Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Mango Bravo Challenge: Part 1 (of 3) - the Meringue Wafers

I know a lot of you have been waiting for this.

I finally challenged myself into creating a copycat of the Mango Bravo cake of Conti's Bakeshop and Restaurant.

I am not going to show a photo of my cake just yet.  I've decided to divide this post into three parts so I will reveal that when we reach Part 3. My cake is definitely not an exact copy. It is imperfect in many ways.  There are a lot of things that can be improved or changed. However, just the same, I am happy to share what I did to anyone who would care to know!  In all three parts, I will be detailing everything I did.  Please read them all thoroughly before attempting to bake your own cake as I will also be mentioning in the end the things I would want to do to get even better results.

What is this cake exactly? The Mango Bravo is a frozen cake described to be layers of cashew meringue wafers, chocolate mousse, cream and mango cubes, drizzled with chocolate syrup.  It is distinctively a very tall cake, the regular 8" size being about 7" high (or perhaps, even more!).

Image credit: Food Spotting
I have had the chance to taste this cake twice, on two separate visits (3 years apart) to the Philippines. Well, to be honest, I can hardly remember what the cake was really like because I got to eat just bits and pieces, not whole slices. It is supposed to be served frozen and when it sits at room temperature for a while, it becomes all soggy and melted and you cannot possibly get a decent slice. I can imagine, though, why people like this cake so much - it's crunchy and nutty, it's fruity, it's chocolatey, it's creamy. 

Just by looking at photos of this cake, I already knew that the hardest element to recreate was the meringue wafer.  Meringue, in general, isn't difficult to make.  However, the ones on this cake were ridiculously thick. They looked rather different too, like toasted cake or huge lady finger biscuits.

Recently, I posted here a recipe of sans rival. Although similar to the cashew meringue wafers of sans rival, the Mango Bravo wafers do not appear to be loaded with cashews.  I could be wrong but purely based on the many photos that I've seen, I could only spot few chopped cashew pieces popping out here and there. The sans rival wafers are also way thinner. Those wafers I made took me two hours to bake. So how long would these thicker ones take to dry out and brown? Three, four, five, six hours in the oven???

This try was a shot in the dark.  Didn't really know what I was doing, no kidding.  However, I think in the end, it all worked out just fine.

MERINGUE WAFERS (makes three 8" round, 1" - 1 1/4" thick pieces)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups eggwhites (from 9-10 large eggs), room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated white sugar **
1 cup sifted icing (powdered, confectioner's) sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped unsalted roasted cashews
3 tablespoons cornstarch

**I actually used 1 cup of sugar but found the meringue just a tiny bit sweet for me so I am lessening it to 3/4 cup.

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 150 deg C.  Grease three 8" round pans and line the bottoms with baking paper.

In a bowl, combine icing sugar, cashews, and cornstarch thoroughly.



In a mixing bowl, starting from a low speed gradually increasing to medium, beat eggwhites and cream of tartar until frothy.  Gradually add in granulated sugar then increase speed to high and beat until eggwhites reach stiff peaks.


Gently fold in cashew mixture into the eggwhites.


Fold just until no specks of icing sugar/cornstarch can be visibly seen.


Divide meringue evenly into the three prepared pans.  Level off with an angled spatula.


Bake in the oven until meringue is golden brown inside and out (but not burned!), crispy and dry.  How long you say?

I really didn't have a clue on how long to bake these for! I first checked 2 hours in.


I poked a hole on one of the meringues and saw that the inside was still wet and very white.  I put it back in the oven and waited for another hour.


After 3 hours, the top seemed ready but when I turned it over, the bottom was still soft to the touch and as you can see, the inside was still white.


I wanted to give up at this point because I was concerned about how much gas I was consuming from having the oven on for that long! After thinking about it, I didn't want everything to go to waste, so I put the wafers back into the oven and left them there till I was sure that they were all dry and brown inside and out.

It took nearly 6 hours.



So there they are, my three thick wafers, finally all dry and brown and hopefully, crispy.  I let them cool completely, wrapped two of them in cling film and kept them in freezer bags.  I left one out so I could top it with chocolate mousse.  I planned to let the mousse set overnight.


28 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking the challenge and breaking the code :)

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  2. Hello Corinne, step 2 of this Meringue stage says "In a bowl, combine sugars, cashews, and cornstarch thoroughly". I presume you are referring to the icing sugar. Granulated sugar is to be mixed with the egg whites. Are my presumtions correct? Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I've edited the recipe.

