Vacherin glacé is a classic French frozen entremets traditionally combining layers of meringue, vanilla ice-cream and strawberry or raspberry sorbet, all covered in whipped cream. Later I’ll tell you more about vacherins, the pâtisserie where we first tried one and how I almost became an apprentice! For now suffice to say it’s very light and not too sweet and was my brother’s favourite cake when we were children visiting our relatives on the farm in France. Unlike my brother I’m not usually partial to ice-cream (yes, shoot me now) but sorbets are delightful. So this Ispahan vacherin is non-traditional with both raspberry and lychee-rose sorbets. It’s a very simple cake to adapt by including flavoured ice-creams of your choice, whether homemade or shop-bought. You can make the light meringue layers or even substitute with crushed shop-bought meringues! You see how easy it is to have your very own vacherin glacé. Finally, cover in whipped cream flavoured with vanilla extract and optional rose water. This is an amazing decadent and flexible frozen ice-cream treat for the summer: raspberry and lychee-rose sorbet meringue cake or more poetically, vacherin glacé Ispahan. Yum yum…
The raspberry sorbet’s adapted from the Meilleur du Pâtissier website. The lychee sorbet’s adapted from Hermé’s Ispahan book. The meringue’s adapted from a classic Roux brothers recipe. Assembling instructions and the whipping cream are adapted from Christophe Felder’s Pâtisserie book. I increased the quantity of ‘cream frosting’, added less sugar to the cream and replaced the kirsch cherry liqueur with a little rose water.
- Raspberry sorbet: make 48 hours before (20 mins work, 30 mins in the machine).
- French meringue discs: make the day before or 7-8 hours before assembling (20 mins work, 1hr 45 to 2 hrs baking, 4-5 hours cooling).
- Lychee sorbet: make on the same day as assembling if you have an ice-cream machine like mine that needs 24 hours in the freezer before using again (same timings as raspberry sorbet).
- Whipping cream and assembly: 10-20 mins work.
With shop-bought sorbet and ice-cream it’s 30-40 mins work and less if like some people you buy meringue nests and crush to make layers. For a deconstructed vacherin fill meringue nests with the ices then top with whipped cream.
Raspberry sorbet (makes about 300g/10.5oz)
- Syrup (makes about 130g)
- 60g/4 tablespoons caster/superfine sugar
- 20g/2 teaspoons liquid glucose
- 70g/ml mineral water
- Purée (makes about 200g/ml after passing through a sieve)
- 250g/8.8oz washed or frozen raspberries
- 25g/5 teaspoons caster/superfine sugar
- 1 tablespoon/15g freshly-squeezed lemon juice
For more detailed instructions and photos please see my raspberry sorbet recipe here.
Use an 18cm/7inch cake ring to draw two circles on baking paper. Line a 30cmx40cm baking tray with the paper (turn it over so you don’t get pencil marks on the meringue).
- 115-120g/ml egg whites (from 3 medium-large eggs)
- 105g/1/2 cup minus 1/2 tablespoon caster/superfine sugar (or golden caster sugar)
- 105g/3/4 cup plus 4 and 1/4 teaspoons icing/powdered sugar
Pipe 2 discs on the paper and some extra meringue fingers or kisses.
For more detailed instructions and photos please see my meringue discs recipe in the basics section.
- 280g/1 good cup cold lychee purée (from 300g/10.5oz + 5 drained lychees)
- 60g/ml cold mineral water
- 20g/4 teaspoons caster/superfine sugar
- 10g/2 tsps freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- Optional: 20g/2 tsps liquid glucose (will add next time to make the sorbet smoother)
- 10g/2 tsps lychee juice from the can
- 1/2 tsp rose water
- Drain and blend the cold lychees and store in the fridge.
- Bring the water, sugar, lemon juice and optional glucose to the boil. Pour into a large bowl and cool in the fridge.
- Add the lychee purée and optional rose water to the syrup and try to make a smooth purée with a barmix.
- Make sure it’s well chilled (place in the fridge again if necessary), switch on your ice-cream maker first then gradually pour the lychee mixture into the machine as per instructions.
- When the ingredients have churned and looks like a sorbet (in my ice-cream maker this takes around 30-40 minutes) pour into an airtight container and place in the freezer.
