Category Archives: Cardinal Slices

The Classic Cardinal Slice

Here is what I’m told on good authority is a classic cardinal slice: two meringue-layfinger layers sandwiching raspberry jam. Of course because I can’t leave anything alone I stirred lots of fresh raspberries into the jam and spiked the whole mess with kirsch. Hello Vienna!

It’s easy to see where this has a stronger claim to the name “cardinal”. Its colors are much more reminiscent of a Cardinal of the Catholic Church: gold, white and crimson. How does it compare to the espresso cream version below? Well, both are airy-light yet full of eggy flavor and elegant texture contrasts. Whereas the espresso cream version is rich to boot, the raspberry version is sweet and tangy. It’s very difficult for me to pick a favorite, honestly.

This slice calls for bigger layers. So if you want to try it, cut your parchment strips so they’re five inches wide versus three, and put them on separate sheet pans so they don’t run together. Use a pastry bag without a tip to pipe, making sure that the opening is right around an inch wide. Squeeze the very end of the bag gently as you pipe so that the opening doesn’t collapse, and pipe fat, tubular stripes.

The same amount of batter will provide enough for either version. You’ll have a little extra meringue batter, and just barely enough ladyfinger batter. Bake the layers a little longer, 7-9 minutes at 375, then a good 10-15 at 300, rotating the pans top-to-bottom. After cooling, you don’t necessarily need to freeze the layers. Just dust them amply with sugar so they’re easier to handle.

When you’re ready to shape, dust a work surface with powdered sugar, up-end one of the layers onto it and carefully peel off the parchment. Spread on the filling of your choice. Cut the other layer into serving-sized pieces and lay the tops on. Then just cut and serve. If you’re using raspberry, you’ll want to assemble just before serving so the jam doesn’t soak into the pastry.

Have fun!

Filed under:  Cardinal Slices, Pastry | 6 Comments

There’s a Disaster at the End of this Post

What did that say? The headline up there? Did that say there will be a disaster at the end of this post? It did? Oh, I am so scared of disasters. Listen, I have an idea. If you don’t scroll down any further we will never get to the end of this post. And that is good, because there is a disaster at the end of this post. So please don’t scroll down any further.

You scrolled down! Here you can see that I’ve got all my ingredients laid out ahead of time for my cardinal slice layers. And that’s important because you need to move right along with a recipe like this. There’s no time for measuring or egg-cracking when you’re in the middle of making the batters. Oh, I also have my oven set to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can see that you also need to get your pans & parchment sheets ready. Three 3-inch wide strips, greased with a little melted butter: two on one sheet pan one on the other. (All on one is too much because the layers can run together a little). But this is all immaterial anyway because you’re not scrolling down any further.

Hang on, what are you doing? You’re getting us closer to the disaster at the end of this post! On which note you can see here that I’ve put my egg whites and pinch of salt in a bowl, whipped the mixture into a froth and am adding the sugar in a steady stream.

I whipped them only to soft peaks. The foam drips off the whip but when it hits the mass the blobs pretty much stay where they are.

Next I grabbed a pastry bag with just the collar and no tip.

I loaded it with the meringue…

…and gently piped three lines of meringue down each piece of parchment.

Like so.

Then I promptly started the next batter. I put the eggs, yolks, vanilla and sugar in the mixer bowl — I didn’t bother to clean it — then started whipping.

I whipped for 3-4 minutes on medium high, just until fairly thick ribbons fell in the first few seconds after lifting the whip. I didn’t want to do any more than that, because over-whipping is lethal to this batter.

Then I…wait, are you scrolling down again? I told you I didn’t want to get any closer to the disaster at the end of this post, OK? Because there’s nothing I hate more than a baking disaster. It’s embarrassing, you know? I have my pride — so quit it!

In any event, I sifted on the flour…

Then folded it in, being careful to scrape down at the bottom of the bowl where much of the flour will always settle. Especially in a very light, foamy batter like this.

I folded for about 45 seconds or so, until the batter looked like this.

The batter was so light that it could literally be poured into the pastry bag (the same bag, not washed, just with the remaining meringue squeezed out). The liquidity, I must confess, alarmed me a little. The batter will drip everywhere if you aren’t careful. However it wasn’t terribly difficult piping it between the meringue stripes.

I wasn’t perfectly neat, but things turned out OK, see?

As for the baking, I inserted the pans on two racks in the center of the oven (the pan with two strips on the top). I baked them for 5-7 minutes, at which point I rotated the pans top-to-bottom, then turned down the heat to 300 for another 10-15 minutes. At that point the first pan was finished. See?

The second pan needed a touch of browning, so I turned the oven back up to 375 and let the layer bake for about another three minutes. At which point I allowed all the pans to cool. Then I gently pried up the strips (being careful of the meringue edges) and froze them.

So far so good though I can’t help but notice that you’re STILL SCROLLING DOWN! I asked you to stop that, and I confess I’m very disappointed. I’d have thought that by now you and I had developed the sort of relationship where you’d do me a favor if I asked you nicely. Now KNOCK IT OFF!!!

Once the layers were completely frozen it was time to shape. I took my best layer out of the freezer and dusted it with powdered sugar (which makes the meringue less sticky and easier to work with).


