Itook the kids to one of our favorite hangouts; Lake Anne. Going there is like a trip back in time. It is a very retro 1970′s village in the middle of Reston, VA. There are restaurants, an old-fashioned pharmacy with lunch counter (run by an El Salvadoran family who make the best Pupusas ever- I had the rubueltas, the kids, ice cream cones), a used book store, some thrift shops, a chocolate shop, coffee shop, and the best of all is the chlorinated fountain that children are allowed to play. When we go we usually hit the book shop first. I could spend hours in there but not this day, the kids were restless. But while I was in there I parked myself in the cookbook section. They have some treasures that’s for sure. I am a sucker for old cookbooks, especially any Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks before 1960. I have a few from the 50′s all on various topics: salads, kids food, quick dinners. On this day I was looking through a book on South American Cuisine that was full of so many pretty pictures, then low and behold, I saw it. This cake. I was in love. I am crazy for layered desserts. In the past I made a beautiful and delicious Mille Crêpes Cake which I posted about at attifood.com. When I saw this cake I knew that I must try it. Dulce de leche is layered between crispy cracker-like wafers then topped with Italian meringue. This cake is beautiful, very unique, and delicious.
This recipe is famous in Argentina so I had a bit of a time trying to figure a few things out. The recipe calls for 1/2 T. 96% alcohol. I did not know if that was a flavoring or an item that does something magical to the dough. The closest thing I had to that level of alcohol content was Rum 151. So I used that. After a bit of research I found a recipe that called for Sambuca. Darn, that would have been good, although my dough was very tasty indeed. All the measurements are in metric, the only thing I did translate for you is the temperatures. This recipe works well if you have a kitchen scale. If you want to be a good baker you should invest in a scale anyway. The picture in the book was a close up of the layers so I did not know how to frost the cake. I feel like I blew it in a way by frosting the sides because my research, done too late, showed cakes with the meringue only on top. Some Rogels were simply dusted with icing sugar. C’est la vie. Either way, this cake is very dressy and sophisticated. Oh, I also learned another name for dulce de leche, milk jam. Cute.
One can Dulce de leche
For Italian Meringue:
4 egg whites
6 T. water
1 t. vanilla
Place the all the ingredients for the dough in a food processor and pulse until the blade chases a ball of dough. There may be some crumbles that remain. Remove dough from processor and form into a large ball, kneading a couple of times to incorporate all the pieces. Divide into 8 smaller balls, about 45g each. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Now, roll out the balls into 6 inch circles that will be very thin. Poke with fork and place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350° for 7 minutes on each side or until disk is completely dry, do not over cook. Cool on racks.
To make the meringue, place the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and heat to 248° or until a thick clear syrup has formed. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and add the hot syrup while running the mixer on high. Add vanilla and continue beating until mixture cools, about 10 minutes. Assemble cake by gently spreading about 2 T. dulce de leche on 7 of the disks. Place a small amount of dulce de leche on your cake dish to “glue” the first disk. Stack the disks, dulce de leche side up ending with the plain disk. Pile the meringue on top of cake then work small amounts down the sides of cake sealing the disks. Decorate if desired. I simply used a single mint sprig. The cake will be 6 inches wide and 4 inches tall. The original recipe states that it feeds 4 but I say it serves 8, it is very rich.
Note- To cut this cake, take a pointed, sharp serrated knife and stab it through the center of the cake. Gently saw, holding the knife vertically toward the edge of the cake. Be sure you have cut the final layer before removing the slice.
In Remembrance of Leanne Sasso Lusso
2/26/71 – 7/17/06
Miss you cousin.