And this was my answer...
I've seen this cake in Loblaws, I always wanted to buy it... but as you know, I'm frugal and this cake was $14.99 for a 7" cake. How could I possibly pay $15 for a wee little cake! It's not like spending $23 for a glorified rubber chew toy for the baby (I'll get to that story one day). After years of starring this cake down behind the bakery glass, I finally bought it. (to be accurate, K bought it, I think I would have chickened out at the cash). Let me tell you... this cake was worth the wait. It was fantastic! I was in trouble, because there is no way I could ever bring myself to buy the $15 cake again.
I accept the challenge!
What I did What I would do next time
4 egg whites 5 egg whites
3/4 cup white sugar 3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 walnuts 1/4 cup hazelnuts (or walnuts)
2 Tbsp corn starch 2 Tbsp corn starch
Preheat oven to 250 C. Draw 2 8" circles on parchment paper and place on a cookie sheet. Beat the egg whites in a glass or metal mixing bowl (meringue will not form peaks in a plastic bowl) until soft peaks form. Slowly add white sugar and beat until hard peak forms. In a food processor grind nuts and corn starch together until it reaches the consistency of corn meal, or a little bit bigger. Fold the nuts into the meringue. Place meringue in a piping bag (or a ziplock bag as I did). Pipe meringue in a spiral fashion onto the parchment paper circles. Bake in the oven for 1.5 hours or until the meringue is hard throughout. Remove from oven, remove parchment paper when meringue is cool enough to touch, place on a cooling rack.
(2) 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
Use one of these methods to make the caramel. I used two methods, I wasted 1.5 hours cooking the milk in the oven. It wasn't the right color when it came out, so I put it in the microwave for another 8 mins in 2 minute intervals. Next time I would cook the caramel using the microwave method or the stove top method, and I would cook it until it was a bit darker and richer in color.
Refrigerate the caramel until cool (approximately 3-4 hours depending on the size of the bowl).
Stabilized Chantilly Whipped Cream
(basically this means a thicker (stabilized) sweetened (Chantilly is a fancy way of saying the whipped cream has sugar in it) whipped cream)
2 cups 35% cream
1/4 cup white sugar (optional)
2 packets of Whip It (in the baking aisle)
Make sure all of your ingredients and your bowl are very cold. Add the Whip It to the cream and beat until soft peaks form. Slowly add in your sugar. Beat until hard peaks are formed. Do not over beat or your cream will turn into butter. Next time, I might try to stabilize the whipped cream with gelatin, I think it might result in a more firm cream that holds up longer, but I would like to test it first.
Assemble the cake just prior to serving. Divide caramel in 2 portions, leaving about 4 Tbsp aside for garnish. Spread caramel onto both of the cooled meringues, pipe whipped cream on top of the first layer. Place the second meringue on top, pipe whipped cream on top. Using the caramel you set aside, place it in a ziplock bag and add a design on the top of the cake. Refrigerate until serving.
$2.99 Condensed milk
$3.49 whipping cream
$1.29 Whip It
Delicious cake... priceless!