Layered chocolate meringue cake is sweet, stunning and filled with flavour and texture. Swirls of real chocolate run through the meringues, while light and fluffy cream sandwiches them together.
- Shockingly easy to make.
- Textures of crisp meringue and fluffy cream.
- It tastes of vanilla, chocolate and tang from fresh berries.
- An absolute crowd pleaser.
- Perfect when you want a make ahead dessert.
- Can be frozen for when it’s needed.
As if the textures and flavours weren’t amazing enough, this dessert is not only best made ahead, it’s totally freezable so you can make it way in advance of any celebration. In fact, it’s best frozen to get the the neatest slices (because it can be a beast to slice), not that it loses anything in taste and texture if you just hack into it, unfrozen.
On that note, it can be eaten at room temperature or frozen. When frozen, it kind of tastes like pavlova and ice cream all in one.
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What is a meringue cake?
Meringue cake is a name given to a number of versions of cake with meringue. In this case it’s 3 layers of meringue filled with cream. It can also be a cake topped with meringue like my chocolate meringue brownie cake.
Ingredients you’ll need
Meringues are an incredible creation requiring only 3 ingredients – egg whites, sugar and a stabiliser of some sort. This one has the addition of chocolate and then layers of cream and whatever toppings your heart desires.
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Eggs: I always use free-range eggs and separate them myself. I’ve never tried cartons of egg whites so can’t tell you if they’ll work. Cold or room temperature eggs will both work. When using cold egg whites, you tend to get a more stable meringue while room temperature will become more voluminous. I tend to use cold as I just forget to get them out of the fridge earlier.
- Sugar: If possible, use caster sugar (superfine sugar). This is NOT powdered sugar. Caster sugar is granulated white sugar that has been processed to be a little finer whilst still remaining granular. It’s helpful in meringue as it dissolves more quickly in the egg whites than granulated sugar will.
- Vinegar: A stabiliser is used to help the egg whites keep their fluffy, airy texture and help to prevent cracking. I use regular white vinegar in these, however I often use cream of tartar in my meringues. Either work fine. Lemon juice also works. Don’t use flavoured or coloured vinegar like red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, though white wine vinegar will work.
- Chocolate: Rather than use cocoa powder, I used real chocolate here so that every bite has a good hit of chocolate. Use a good quality chocolate. I use Lindt chocolate bars and chop them up and they work perfectly every time. I like the 70% smooth version.
- Chantilly cream: The Chantilly cream is made up of thickened cream (heavy cream), vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract and caster sugar and takes literally 2 minutes to prepare.
- Toppings: I top my chocolate meringue cake with homemade chocolate curls, fresh raspberries and fresh cherries. If you aren’t sure how to make chocolate curls, you can simply run a vegetable peeler down the side of a block of chocolate for small curls.
How to make meringue cake (step-by-step)
Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.
- Prepare: Before we get into making the meringue, we first need to prepare a few things. Melt the chocolate and set that aside. Draw circles around the base of a cake tin onto baking paper then flip them over and place them onto large baking sheets and set aside.
- The meringue: To make the meringue, start by whisking the egg whites until you get soft peaks (photo 1). Now gradually add the sugar (photo 2) and continue beating until the meringue is glossy with stiff peaks (photo 3) and you can’t feel any sugar granules when you rub it between your fingers.
- Arranging them on the baking sheets: Spoon ⅓ of the meringue mixture onto each of the drawn circles on your baking paper and gently spread them out into circles (photo 4) using the drawn lines as a guide. Drizzle the chocolate over the top (photo 5), then use the tip of a knife to swirl it around a little.
- Bake and cool: Bake the meringues at a low temperature for 1 ½ hours then turn off the oven and let them sit in there as it cools for 1 hour. Now wedge open the oven door with a wooden spoon and cool for a further 30-45 minutes until they’re no longer warm. Remove them from the oven and cool completely at room temperature before assembling.
- The Chantilly cream: Chantilly cream is next-level whipped cream. This French whipped cream is just cream, sugar and vanilla whisked until stiff peaks (photo 6). It takes just 2 minutes. Do this close to assembly time.
- Assembly: Once the meringues have cooled, make some room in your freezer and assemble the meringue cake. Place one layer onto a cake plate or board (making sure it’s one that will fit in the freezer) and spread some cream over the top. Repeat two more times (photo above). Top with chocolate then freeze.
- Serving: Top the cake with fruit and slice while it’s still frozen. Let it sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes then serve up slices.
Freezing is the trick that makes this chocolate meringue cake sliceable. If you aren’t worried about neat slices, just use a large serving spoon to dig in and scoop out sections.
On another note, this meringue cake can be eaten from the freezer too and it tastes like a pavlova filled with ice cream.
Tips and tricks
- Make sure the meringue is smooth: When you’ve whisked the meringue to stiff peaks and it looks glossy, make sure to rub a little between your thumb and finger. If you feel any grains of sugar, keep beating until they’re dissolved. If they aren’t all dissolved, these are likely to weep later.
- Be gentle with the meringue: When you’re shaping the meringue into circles, be gentle. You don’t want to push out all the air you’ve created while whisking or they may not puff up. Even worse, they may turn into puddles.
