Before starting this Chaumontais recipe, organise the necessary ingredients to make the almond meringue shells.
For the almond meringue shells: Combine the castor sugar and almond powder. Sift together...
... over a sheet of greaseproof paper. Set aside.
Place the egg whites in the food mixer recipient, and start beating at maximum speed.
Add 100 grams of castor sugar...
... and the brown sugar.
Beat the egg whites until stiff.
Add the sifted preparation in 2 or 3 stages...
... and combine gently with a rubber spatula. This preparation should be used and baked immediately.
Place a piping bag inside a piping bag holder.
Transfer the meringue into the piping bag.
Arrange a Flexipan silicone mould with half egg cavities on a Silichef XL perforated baking sheet.
Fill the cavities with the preparation.
... up to the top. The amount of preparation should allow you to make a total of 30 shells. Keep the second half of the preparation in the piping bag to make a second batch later. You can leave the preparation at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Bake at 200°C (gas 6) preferably in a fan assisted oven, on the middle rack. Bake for 15 or 20 minutes.
When cooked, remove from the oven.
Set aside to cool before releasing from the mould.
For an easier operation, place the mould in the freezer for about 30 minutes. The almond meringue shells should come off easily. They might stick or break otherwise.
Repeat the steps above and make a second batch of shells. You will need a total of 30 shells to make 15 Chaumontais cakes.
For the light praline crème au beurre: Organise all the necessary ingredients.
In a stainless steel saucepan, tip the castor sugar and water. Use just enough water to humidify the sugar. Make sure you do not add too much water.
Bring to a boil and cook until the temperature reaches 121°C. The use of a digital thermometer is highly recommended, but not essential. (If you don't own one, simply dip a fork in the boiling sugar. If you see strings forming when you take the fork out, that means the sugar is ready.)
When the sugar approaches 110°C, start beating the egg whites until firm peaks form.
When the sugar reaches 121°C, add it to the beaten egg whites, pouring it against the inner side of the bowl.
Once the sugar is completely combined with the egg whites, continue beating on high speed until the preparation has cooled down completely.
When the preparation has cooled down to 30-35°C, gradually incorporate the softened butter, cut into cubes. When the butter is well incorporated, continue whisking to obtain a light texture.
Add 2 tablespoons of almond and hazelnut praline paste.
Whisk again until incorporated.
Reserve in the fridge until ready to serve.
Assembling the cakes: Assemble two almond meringue shells together...
... and seal with a thin layer of crème au beurre.
Store in the fridge to allow the cream to set.
Using a small cranked spatula, coat the sphere with a thin layer of praline pastry cream. The cake should be evenly coated with cream, without gaps.
Gently roll the biscuit in the chopped caramelized hazelnuts...
... until the whole surface of the sphere is coated with hazelnut pieces.
Gently remove the cake from the hazelnuts...
... and transfer onto a rack. Repeat the operation with all Chaumontais cakes. When the cream is set...
... sprinkle the cakes with icing sugar. I recommend using Codineige non-melting sugar a longer lasting effect.