too hard, slice it into wedges and arrange them on top of the cake in a circle instead.



  1. Sometimes it is just worth the time to make something really wonderful. This cake sounds like like of them. It looks divine. I am putting it in my wish list of things to make.

  2. Wow. That is one tasty-looking carousel. :) Bake it like you mean it sounds like a great cookbook, I'll have to check it out, since I love making fancy desserts once in a while.

  3. That looks AMAZING! Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  4. Bake It Like You Mean It sounds like a great cookbook. I love making complicated desserts, so much more fun than pancakes. But yes, time is an issue! This looks lovely :)