Polka-Dot Cake
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Polka-Dot Cake

Pastel-colored meringues transform a classic yellow cake into a gorgeous spring dessert.

Serves 10 to 12
Work: 1 hour
Total: 5 hours

Ingredients

For the Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 16-ounce containers chocolate frosting, whipped until fluffy

For the Meringue Kisses
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 large egg whites
Gel-paste food coloring

Directions

  1. For the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 8-inch round cake pans; line pans with parchment, grease, and flour, tapping out excess flour; set aside. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. Beat butter and sugar until light, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs one at a time, beating after each. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 3 parts, beginning and ending with flour and scraping down sides of bowl often. Divide batter between pans and bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans 15 minutes. Turn out and cool, top side up.
  3. For Meringue Kisses: Heat oven to 175 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Prepare 4 large pastry bags fitted with 1/2-inch plain tips or plain couplers; set aside.
  4. In a small, heavy saucepan combine 3/4 cup sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves; remove spoon. Brush insides of pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals. Boil, without stirring, until syrup registers 230 degrees F. on a candy thermometer, about 4 minutes.
  5. While syrup cooks, whip egg whites and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form. With mixer on low speed, pour sugar syrup into egg whites in a slow steady stream. Increase mixer speed to high and beat until mixture is thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.
  6. Working quickly, divide meringue between 4 bowls, then tint pink, orange, yellow, or blue. Stir each one before transferring to prepared pastry bags. Pipe 1-1/4-inch round kisses onto lined baking sheets as close together as possible. Bake until set and cooked through, about 2 1/2 hours. Turn oven off, leaving meringues to dry completely, about 1 hour.
  7. Assemble the cake: Trim domed tops from cooled cakes. Fill with a 1/4-inch-thick layer of frosting and frost the entire cake. Decorate sides with meringue kisses.

Tip: Our recipe for Colorful Meringue Kisses makes a big batch -- you'll only need about half of them to decorate the cake. To create tasty cookies out of the rest: Sandwich kisses together with frosting, your favorite jam, peanut butter, dulce de leche, Nutella, or any other dessert spread. They'll stay crisp for a day.

Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, May 2011.

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