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  3. Hi Corinne,

    Your Mango Bravo looks great! I'm sure it tastes great too! I'll try myself soon.

    Just a thought about creating the meringue wafers. When making sans rival, my lola taught to use cake rings to shape the meringue wafers. Line a half-sheet pan (13"x18"x1") with parchment paper. Spread a thin coating of softened butter on the cake ring. (Fingers work best!) Then put a conservative coating of flour on top of the layer of softened butter. Place the buttered and floured cake ring on one side the parchment lined half sheet pan and divide the meringue mixture into the prepared cake ring. Spread the meringue using an off-set spatula. Lift the cake ring and the meringue should be left on the sheet pan and only very little, if any, of the wet meringue should stay on the cake ring. Wash the ring mold and repeat the steps so that you have two 8" meringues on one pan. (It's faster if you have two cake rings.)

    This may work better so that you'll have evaporation on the top and sides of meringue and it'll dry faster in the oven. I know it works for sans rival meringue wafers, but those are thinner.

    Thanks again for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for the suggestion!

      Actually, after the third hour, I already removed the meringues from the cake pans because I wasn't sure if I still wanted to proceed or not. When I decided to continue with the baking, I just put them in a baking tray.

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  4. Thanks Corrine! You are relly brilliant!

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  5. I see, this could be the reason why a whole cake is a bit costly :-) Preparing it was tedious and consumes up gas for hours.

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  6. Thank you very for sharing Corrine! I love this cake and I will try making this.

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  7. Hi Corinne! I'd like to try your recipe but what measurements will I use if I want to bake a smaller one, say 6 instead of 8 inches?

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    Replies
    1. Try halving the recipe for a 6" cake.

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  8. Hi corinne,

    My meringue got stuck on the baking sheet / parchment paper. So it was a fail. Can you advice on what i could do better so it doesnt happen.

    Thanks in advance!

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  9. Hi! i tried this recipe last weekend and my siblings loved it. thank you for making this recipe :)

    https://instagram.com/p/9Pv0sOnCD7/

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  10. OMG! God bless your kind and beautiful heart for sharing this! xoxo
    my hubby is going to try and make this, cause i had been raving about this cake when i saw it on my FB friends post saying it was really yummy.. haven't had the chance to taste it back when i went back home last 2013.. so, thanks so much! <3

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  11. Hi! Has anybody tried increasing the temp to lessen the oven hours? I see 6 hours is very electric consuming.

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    1. 6 hours was just my experience in my own oven. It could be much less in yours. Increasing the temperature is not the solution. What you want is a very low temperature and a gentle bake in order to dry out the meringue. If you increase the temperature, your wafers will be brown even before the inside cooks.

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  12. Noted. Thank you Corinne. This adds to costing ;)

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  13. Hi. Are you sure that the oven temp is in celsius not farenheit.

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    Replies
    1. Of course I am sure. We don't use Fahrenheit in Australia.

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  14. Hi Corrine, thank you for sharing your recipe, so dying to trying this..but may i ask, on what level in the oven you bake this 3 pcs pan? thank you.

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  15. I have a small oven and had to use the middle and bottom levels but switched pan positions halfway through baking.

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  16. Hi! How did you remove the meringue from the cake pan without it sticking to the side of the pan?

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    Replies
    1. The pan is greased so the meringue should pull away from it naturally. You simply need to run a thin knife gently around the sides of the pan to release the meringue. If you are having trouble, you may also opt to line the sides with baking paper.

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    2. Hi Corinne i want to try your recipe next but i want to know what is the purpose of the cornstarch in the meringue? Is it to maintain the thickness of the meringue?

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    3. Yes, meringue with starch in it shrink less than meringue without.

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  17. i think the reason why the cake is not as high is that it is missing the butter chiffon layer at the top. at least that is what it looks like in the pictures and it was described as a "soft butter cake". there is no butter in wafers nor the mousse nor the mango and the top part when you really look at it is much much thicker. it can only mean butter chiffon

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    1. In Conti's own description of this cake, there is no mention of any "butter chiffon cake" layer. I think what some people perceive as that is just a layer of meringue that has actually gone soft. My version did not reach the 7" height because my wafers probably weren't as thick.

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