Using a very sharp knife I cut the top layer into serving-sized pieces. Then I put the pieces — still on the parchment — back in the freezer.

At that point I took the worst of my three layers out of the freezer, peeled the parchment from the underside and set it on a fresh strip of parchment or wax paper. I prepared, then slathered on, a good deal of espresso whipped cream. About 3/4″ inch.

I shaped it gently into a slab and evened the top and sides.

Then I put on the next layer.

I repeated the process with the whipped cream. I spread it on liberally…

…squared off the whole cake and added extra cream where needed.

At that point I took the tops out of the freezer, gently pried them off the paper and placed them atop the cake.

Grasping the piece of parchment beneath I slid the finished cake off the work surface onto a sheet pan and put the whole thing in the freezer for a good four hours.

At that point it was ready for slicing with a sharp knife that I’d run under hot water and quickly dried…using firm, downward strokes and HEY!!! I THOUGHT I TOLD YOU TO STOP SCROLLING DOWN!!! WHY WON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME??? THERE’S A DISASTER AT THE END OF THIS POST!!! AND IF THERE’S ONE THING I HATE MORE THAN ANY THING IT’S A BAKING DISASTER!!! IT MAKES —

Hey. There isn’t a disaster at the end of this post after all. Just a delicious feather-light pastry. I guess these cardinal slices really did work out pretty well after all.

And YOU were so scared!

Filed under:  Cardinal Slices, Pastry | 31 Comments

Cardinal Slice Recipe

After fiddling with a few different recipes, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that Nick Malgieri’s cardinal slice formula provides the best combination of results and ease-of-use. I’ve run it four times now, and it’s delivered for me consistently. Try it and I think you’ll like it. You’ll need:

For the Meringue

8 ounces (1 cup or about 7) egg whites at room temperature
pinch salt
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar

For the Ladyfinger Batter

Remaining meringue batter after first piping is done
2 eggs
3 egg yolks
1.75 ounces (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
2.75 ounces (generous 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour

For the Filling

1 recipe stabilized whipped cream flavored with espresso syrup

Begin by preheating your oven to 375 degrees and positioning two racks in the center. Cut three parchment paper strips, 3 inches wide and 16 inches long (about the length of a jelly roll or half sheet pan). Grease two sheet pans pan and lay two strips onto one, the last strip on the other. Grease the parchment.

Put the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whip. Turn the mixer on medium-high and whip the whites until foamy, then steadily add the sugar. Turn the mixer up to medium high and whip to soft peaks. Transfer the meringue to a piping bad fitted with a 1/2″ plain tip and pipe meringue along the long edge of each parchment strip, then pipe a line of meringue down the middle of each, for a total of three lines per sheet.

Once that’s done, promptly prepare the ladyfinger batter. Add the eggs, yolks, vanilla and sugar to the mixer bowl (no need to wash it). Attach the whisk and whip the mixture on medium-high for about 3 1/2 minutes, until ribbons — but not extremely thick ribbons — fall from the whip when it’s lifted out of the batter. Remove the bowl from the machine and sift the flour onto the batter. Gently fold it in. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe two lines down each paper strip, between the lines of meringue.

Put the pans into the oven on separate racks — the pan with two strips on top — and bake for 10 minutes, until the ladyfinger batter is puffed. Rotate the pans top to bottom and turn the heat down to 300. Bake about another ten minutes but don’t let the meringue get very brown (a little is OK). If the strip on the top pan is still looking underdone when the bottom pan is ready, leave it in the oven for a few more minutes, turning the heat back up to 375 (check it often). Cool the pastry strips on a wire rack, then gently free them from the pan with a spatula and freeze them. If your freezer is big enough, freeze them right on the pans.

To assemble, remove your best layer from the freezer and dust it with powdered sugar. With a sharp knife, slice it into serving-size pieces (you’ll need to wipe the blade between cuts). Return it to the freezer. Remove the other two layers from the freezer and peel off the parchment from the bottom. Place the bottom layer on a fresh parchment strip. Spread on about an inch of the espresso whipped cream. Place the second layer on top, and spread on another inch of filling, spreading whipped cream all around the out surface. Lastly, remove the sliced top layer from the freezer. Gently free the slices from the parchment and place them on top of the cake.

Freeze the whole thing for at least four hours before slicing. Dust the top once again with powdered sugar. Use a very sharp knife, and slice straight down through the cake in a swift motion. Remove the slices to a serving platter and place the platter in the refrigerator. Slices will hold there for a full day before serving.

VARIATION: Two-layer cardinal slices can be made by simply stacking two layers on top of one another, then cutting the last layer in half and making another half “sandwich.” Or, to make a broader two-layer slice, use a pastry bag with no collar with a one-inch opening at the end, and pipe the meringue and ladyfinger batter onto two five-inch-wide parchment strips (instead of three three-inch-wide strips). Two-layer cardinal slices can be filled with espresso cream as well, or with a mixture of fresh raspberries and raspberry preserves…in which case there’s no need for all the freezing and filling.

Filed under:  Cardinal Slices, Pastry | 8 Comments