Danish Fragilité Cake


You’ve probably tasted Sarah Bernhardt cookies, which are widely beloved across Scandinavia and abroad. And Johannes Steen, the same pastry chef in Copenhagen who created the Sarah Bernhardt cookie, also developed a wonderful cake: fragilité cake.

Fragilité cake has layers of hazelnut meringue filled with a thick coffee cream. The meringue top is slightly crispy with a chewy bottom, and the coffee cream complements the hazelnuts perfectly. And because fragilité cake is intentionally imperfect, it’s quite easy to make.

I think of fragilité cake as a more adult (because of its coffee flavor) and laidback (because of its cracked meringue layers) version of Sarah Bernhardt cookies. If you like Sarah Bernhardt cookies and you like coffee, I think you will love fragilité cake! And I mean, who doesn’t love Sarah Bernhardt cookies? I’ve shared my Sarah Bernhardt cookie recipe here, and my recipe for Sarah Bernhardt cookies with yellow cream here.

Danish fragilité cake


To avoid lumps I run the powdered sugar through a strainer before adding them to the egg whites.

sifting powdered sugar into egg whites

Make sure you beat the egg whites and sugar until you get stiff peaks that don’t melt back down. This can take 5 – 10 minutes with a hand mixer. Then fold in the hazelnuts very carefully.

whipped egg whites

You can measure out a rectangle on the baking paper, or simply eyeball it (the measurements don’t have to be perfect).

spreading fragilite cake batter on baking sheet

I start making the coffee cream as soon as the meringue goes into the oven so that the egg cream mixture has plenty of time to cool before I add the butter. The egg cream and butter have to be the same temperature when you mix them together, otherwise the butter will melt and the coffee cream will be too thin.

If you don’t like coffee you can add a tablespoon of cocoa or a teaspoon of vanilla to the cream instead of the coffee.

making coffee cream for fragilite cake

As its name suggests, the fragilité cake meringue can be quite fragile. The center might stick to the baking paper after baking, but you should be able to get it off if you peel the baking paper off very slowly. And don’t worry if the meringue cracks or breaks – the coffee cream filling will glue it all back together. Fragilité cake is meant to have cracks, so it’s not a problem at all if it looks a bit messy. It will also crack a bit as you slice it.

fragilite cake crust
spreading coffee cream on fragilité cake

Fragilité cake is a lot easier to slice into pieces when frozen, so leave it in the freezer for about an hour before cutting it with a very sharp knife (I mostly use the tip to cut). This way the coffee cream won’t spill out the sides of the cake when you cut it. The cake will defrost again quickly. You can dust the cake with powdered sugar and add some sliced hazelnuts on top, if you like.

eating a piece of Danish fragilité cake

I think fragilité cake tastes even better the next day! I store it in the fridge covered in plastic wrap.

You can switch the recipe from US measurements to metric by clicking from “US Customary” to “Metric” under Ingredients.

Danish fragilité cake

Danish Fragilité Cake

Fragilité cake has layers of hazelnut meringue filled with a thick coffee cream.
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Danish
Keyword: coffee, hazelnut, meringue
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Resting Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 12
Author: Silvia


  • electric hand mixer
  • food processor


Hazelnut Base

  • 3/4 cup hazelnuts
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 and 2/3 cups powdered sugar

Coffee Cream

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 200 ml heavy cream
  • 3 tbsp strongly brewed coffee
  • 9 tbsp butter (room temperature)


  • powdered sugar


Hazelnut Base

  • Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C) and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  • Chop the almonds in a food processor. In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to whisk the egg whites and vinegar until fluffy. Sift in the powdered sugar and continue to whisk into stiff peaks. Carefully fold in the chopped hazelnuts.
  • Spread the mixture in a rectangle (15×8 inches, 40×20 cm) across the baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack (with the baking paper attached).

Coffee Cream

  • Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, cocoa, and flour together in a bowl.
  • Head the cream in a saucepan over medium/high heat. Once the cream bubbles, stir in the coffee and remove from heat. Pour the cream into the bowl with the egg yolk mixture, whisking the entire time.
  • Continue whisking and pour the entire mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Continue whisking until the mixture thickens and then whisk for one more minute and remove from the heat.
  • Once the coffee cream has cooled to room temperature (the cream and butter must be the same temperature), stir in the butter and mix until smooth.


  • Carefully peel the baking paper off the meringue base. Cut the base into three equal sections. Spread half of the coffee cream on top of one part, add another meringue piece on top, and spread the rest of the coffee cream on top. Place the final meringue piece on top.
  • Place the cake in the freezer for one hour.
  • Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar and use a sharp knife to slice the cake into small squares. To store, cover in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge.


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