Assembly and whipped cream frosting
- 300g/10.5oz raspberry sorbet (or strawberry)
- 300g/10.5oz lychee sorbet (or vanilla ice-cream)
- 2 meringue discs
- Creme chantilly frosting: 350g/ml cold whipping cream (35%), 56g/1/4 cup caster/superfine sugar, 1/5 tsp pure vanilla extract (scant 1/4 tsp), optional: 1/5 tsp rose water (scant 1/4 tsp)
- Three or four drained lychees (stoned) and a handful fresh raspberries
- Cut the two meringue discs with your 18cm/7inch cake ring and leave one inside. Spread the raspberry sorbet over the disc. Spread the lychee sorbet on top. Lightly press the 2nd meringue disc on top (upside-down). Freeze from 30 minutes to 1-2 hours.
- After 30 mins to 2 hours, whisk the cream until soft peak then gradually whisk in the caster sugar then the vanilla and rose water, if using. If working in a hot environment place your bowl over another bowl of ice-water to keep the cream cool. You need the cream to be firm so it will hold the Saint-honoré tip pattern (with soft cream it’s very undefined)… but you mustn’t overwhisk or it becomes butter. Place the cream in the fridge while you prepare the cake.
- Blow-torch the sides of the cake ring all over to free the cake from the ring.
- Take the ring off carefully and use a long offset spatula to spread a first layer of whipped cream around the cake. Freeze 30 minutes.
- Cover with a second layer of cream and smooth with your offset spatula. You can see techniques for covering a cake and making lines at Sweet Style Ca’s website, like in the article Cake it Pretty: Easy Textured Buttercream Cakes. If your cream is firm enough you should be able to use the techniques and any of the designs to decorate your vacherin. Place the cake in the freezer whenever necessary to have a firm cream base you can work with.
- First make the lines on the sides of your cake. You can use a ‘plasterer’s scraper’ or a long serrated bread knife as I did (this is not ideal so my lines were a bit uneven).
- Then decorate the top using a Saint-Honoré nozzle if you want the design on my cake. I suggest you practise on some paper first (the piping was the hardest thing for me!). The triangle cut into the nozzle should face the side a little as in the photo. Sweep from the outside to the middle of the cake, tapering so the cream is less thick in the middle. This is the first time I’d done this pattern and it’s not perfect but with the middle covered in fruit it doesn’t look too bad. Here’s a youtube video called Sunny Delight that shows nice technique for this piping. If you prefer simply cover your cake in lots of stars, roses or twirls.
Top the middle with drained lychees and raspberries. And now you have a delightful Vacherin glacé! Woohoo!
Eating and storing your vacherin
Take out of the freezer 15-30 minutes before serving. This cake keeps in an airtight container in your freezer up to a month but to have it in peak condition eat within 1-2 weeks.
The first vacherin and how I almost became an apprentice
Down the hill from the farm in the sleepy little village of Salins-les-Bains in le Jura where my mum grew up, was the magic Pâtisserie Vauthier Crelier (now called Berthier) where the cakes were so amazing that when I was about 12 years old we enquired as to whether I could work there part-time or during the holidays! Sadly we discovered I’d need to become an apprentice working full-time for years with very little pay so we finally decided it was wiser for me to do school exams (aw). It was still tempting and this is my hommage to that wonderful pâtisserie where we first discovered le vacherin glacé.
About le vacherin
Vacherin is a cheese made from cow’s milk (vache is the French for ‘cow’). It’s a soft, rich, seasonal cheese made in Switzerland or France, usually in villages of the Jura region. It’s said the vacherin cake was so named because it ressembled the soft round yellow-white cheese, and glacé means ‘iced’ by the way. I found very little corroborated information about how or when this entremets was invented but apparently it originated in Lyon.
If you’d like to read a little about Hermé’s Ispahan flavours you can go to my Ispahan meringue nests recipe. It’s a magic combination and you just need to be careful not to overdo the rose water so it doesn’t overpower everything or remind you of soap.
The perfect dessert
You can make this delightful summer cake with Ispahan flavours or classic vanilla ice-cream with raspberry or strawberry sorbet. It’s naturally gluten-free and frozen so you can do that sensible diet thing of having a little portion every now and then! Or a big portion. A friend came round to help test it after climbing and we started with a small portion. Then we just had big portions and suddenly found only a third of the cake was left. Lol. In fact it’s a light refreshing treat perfect for dessert at a special meal where your guests have already eaten quite a bit. They would easily make space in their stomachs for this vacherin. So I’m sharing this cake with Jibberjabberuk’s Love Cake Garden Party and Free from Fridays hosted by Emma@Freefromfarmhouse. Do visit them to see some lovely treats and recipes.
And please have a little (or large) slice.
Bye for now sweet reader! Wishing you a cool week ahead. Happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x