I dare you not to like this

Almond Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Hello? Is anybody there? It’s me – Merav. I know I haven’t been here for a while. I am trying to change that. With the backlog of food I have to blog about, it really shouldn’t be too difficult to start. So please have a little more patience – perhaps this chocolate covered gateau will keep your attention for a while longer?
Once again, the Daring Baker’s have dragged my ass out of seclusion and dirtied my kitchen with yet another multi-pot/utensil recipe. Not that I’m complaining – when the end result looks like this it somehow erases the memory of a sink full of dishes. This month’s challenge comes courtesy of Chris from Mele Cotte who chose a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from “Great Cakes” by Carol Walter. Upon first sight of the challenge, I was both excited about the decorating potential but also a little disappointed that in the height of summer (90+ degree days here) we would be creating an intensely rich cake and not utilising the bounty of fresh fruits available. I got over it pretty quickly though and eventually set out to make the cake.
We were permitted to replace Hazelnuts with any other nut if we preferred. Since my food processor died and I have yet to replace it, I knew there would be no way to grind the hazelnuts smooth enough by hand. I went ahead and used the pre-ground almond meal I had on hand. To be honest, almond is my favourite nut so I probably would have chosen it over hazelnut regardless of my food processor predicament. I also decided to halve the recipe and make mini-cakes, as I knew that one large layer cake would sit uneaten in my fridge for weeks. The recipe also called for a Swiss buttercream but I could just not be bothered this time to stand over a bain-marie whisking away in this heat. I decided to use a cream cheese based buttercream, which I also much prefer flavour-wise. I used sliced almonds in my praline. Once cooled, I broke it into pieces, smashed it up in a bag with a rolling pin as much as I could, and then ground it further in a mortar and pestle. This step was a royal pain! Obviously I couldn’t grind it enough to become a smooth paste but I mixed the powder into the buttercream with delicious results! For the soaking syrup, I used Amaretto liqueur which helped to bring out the delicate almond flavour. I stuck with the apricot glaze as I love apricots and believe they pair beautifully with almond. In the end, I omitted the whipped cream layer because I just felt it wasn’t necessary.

In conclusion – though this cake took 3 days to make – the results were divine! The cake was moist, delicate and had a slight chew to the texture thanks to the almonds. The buttercream had a hint of caramelly praline but wasn’t cloyingly sweet, in part thanks to me leaving out 3 cups of the sugar it asked for! All in all, I still think this cake is suited better to colder days and climates, but it was a joy to bake and those who ate it licked their plates! Check out all the other Daring Baker’s creations for more jaw dropping gorgeousness.

Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream – From Great Cakes by Carol Walter:
Click here to see the Original recipe


Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.

  • 1 cup ground almond meal
  • 1 tbs cornstarch
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¼
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp grated lemon rind
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/8 cup warm, melted butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with greased parchment paper.

Whisk together the almond meal and cornstarch. Set aside. Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add 1/4 cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside. Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another 30 seconds. Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute. Working quickly, sprinkle the nut meal in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 tbsp of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds. With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely. If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.

Sugar Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 tbs Amaretto or dark rum or any other flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. Can be made in advance.

Praline Paste:

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter. Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. Remember – extremely hot mixture. Then pour onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cool dry place. Do not refrigerate.

Praline Buttercream: adapted from Bon Apetit, June 2006

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Add the powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, beating well until smooth. Mix in 1/3 cup of the Praline paste.

Apricot Glaze:

  • 1/3 cup thick apricot preserves
  • 1/2 tbs water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.

Ganache Glaze:

  • 6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tbs Amaretto, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • ½ – 1 tsp hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur together and set aside. Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reaches a gentle boil. Immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ – 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!

Assembling Cake:

Divide the cake into 2 layers and cut out as many circles as possible using a round cookie cutter. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layers with the warm sugar syrup. Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the buttercream. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spread with buttercream. Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache. Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing. To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream and or ganache. Decorate as you please. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving. Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.


10 thoughts on “I dare you not to like this

  1. Your cakes look lovely. The sides of the mini cakes are so smooth. I could not get mine to be like that. How did you do it?

  2. Your mini cakes look fab! Don’t worry, even with a processor, my nuts never turned into paste! What a job!

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