Iceland has emerged as a popular destination on my Instagram feed, making me want to hop the next plane up to visit. I sometimes daydream about the dramatic landscapes, but haven’t seen many images of the food. Photographer and author Jen Jacobs, however, traveled to Iceland and brought back her own take on a fantastic desert she has named the Selfoss Cake, after the town in which she first encountered it. Meringue is an integral part of some of Iceland’s most popular desserts, including this meringue cake, which is akin to whipped cream sandwiched between two pavlovas. —Kristina
Why Jen loves this cake: Iceland is another planet. A moonscape of ice blue, jet black, and neon green. While co-leading a visual storytelling workshop last year, we spent the days on the road exploring. One of our first stops was the small town of Selfoss for coffee and a cocoa-whipped meringue pie studded with chocolate-covered raisins, boiled peanuts and a drizzle of honey. As we traveled through the West Fjords and the southwest coast, we found meringue cakes in nearly every café we visited, but I fell hardest for the slice in Selfoss. This is my interpretation of that dessert.
The Selfoss Cake
– 6 large eggs, room temperature, separated
– pinch of salt
– 1 ¼ cup fine granulated sugar
– 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
– 3 cups heavy cream
– 2 tablespoons spiced dark rum
– 1 teaspoon vanilla
– ½ cup powdered sugar
– 3 tablespoons honey
– 1 cup peanuts, shelled
– ½ cup chocolate-covered raisins
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
3. Mix the fine sugar and cocoa in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Using a stand or hand-held mixer, whip the six egg whites with a pinch of salt and slowly add the sugar/cocoa mix when soft peaks begin to form. Continue to beat until firm peaks form then set aside.
5. In another bowl, melt the semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler over low heat and continue to mix until thoroughly melted and glossy.
6. Carefully fold the melted chocolate into the whipped egg whites to create a marbled effect. Divide the mixture into two even piles on the parchment paper creating thick, semi-flat 8-inch circles. Turn the oven down to 275F and bake for 1.5 hours. Turn off the oven and open the oven door slightly; allow to cool completely for one hour before removing from oven.
7. Whip the heavy cream with the dark rum, vanilla and powdered sugar until medium peaks form.
8. To assemble the cake, place one meringue layer on a serving plate. Drizzle with honey and top with half of the whipped cream. Sprinkle with half the peanuts and another drizzle of honey. Lightly coat the bottom of the other meringue layer with whipped cream then place on top. Drizzle that layer with honey and top with the second half of the whipped cream. Sprinkle with remaining peanuts, the chocolate covered raisins and another drizzle of honey.
9. Allow the cake to set up in the freezer for 30 minutes before cutting. An ice-cold knife helps as well!
About Jen: Jen CK Jacobs is a photographer, author and magic purveyor. She writes about her travels and family at Ramble + Wolf while creative directing several brands including her own, Roberts + Gene and her husband’s, Odyssey Woodshop. Together they are raising their six children in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Follow Jen on Instagram here and Roberts + Gene here.