Origin: Bistro Montage chef Enosh Kelley had his first taste of Gateau Marjolaine when he was a kid living in New York. The fantastic flavor of this decadent French cake, with layers of chocolate and vanilla buttercream spread between crunchy hazelnut and almond meringue sheets, stuck with him for years to come. Shortly after purchasing the Ingersoll Avenue French bistro in 2003, he added the dessert to his menu.
“You can’t take that cake off the menu,” Kelley said. “It’s hard to find it anywhere outside of New York City.”
The cake (“gateau” is French for cake) was a creation of Fernand Point, a pioneer of nouvelle French cuisine and the chef/owner of the famous La Pyramide in Vienne, France. The recipe, which took many trials to perfect, appears in his book “Ma Gastronomie.”
The process: One cake serves 12 and takes an entire workday to create, although Kelley usually makes the meringue layers one day and the buttercream another. He churns out about two cakes each week.
First, he forms several sheets of dacquoise, a meringue layer composed of whipped egg whites, powdered sugar, toasted almonds and hazelnuts. It’s spread out on a cookie sheet and dries for about two-and-a-half hours until it hardens.
Next, Kelley creates a French buttercream. French differs from Italian buttercream in that it’s made with more egg yolks than egg whites, he says. It’s also cooked at a lower temperature. The result is an extra creamy consistency. Kelley makes two flavors: vanilla and a dark chocolate.
The cake is assembled in an alternating fashion of meringue discs and layers of dark chocolate and vanilla buttercream. It’s chilled, cut, then served with a drizzle of dark chocolate ganache and a dusting of powdered sugar.
The taste: Spectacular. Chef Kelley especially appreciates the contrast in each bite. “It’s crunchy, creamy; it’s hazelnuts and chocolate,” he said.
The taste and texture is a sophisticated experience unlike any other dessert, which is what makes the Gateau Marjolaine — both the cake and the experience of tasting it — so special.
Bistro Montage's Gateau Marjolaine
Where: 2724 Ingersoll Ave.
Hours: 5 p.m.-close Tuesday through Saturday
Info: 557-1924, bistromontage.com