A Concorde Cake is a combination of two simple elements – meringue and mousse – which together create a delightfully decadent dessert. It is rich, sweet, soft, and crisp. This is my new favourite cake!
It was created by Gaston Lenotre, a Parisian pastry chef, in 1969 to honour the Concorde plane which, upon its launch, was considered a marvel in both engineering and luxury travel. Since the Concorde plane was retired in 2003 this dessert is at risk of becoming a forgotten relic.
While the Concorde Cake is attributed to Lenotre I wasn’t able to find his original recipe online (although I understand it is featured in his book Lenotre’s Desserts & Pastries). I created my own version by adapting meringue and mousse recipes I have used before.
I also added some gold leaf as garnish to add a touch of luxury befitting such a cake. At a cost of $5.50 a sheet of gold leaf is an affordable luxury and adds a lot of “wow” factor. It wasn’t difficult or time consuming to add the gold leaf but certainly does require a light hand and some patience. Some may not have the temperament for this. The original Concorde Cake isn’t served with gold leaf so this may be omitted without any concern.
This cake looks and tastes like it is difficult to make but it is surprising easy. It will certainly impress at your next dinner party!
Chocolate Meringue (three discs and pieces) – recipe below
Chocolate Mousse – recipe below
1 small sheet of gold leaf (optional) I bought a single sheet of gold leaf from Executive Chef
Cocoa powder (about 1 tbsp)
This recipe is for an egg-free meringue based on chickpea water (aquafaba). You may substitute the chickpea water with 4 egg whites if you prefer.
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup icing (powdered) sugar
1 x 400g (14oz) can chickpeas (or 4 egg whites)
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 120C (250F). Line three baking trays with baking paper. Trace three 20cm (8 inch) circles on to the paper (I used the base of a loose-bottom flan dish as a template).
Sift together the cocoa and icing (powdered) sugar; set aside.
Drain and reserve the liquid from the can of chickpeas (the chickpeas may be used for another dish). Place the liquid in a large bowl and, using either a standing mixer or handheld electric whisk, whisk at high speed. Within a minute or so the liquid will start to foam and then become thick and form stiff peaks. Slowly add the sugar and cream of tartar while continuing to whisk. Whisk until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Add the cocoa/sugar mix and gently fold through.
Pipe the meringue onto baking trays. You will need three 20cm (8 inch) discs of meringue. Make long strips with the rest of the meringue; as many as you can fit on the tray.
Bake for 50 minutes. Switch off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven until completely cool (about 1.5 hours).
The meringue may be made ahead of time and stored in an air-tight container or, if it is especially humid, in the fridge.
300g dark (bittersweet) chocolate (I used Callebaut 53.8% cocoa solids)
240ml (or grams) of water
This is a very quick mousse so it’s imperative that everything is ready before you start. Place some ice cubes in a large bowl with a cup (or so) of water and place a smaller bowl inside of this (the mousse will be whisked in this smaller inner bowl). Have a rubber spatula and whisk ready (an electric whisk is highly recommended!)
Place the chocolate and water in a saucepan and melt over a lowish heat, stirring with the spatula, until melted and smooth. Pour into the inner chilled bowl and whisk! whisk! whisk! The mousse will thicken as it cools; whisk until it forms thick soft ribbons.
The mousse may be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge until needed. It won’t lose any volume by being stored in the fridge but it will firm up so it’s best to remove it from the fridge for 20 minutes or so before assembling the cake.
Place one disk of meringue on the cake plate and cover with chocolate mousse; add the second meringue disc and cover with more mousse. Place the third disk – upside down with the flat bottom up – on top. Cover the top and sides with the remaining mousse.
Carefully cut the meringue strips into 3.5cm (1.5 inch) pieces. Select the best looking pieces to decorate with gold leaf. To do this, carefully remove the top paper from the gold leaf. Then gently press a meringue piece onto the edge until the gold sticks to it. If you need to nudge the gold leaf into place use another piece of meringue. Don’t touch the gold leaf with your fingers; it will stick!
The cake stores very well in the fridge. Although the meringue will soften after assembled it is in a way that it very enjoyable. If you want to enjoy the cake with crunchy meringue then assemble just prior to serving.
Beware of cling film when storing the cake as the gold leaf sticks firmly to it. I learnt this the hard way.