A Good Looking Concord Cake {Guest Post}

Over the holidays, I was tasked with making a “good-looking dessert” for our NYE dinner celebration. Since I’m the go-to baker in my family, I knew I had to step up my game and impress the group. Full disclosure, I am nowhere up to Charlotte’s level of expertise. Note from Charlotte: this is nonsense.

When I found this Concord Cake recipe in Food & Wine I knew I had found the perfect good-looking dessert. The meringue logs piled on top of the cake make it different from any other cake I’ve had, and the combination of mousse and meringue made for a great pairing of textures. Who doesn’t love light and fluffy layered with something crunchy? Throw chocolate in the mix, and I am sold. After reading through the recipe and noticing this was a combination of two traditionally pretty finicky desserts to make, I really hoped I was up to the challenge!

Meringue and mousse both need to be thought out prior to starting, and putting the two together definitely is no exception to this rule. Make sure to read the entire recipe before starting and you’ll do just fine. Plus, I will say the final product is definitely worth the effort (and it’s gluten-free)!

A couple notes about this recipe.

  • I decided to skip tracing circles on the parchment paper as a piping guide for the meringues rounds. Once it came time to actually pipe said rounds, and I found myself eyeballing the two circles to try to get them to be the same size, I realized this was a serious mistake. Don’t skip this step! I also ended up making 3 of these circles for my cake because I had extra.
  • The meringues sticks will expand. When the recipe calls for you to leave an inch of space between them, heed their advice. Charlotte tried to cram too many sticks on each baking sheet and found herself with a giant blob of meringue. Nothing a sharp knife couldn’t fix but to make your life easier, listen to the recipe.

Ready to impress all your friends with a really really good-looking dessert? Time to make your own Concord Cake!

Mousse Ingredients

  • 10 ounces. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream, chilled

Mousse Recipe

  • Using a double-boiler, melt the chocolate with the butter, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from the heat and keep warm. Next, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and boil
  • over moderately high heat, without stirring, until the sugar syrup reaches 240° on a candy thermometer, about 7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gradually pour the hot syrup into the egg whites in a steady stream and beat at medium-high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 5 minutes. Using a large rubber spatula, fold in the melted chocolate until no streaks of white remain. Scrape the chocolate mixture into a large bowl and set aside.
  • Clean the stand mixer bowl and whisk and add in the vanilla extract and the heavy cream. Beat the cream at medium speed until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture until no streaks remain. Cover the mousse with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.

Meringue Ingredients

  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 9 large egg whites
  • 1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar

Meringue Recipe

  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, sift the 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar with the cocoa powder. Line 4 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Trace an 8-inch circle on 2 of the sheets.  In the stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites at low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Beat in the granulated sugar 3 tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat the whites until stiff and glossy, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the meringue to a large bowl and, using a large rubber spatula, gradually fold in the cocoa powder and confectioners’ sugar until just a few streaks remain.
  • Scrape the meringue into an icing bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Pipe the meringue into the traced circles in a spiral, beginning at the center; there should be no space between the spirals. On the other 2 prepared sheets, pipe the remaining meringue in long sticks, leaving about 1 inch between them. Let the meringue rounds and sticks stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Bake the meringue rounds for about 25 minutes, until they are firm and can be lifted off the parchment with an offset spatula. Transfer to racks to cool completely. Next, bake the meringue sticks for 12 to 14 minutes, until firm enough to be lifted off the parchment. Cut them into 6-inch lengths and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Using a sharp knife, cut the sticks into 1 1/2- to 2-inch lengths. It’s okay if these look messy, that’s part of the look so don’t worry about not having ‘perfect’ sticks.

Assemble the Cake (Concord cake recipe from Food & Wine)

  • Transfer a meringue round to a cake stand or platter. Spoon half of the chilled chocolate mousse onto the meringue and spread it in an even layer with a large offset spatula. Cover with the second meringue round and spread the remaining mousse on top, mounding it slightly in the center. Cover the cake entirely with the meringue sticks. Refrigerate until the mousse is firm, at least 6 hours or overnight. Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Note from Charlotte:

A year and half after her first guest post, Stephanie is back with another amazing baked creation she discovered and shared with me. I got a text from Stephanie on January first in which she insisted I needed to stop what I was doing and make this immediately. This is not the kind of advice I take lightly. I knew I needed to be clear-headed and patient with this recipe so I waited until I had a free day to give it the attention it deserved. The cake making and assembling process took me an entire afternoon but as Stephanie mentioned above, it was sooo worth it. I quickly realized that while I had an abundance of good things to say about this cake, as did my book club when I served it up to them last month, y’all needed to hear it from Stephanie just like I did, so I set out to convince her to come back to the blogging world. The photos featured in this post are from my cake because when Stephanie made hers, it got eaten up too quickly to photograph. Don’t you hate when that happens?