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Hazelnut Meringue Gâteau

(recipe, Zena Chew)

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This recipe comes from Helen Helms, who serves it to her family on Thanksgiving. Read more about Helms and her traditions in Zena Chew's story "The unturkey."


  1. 6 oz. chopped roasted hazelnuts
  2. 9 oz. caster sugar, superfine sugar, or ordinary granulated sugar pulverized in a food processor
  3. 4 egg whites
  4. ½ tsp. white vinegar
  5. ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  6. Whole or halved apricots in syrup (15-ounce can)
  7. 6 to 8 oz. heavy whipping cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Put the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the skins have blistered and the nuts are lightly browned. Let cool slightly, then rub the skins off by rolling the nuts in a clean dishtowel. Chop the nuts finely and set aside.
  3. Whisk the egg whites until fairly stiff but not dry. Whisk in sugar a little at a time until all the sugar is added and the mixture is very stiff. Whisk in vinegar and vanilla extract. Stir in 4 ounces of the chopped hazelnuts with a metal spoon.
  4. Line two round 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper. Divide batter between the two pans and put on middle shelf in oven; bake for about 40 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven. Let cool slightly in the tins for 10 to 15 minutes, then tip out carefully onto a cooling rack and remove paper.
  6. Drain the apricots and chop them into small pieces. Beat the cream until thick; reserve some (at least ¼ cup) for piping on top of the gâteau. Mix the apricots with the remaining cream and assemble the gâteau by spreading the apricot-cream mixture between the two meringue halves.
  7. Decorate the top of the assembled cake with dollops of the reserved cream; scatter the remaining hazelnuts across the top and serve.


The cooled cakes can be stored in an airtight container on the counter or in the fridge for 2 to 3 days. The apricot filling can be prepared a day ahead of time and stored in the fridge until needed.