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