- Cooling time: The gradual cooling time just ensures no cracks but since most of the meringue will be covered in cream, it’s not absolutely imperative to take the whole time suggested. Letting them cool in the oven for even half an hour with the door wedged open will work fine.
- Cold cream: You must use cold cream for whipping. The colder it is the better it will whip.
- Freezing: Freezing the meringue cake is important if you want neat slices. Don’t freeze the fruit on top. Add those before serving.
While stunning, this cake is a beast to slice. Use a sharp knife, cut while frozen and be as gentle yet firm as you can. You can see in my slice photo further down, there looks like more cream than meringue. While I’m the first to admit this is an indulgent cake, the meringue does crush down some as you cut into it – the layers are more even than they appear here.
Finally though, this cake loses nothing in flavour if you just choose to hack into it with a big serving spoon and serve it almost eton mess style.
How to use up egg yolks
Egg yolks are often called for in custard and pudding style recipes. They can also be frozen with some very specific steps.
Recipes to use up egg yolks
Freezing egg yolks
Egg yolks become gelatinous and unusable if frozen on their own, however, you can add a little salt or sugar to change the chemical balance and allow them to freeze and be perfectly usable. I found this information in this helpful post from The Spruce Eats.
Whisk the egg yolks just until smooth, then add either ⅛ teaspoon of salt or 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar (depending on if they’re going to be used for sweet or savoury recipes) for every 4 egg yolks and whisk that in. Now you can freeze them for up to a year in small container or ziplock bags with the date written on it.
I find ziplock bags best. You can freeze it flat, then when solid it can fit under or next to anything, neatly stacked alongside bags of things like pasta sauces. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator and make sure they’re completely thawed before using.
Yield and storage
This meringue cake recipe serves 10 to 12 people. It can be tricky to carve very thin slices even though it could technically go further.
This meringue layer cake can be frozen with the cream and chocolate for up to 1 month prior to serving. Freeze until solid, then gently wrap with plastic wrap. Remove the plastic wrap before thawing. You can also place a large mixing bowl over the top if you have one that fits.
Thaw the layered meringue cake in the fridge overnight (after slicing) or at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
Did you try this layered chocolate meringue cake recipe?
Leaving a rating and comment below the recipe is so helpful!
Chocolate Meringue Cake
- 85 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) (3oz)
- ¾ cup egg whites (approximately 6 large eggs), room temp
- 1 ½ cups caster sugar (superfine sugar) (300g / 10.5oz) (notes)
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 600 ml thickened cream (heavy cream or whipping cream) (2 ½ cups)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- ¼ cup caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1 ½ cups mixed fresh fruit (notes)
- Chocolate shavings/curls
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- 2 large baking sheets
- Place the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and melt in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring well between each until only just melted. Set aside to cool a little.
- Preheat oven to 120C (110C fan) / 245F.
- Trace around an 8 inch cake tin with pencil onto a sheet of baking paper and repeat 2 more times with two more sheets. Place the sheets, pencil side down onto the baking sheets. Set aside.
- With the mixer running, add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, counting to 20 between each. Once all the sugar is all added, increase the speed to medium-high speed (not highest setting) and continue to whisk until the egg whites are thick and glossy and at stiff peak stage.
- Test the mixture by rubbing a little between your finger and thumb. It should be smooth. If it is still grainy, keep beating until it is smooth when you test it.
- Add the vinegar and beat just enough to combine.
- Dot a little of the meringue mixture under the corners of the baking paper to stick it down to the trays.
- Use a spatula to spoon ⅓ of the meringue mixture onto one of the sheets of paper and gently coax it into the shape of a circle using the drawn line as a guide and level out the top. Repeat with the other 2.
- Drizzle ⅓ of the cooled, melted chocolate over the top of each and run a knife through to swirl it a little.
- BAKE: Place in the oven and bake for 1 ½ hours then turn the heat off and leave the pavlova in the oven, undisturbed, for 1 hour. Wedge open the oven door for a further ½ an hour or until the meringues have cooled.
- Start your beater on the lowest setting so that cream doesn’t splatter everywhere. Gradually increase to medium speed, keeping an eye on the consistency. As it gets very thick, turn it down to low and check regularly, until stiff peaks form. Careful not to overbeat or the cream will turn grainy.
- ASSEMBLING: Once cool, place the bottom layer on a cake platter and top with 1/3 of the chantilly cream. Spread it out using an offset spatula or spoon. Top with another meringue and more cream then the final layer of meringue. Top with the remaining cream and chocolate shavings.
- SERVING: Freeze overnight, then slice while still frozen. Add fresh fruit or berries. Let it sit at room temperature for around an hour, then serve. Slicing this cake can be tricky. Make sure you use a sharp knife and cut while frozen for the cleanest slices.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- All ovens vary – if you notice it turning golden, the oven may be too hot, turn it down.
- Don’t use icing, powdered, granulated or brown sugar. Only caster / superfine so that it dissolves without overbeating the egg whites.
- For topping ideas, use whatever fruit is in season.
- You can bake your meringues in the evening and leave them in the turned off oven overnight to cool completely.
- Check out all my pavlova/meringue tips, tricks and troubleshooting in this post.
- How to use up egg yolks: Egg yolks are often called for in custard and pudding style recipes. They can also be frozen with some very specific steps. See the post for more information on storing and using your leftover egg whites.
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