You read about Gail Monaghan’s all-time favorite dessert, Fané, but…something was missing for me…something…could it be?…yes…chocolate. I could not possibly have a favorite dessert that was not chocolate, or at the very least chocolate-related, so I decided to make a chocolate Fané for The Second Unconfidential Cooks’ Dinner. What can I say? I outdid myself! It was fantastic (not just my opinion…) and I’d make it again in a heartbeat, perhaps even making my own chocolate nougat for an OTT chocoholics’ (that would be me…) dessert. (BTW, I’m including a recipe for regular nougat from Gail…scroll on down…and I bet I could just add cocoa powder and turn that chocolate, too).
One of my mottos: You can’t be too rich, too thin or have too much chocolate.
I told Gail about my creation and she said she always wanted to make a fané using coffee ice cream…and about someone who made it using oreo ice cream and oreos (probably instead of the meringue? Because you absolutely have to have that nougat center). Interesting, though, how the plain vanilla sparks other ideas: Gail suggested that raspberry ice cream would be lovely in summer…or lemon custard ice cream…or grand marnier ice cream to go with the orange flower water in the nougat (if you make it yourself).
I will stick with the chocolate.
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
¾ cup plus 5 tablespoons superfine sugar
1/2 cup quality cocoa powder
3 pints quality chocolate ice cream, softened
5 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
12 ounces hard white nougat, crushed into small pieces, recipe below
¾ cup (about 3 ounces) shaved bittersweet chocolate.
The day before, prepare the meringue (I TOTALLY CHEATED, and bought chocolate meringue cookies, but I have a good excuse: My kitchen is too humid to make meringue): Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar on low speed. When soft peaks form, increase the speed and sprinkle in ¾ cup of the sugar and 1/4 cup (or less) cocoa powder until the meringue holds stiff peaks.
Spread meringue into a rough 1-inch layer on baking sheet. Bake until slightly sticky when pierced with a knife, about 2 hours. Turn off oven and leave meringue inside for a few hours to dry completely. Break into 1- to 2-inch chunks. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
Four hours before serving, assemble the fané: Spray the inside of a 4-quart metal bowl with cooking spray and lay a large piece of plastic wrap against the inside of the bowl. Spread the ice cream evenly over the entire inside of bowl and plastic wrap. Cover and freeze.
Two hours before serving, whip the cream. When it begins to thicken, add remaining sugar and the vanilla, then beat to soft peaks. Set aside 2 to 3 cups cups of the whipped cream and refrigerate. Fold nougat into remaining whipped cream, then add to the ice-cream-lined bowl. Cover and freeze.
Just before serving, rewhip the reserved whipped cream to firm peaks, fold in remaining cocoa powder and broken pieces of chocolate meringue. Turn the bowl out onto a platter, separating the plastic wrap from the bowl. Remove the plastic wrap. Cover the ice cream with whipped cream. Sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Let soften a bit at the table before cutting into wedges.
1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar
1/2 cup water
1 t. orange flower water or a bit more
2/3 cup medium-flavored honey like lavender, orange blossom, wild flowers
Large pinch of salt
1/4 t. cream of tartar
3 eggs whites, room temperature
2 cups toasted blanched almonds
1 cup hazelnuts and/or pistachios, skinned and toasted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees to warm the already toasted nuts.
Line a pan approximately 10 inches square with rice paper. Line the sides also and have the paper come an inch or two higher than the sides. Tip: Butter will help the paper stick to the sides
Put the sugar and waters in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the mixture boils and becomes clear. Then stir in the honey and place a candy thermometer in the pan.
Meanwhile place the eggs whites, salt and cream of tartar in a metal bowl of an electric mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed (raise to high as they begin to get stiff) until the egg whites are very, very stiff. Turn off and wait for the sugar to be ready.
When the temperature reaches 302 (hard crack) turn the mixer back to high and add the hot sugar-honey mixture in a slow steady stream.
Beat on high for 10 minutes scraping down the bowl occasionally.
Then put the bowl in a heavy skillet (to keep the mixture from burning) over low heat. Heat, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon until it is warm and easy to stir in the nuts.
Stir in the nuts and then spread the nougat into the prepared pan. Cover with more rice paper, cut to fit and fold the edges down over the nougat to form a package.
Place another slightly smaller pan inside on top of the nougat and weight with HEAVY cans for 12 hours.
Unmold and cut into 2-inch bars. Rice paper the cut sides.
If necessary, place bars on a cookie sheet in a very low oven to dry for several hours.