|here’s a side view of Elzbieta’s cake – a slice of the cube|
My friend Elzbieta made Kostka Alpejska (Cube from the Alps) as one of her Easter cakes along with Mazurek a few years ago, and I was lucky enough to sample it during an Eastertide visit to her home.
It was my good fortune to meet Elzbieta (Polish for Elizabeth) the first time I went to a gathering of the Poznan International Ladies Club. She had worked in a hotel restaurant as a technologist before she retired. As best as I can tell, a technologist is something like a home economist, I think they are knowledgable not only about cooking, baking, etc, but also nutrition, and managing a budget. A good go-between for a business minded manager and creative chef.
We both loved to cook and try new recipes, and Elzbieta’s family had spent a year in Washinton state, probably in the 1980s. Her husband, a physics professor had been teaching at Washington State University in Pullman. Their two daughters attended attended American school that year.
She said there were special programs to help the children integrate, and for the visiting faculty, but at the time, nothing for the visiting faculty spouses. It was a long lonely year for her, and it made here especially empathetic to a newly arrived American. She made a special point to invite me to visit and to show me around. I learned so much in her cozy kitchen, but I digress, back to the recipe.
Cube from the Alps or Alpine Brick depending on your translation is a thin cake of chocolate sponge, topped with a caremel buttercream into which you’ve added small little baked meringue kisses (beza). The whole thing is then topped with stabilized whipped cream and shaved chocolate. It makes for a striking presentation.
Kostka Alpejska (Cube from the Alps) is sweeter than most Polish desserts, making it just right for the American palate. Maybe you’ll want to add Kostka Alpejska (Cube from the Alps) to your holiday menu this year!
Reminiscent of tiramisu, this layered dessert is sweeter than most Polish pastry
for the cake:
- 4 eggs, seperated
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup cocoa
- 1/3 cup flour
- 1/4 cup coffee liqueur
- 1/2 cup seedless blackberry preserves
For the frosting:
- 14 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 14 ounce can Dulcede Leche (or a can of sweetned condensed milk that you have submerged in boiling water for 3 hours, you’ll have to keep adding water, but the milk will caramelize)
- 1/4 cup Ajerkoniak (I substituted Bailey’s Irish Cream)
- 2 teaspoons instant coffee
- 8 ounces dried meringue kisses
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 16 ounces heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate
- Preheat oven to 340 F
- Grease a 9 inch x 13 inch pan
- Beat egg whites for 2 – 3 minutes, slowly add sugar and beat 3 minutes more
- Beat in egg yolks
- Sift together cocoa and flour, add to fluffy egg mixture in 3 small batches, mix until just combined
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the top springs back when touched lightly, or a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean
- Combine the coffee liqueur with 1/4 cup water and brush over cake
- Warm the blackberry preserves until thin and brush over cake
Frosting and assembly
- Beat the butter until light and fluffy
- Add the dulce de leche, ajerkoniak and instant coffee, beat until light and fluffy
- Crush meringues, and stir into the caramel buttercream
- Spread over the cake and chill
- Sprinkle gelatin over 2 tablespoons water
- Warm in the microwave for a few seconds to melt the gelatin, cool
- Beat cream until soft peaks form, continue to beat while slowly adding sugar and vanilla
- When the beaters are leaving a track in the cream, add the gelatin
- Spread the whipped cream over the buttercream layer
- Use a microplaner or a box grater to shave chocolate over the cream
- Refrigerate until ready to serve, cut into small cubes
If you don’t want to be one of those bakers with a dozen liqueur bottles on the shelf (not that I see anything wrong with that, but it gets expensive), mini-bottles are just the right size for this recipe. Total Wine and More is a great source for mini-bottles of just about everything.
Using dissolved gelatin to stabalize whipped cream is a great trick. It will keep the cream from seperating and getting runny if you need to make it in advance.