Boccone Dolce is a featured dessert that’s been on Sardi’s menu for decades, although their version does not use hazelnuts which, of course, it would if Sardi’s were in Oregon.
Sardi’s has been a landmark restaurant in New York City’s theater district since 1927. More famous than its food is its extensive collection of celebrity caricatures. Numerous movies include scenes filmed at Sardi’s and some of them are: The Country Girl with Grace Kelly, The King of Comedy, Woody Allen’s Radio Days, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Producers, Author! Author! and many more. A dinner here will really chew up your credit card but you will be glad to add it to your dining experiences. Besides, who knows who you’ll spot at a nearby table? It is a place known for dining with the stars!
I first saw a photo and recipe for Boccone Dolce in my mother’s 1965 Treasury of Great Recipes by Mary and Vincent Price. This vintage book contains recipes from restaurants and hotels all over the world, with photos of food and menus revealing 1960s’ prices of elite dining. In 1965 this treat would cost you 85¢ – today (2013) it will add $12.50 to your tab. If you ever see a copy of this book, buy it. You’ll be glad you did.
My adaptation of Sardi’s ice-box cake pairs two of Oregon’s crops – strawberries and hazelnuts. Virtually all the hazelnuts in the US are grown in Oregon, our strawberries rank among the best you can find, and many world-class chocolate makers call Oregon home. The Ashland Springs Hotel hosts an annual chocolate festival each spring. Ashland is also the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. How sweet that you can enjoy copious amounts of chocolate and the Bard at the same time.
A well-dressed Boccone Dolce can be a stunning presentation for a wonderful meal or celebration. Imagine someone presenting this and saying, “I made this just for you.” Whatever effort you put into this will be returned with praise – not to mention the pleasure of enjoying a slice yourself.
For the meringue layers:
- 4 egg whites from 4 large eggs at room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) cream of tartar
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25 ml) salt
- 1 cup (240 ml) superfine sugar (baker’s sugar)
- 1 cup (240 ml) finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) Frangelico – an Italian hazelnut liqueur (optional)
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 225°F (107°C).
- Line baking sheets with parchment paper with three 8″ (20.3 cm) circles traced on them. I was able to trace two on one sheet and one on the other.
- In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until soft peaks form.
- While the mixer is running, gradually begin adding the sugar and continue beating until it is stiff and glossy.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the hazelnuts, Frangelico, and vanilla with a rubber spatula.
- Using your spatula, divide the meringue in thirds, placing ⅓ in the center of each circle.
- Spread the meringue to the edge of each circle making the top as level as possible.
- Bake in the oven for 2 hours until they are lightly bisque-colored.
- After 2 hours, turn the oven off and allow them to rest with the oven door open for 15 minutes longer.
- Gently peel off the parchment and allow to cool on racks until they reach room temperature.
Note: You can bake these, enclose in plastic wrap, and freeze for later use. I made mine a day early and just wrapped in plastic and left out overnight on my countertop. Remember – these are merely large meringue cookies.
- 6 ounces (170 g) semi-sweet chocolate in small pieces
- 3½ cups (840 ml) heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) vanilla extract
- 2 pints (4 cups or 1 l) fresh strawberries, sliced
- 8 perfect whole strawberries for decoration
- Several toasted hazelnuts and a generous ¼ cup ( 60 ml) of chopped hazelnuts for decoration
Note: Place mixing bowl and cream in freezer for several minutes before whipping. Heavy whipping cream behaves best when ice cold.
- Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, melt it in a heat-proof glass or stainless steel bowl over gently boiling water in a sauce pan. The bowl shouldn’t touch the hot water.
- Set aside to cool but do not let it turn solid again.
- Whip the cream until soft peaks begin to form, then gradually begin adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time, ending with the vanilla.
- Place one meringue layer on a serving platter.
- Spread a thin layer of chocolate over the top.
- Spread some of the whipped cream over the chocolate.
- Top the whipped cream layer with half of the sliced strawberries.
- Top the berries with another meringue layer.
- Repeat layering with chocolate, whipped cream and strawberries.
- Place final meringue layer over all and cover top and sides with remaining cream, reserving some for decorating.
- Pipe the remaining whipped cream in your best creative fashion over the cake, top with the whole strawberries, and scatter the chopped hazelnuts over the top surface.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Music, food and photography are at the center of Charles’ life. He performed with the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Opera and was assistant principal bassoonist with the Fort Worth Symphony for more than 20 years. When Charles and Victor moved to Baltimore, Charles created Lone Star Personal Chef and Catering Service and taught cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. Now in Salem, Charles is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Mountain West Real Estate, taught cooking classes for children at the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village, and owns and operates Charles Price Photography. Charles and Vic enjoy entertaining and frequently host dinners as fundraisers for local non-profits and charities