Chocolate meringue, chocolate mousse…this cake is an ode to chocolate at its best, richly flavoured yet airy. Created by one of France’s most famous pastry chefs, Gaston Lenôtre, this recipe had always seemed intimidating to me. It is not until now that I decided to give it a go and it was actually much simpler than I thought. The key is all in the (meringue) piping. I slightly twisted the original recipe to make little individual ‘Concordes’, as opposed to one big one, and only two layers of meringue rather than three. Little strips of meringue, known as doigts de fée (fairy fingers), decorate the Concorde.
To make 4 little Concordes, you need:
For the meringue layers and 'fairy fingers'
- Preheat your oven to 110°C.
- In a bowl, mix together the cocoa powder and icing sugar.
- Whisk the egg whites until you reach the 'firm peak' stage (turn your whisk upside down, and the egg white peaks should hold proudly). Add 20 g of caster sugar and continue whisking for 2 more minutes.
- Add the remaining 130 g of caster sugar while whisking continuously until firm. With a spatula, gently add the cocoa powder-icing sugar mix to the egg whites and fold in.
- Line two baking sheets with baking paper. With a piping bag fitted with either a 0.8 or 0.5 cm nozzle, draw 8 flat rounded meringues as if you were drawing a snail, starting from the centre. They should each have a 7 cm-diameter.
- Along the sides of the baking sheets, pipe long, narrow lines of meringue, the 'fairy fingers'.
- Bake for around 1 hour but check regularly to make sure the meringues do not brown. After 30 minutes, swap the baking sheets around to ensure similar baking between the two. After 50 minutes, the strips of meringue will likely be ready. If so, take them out and continue baking the flat meringues for another 10 minutes.
For the chocolate mousse
- Melt the chocolate using the bain-marie technique or in the microwave for 30 seconds.
- Remove from the heat and add the butter. Mix well. Add the egg yolks and mix again until well incorporated.
- Whisk the egg whites until firm while adding the 20 g of sugar.
- Once the chocolate mixture is cool, pour it onto the whisked egg whites and fold in gently. Let it set for at least 1 hour in the fridge.
To assemble the cakes
- Put 1 flat meringue on a plate and cover it with a layer of chocolate mousse. Put a second flat meringue on top and cover the whole cake with chocolate mousse.
- Cut 1 cm-sticks from the fairy fingers and place them all over the cake. Dust with icing sugar.
- Repeat the same steps for the other 3 Concordes. Leave to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
You can make the meringues several days in advance and keep them in an air-tight container.