Chambéry Lemon Torte

Meringue takes two forms in this dessert: a crunchy cake layer and a fluffy frosting. The combination of chocolate meringue layers and lemon filling is subtle and refreshing.


Decorating Equipment

8-inch stiff cardboard round, 14-inch pastry bag, 3/16-inch (#1) round decorating tip, cake decorating turntable, sugar shaker, template of a lemon


Advance Preparations

If using, prepare a template from acetate. Trace a picture of a lemon with leaves from an art book.

Prepare Chocolate Meringue disks. (Pipe three -inch circles on the baking parchment. As the meringues dry in the oven, they will expand to 8 inches.) Dry them in a preheated 225-degree oven for 60 to 75 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through to ensure even drying. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.

Prepare Classic Lemon Curd. Cover the surface with plastic wrap, pierce the wrap to allow steam to escape and refrigerate. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before making the buttercream and frosting to remove its chill.

Using the 8-inch cardboard round as a guide, trim any uneven edges from the meringue disks with a small paring knife. Rest the knife against the cardboard as you cut. Also, if a disk is not level, trim any unevenness from its surface. Then place one disk on the cardboard for easier handling of the dessert.

Prepare recipe for Classic Italian Meringue. (You will only need ½ recipe for this torte.)

Making and Piping the Buttercream

Divide the lemon curd in half; reserve one-half (¾ cup) in a 3-quart mixing bowl for the frosting.

Place the butter in a 1½-quart mixing bowl. With an electric hand mixer, whip on medium speed (#5) for 40 to 45 seconds, or until light and fluffy. With the mixer running, add the lemon curd, a tablespoon at a time, and continue whipping until smooth. If necessary to achieve a smooth consistency, increase the speed and whip until the mixture is homogeneous.

Fit the 14-inch pastry bag with a 3/16-inch (#1) round decorating tip and fill it with the lemon buttercream.

Lift the meringue disk, pipe a dot of buttercream on the cardboard ½ inch from one of its edges, and reposition the meringue disk back on it. (This dot of buttercream holds the dessert on the cardboard once it firms in the refrigerator. It is not centered on the cardboard so the majority of the slices release easily when cut without sticking in the center.)

Pipe thin strings of buttercream, as in forming a meringue disk, in a continuous spiral over the meringue; top with a second disk. (Piping distributes a very thin layer of buttercream more evenly and more efficiently in this case than if the buttercream were spread with a metal spatula.) Press down lightly with fingertips so the two layers are level and adhere. Repeat the piping procedure, and place the last chocolate disk on top, upside down. (The flat side is now face up and will provide the most level finish for this dessert.) Press the top meringue disk down gently to adhere.

Making the Frosting

When the Italian Meringue is cool, remove ½ cup from the bowl containing the ½ recipe and discard. (Unless it is removed, it will make the lemon frosting too light and sweet.)

Spoon the remaining meringue into the bowl with the reserved lemon curd and fold together with a rubber spatula. The consistency resembles that of a stiff meringue or whipped cream. Place the dessert on the turntable.

Scoop all the frosting on top of the dessert. Using an 8-inch flexible metal icing spatula, maneuver the frosting, smoothing from the top and down the sides. Rotate the turntable as you work to finish the cake neatly and smoothly.

Refrigerate the dessert for at least 12 hours so that the flavors blend and the meringue softens slightly from the moisture in the filling and frosting.

Serving the Torte

Pour the cocoa into the sugar shaker. Hold the dessert over the sink, and dust its sides and top with the cocoa. Pour the powdered sugar into a small sieve. Lay the template of the lemon on top of the dessert, if using, and lightly dust it with the powdered sugar. Remove the template. Return the dessert to the refrigerator for up to 2 hours before serving.