Hard to believe but we have been baking from the book, Baking with Julia, for more than two years. While I have enjoyed the process and reading posts from the other bakers, not every recipe has excited me and a few were just not an option. But when I read the headnote to the recipe for Cardinal Slices, I was a bit excited; this was a chance to make a classic cake and a caramel syrup. Then I read the entire recipe and saw the suggestion of turning the leftover batter into chocolate dipped ladyfingers called Rothschilds. Now this was what I call a great way to spend a morning!!!
The recipe for the cake layers instructs you to make a meringue first. The meringue is piped with a 1/2 inch tip the length of the baking pan, actually, three long ropes that are fairly close together; the two outer ropes are just three inches apart. The leftover meringue is incorporated into an egg and egg yolk mixture with sugar and whipped to a full ribbon with flour folded in last. This mixture is piped between the meringue stripes and then it is baked.
The espresso caramel syrup is made by burning a small amount of sugar and adding more, bit by bit as you go. This caramel is cooked much darker than you would expect and the final step is to add hot espresso. It is intensely flavored and it can be a little bitter from both the burned sugar and the espresso but the whipped cream will temper the bitter and even if you are skeptical, make it!
The final step is to make a lightly sweetened, whipped cream and flavor it with the espresso caramel syrup. You are instructed to trim the three strips so that they are evenly sized but let me warn you, if it is a humid day, think twice and perhaps bake the strips longer or wait until a dryer day. My strips got pretty sticky and were difficult to trim so I didn’t bother.
Do you remember the mention of ladyfingers? Well let me suggest this, if you do not want to waste leftover batter, cut the recipe in half and do not bother with the lady fingers. There was enough of the batter left to make lots of ladyfingers, three trays, actually. According to the directions, I sifted almond flour over the cookies and placed a pan in the oven with my cake strips. Honestly, I wondered about this because the cake strips were baked at 300 degrees and everything I know about sponge cakes tells me that temp was way too low. My suspicions were correct and after the instructed baking time of 30 minutes, I had lovely, golden brown, ladyfinger shaped strips of sawdust. They were awful, truly awful. Since I noticed that the recipe suggested reading the other ladyfinger recipe in the book for hints, I flipped to it. This recipe called for baking them at 400 and since I really wanted to make the Rothschilds, I cranked up the heat. Sadly, the results were not much better, they weren’t as dry or sawdust like but truth be told, they were not any puffier.
Needless to say, my dreams of chocolate dipped Rothschilds were crushed. In the future, I will probably try making them from the other recipe in the book, the one written by Flo Braker and if I, or should I say when I, make this cake recipe again, I will skip that step and just make half the cake recipe.
Oh, one more thing, totally worth the calories. Try this one if you can-you will not regret it! To see how the other bakers did, check the Tuesdays with Dorie website and look for the LYL page.