50g/1½ oz (⅓ cup) whole un-skinned almonds
2 large egg whites
110g/4 oz (scant 1 cup) icing (confectioners’) sugar
45g/1½ oz dark (semisweet) chocolate (75% cocoa solids)
1 tablespoon dark rum
2 tablespoons fresh cream (fat content 35–40%)
300ml/10 fl oz (11⁄4 cups) softly whipped cream
5 toasted almonds, to decorate

This classic Ballymaloe recipe has been part of our repertoire since the 1960s. The flavour of the toasted almond meringue works particularly well with the chocolate and rum cream. The cream is quick to make but it requires careful mixing: when the cold whipped cream is added to the melted chocolate there is a risk that the chocolate might solidify.

To prevent this, the cream should be carefully blended into the melted chocolate in stages. I recommend assembling the gâteau at least one hour before you plan to serve it. It can be kept in the refrigerator for several hours and as it sits, the meringue softens slightly and becomes easier to cut.

View the recipe collection here


2.Preheat the oven to 180°C.
3.First blanch and skin the almonds. Drop the whole almonds into boiling water and let them sit for 1 minute. Drain the nuts and discard the water. The almonds will now easily pop out of their skins.
4.Chop the nuts to a coarse gritty texture and place on a baking sheet.
5.Lightly toast in the oven until pale golden, about 8 minutes.
6.Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C.
7.Cover a baking sheet with baking paper and use a pencil to draw two 19cm/7½-inch diameter circles on the paper. Flip the paper so the pencil is on the underside.
8.Check that the bowl of your electric stand mixer is dry, spotlessly clean and free from grease.
9.Place the egg whites and sugar into the bowl and whisk until the mixture forms stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.
10.Fold in the chopped almonds and, using the pencil circles as a guide, evenly spread the meringue on the baking sheet in two circles.
11.Bake for 30–45 minutes until crisp and set.
12.When the meringue is cooked it will lift easily away from the baking paper.
13.Allow to cool completely.
15.Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water.
16.When the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and blend in the rum and cream.
17.If the mixture is quite warm, allow it to cool a little.
18.Carefully fold the softly whipped cream into the melted chocolate mixture in three stages.
20.Place one of the meringue discs on a serving plate.
21.Spread or pipe most of the chocolate cream over the meringue taking care to keep the edges neat.
22.Put the second circle of meringue on top and press down lightly.
23.Pipe ten rosettes of the remaining chocolate cream on top.
24.Split the toasted almonds in half and use to decorate each rosette.
26.There are several variations of this gâteau that I love.
27.Instead of filling the meringue with chocolate cream, try using plain whipped cream and berries; raspberries and loganberries are particularly delicious and strawberries sprinkled with kirsch is another favourite.
28.Ripe, juicy peaches or nectarines also make a lovely filling for the almond meringue.
29.If you fill the gâteau with fruit, offer fresh fruit sauce with it.

Recipes and images
extracted from Ballymaloe
Desserts: Iconic Recipes
and Stories from Ireland by
JR Ryall
. Photography by
Cliodhna Prendergast.
Published by Phaidon, $95.