I had a hard time finding the English or Chinese translations for "dacquoise" (pronounced da-kwaz). Basically, it is a meringue baked with ground nuts, such as almonds or hazelnuts, for an extended amount of time in a warm (250F)--not hot--oven. Usually it is left inside the oven to further dry out the meringue resulting a crisp texture. The aroma of almonds from the oven is irresistible! It is then layered with an expresso flavored buttercream and dark chocolate ganache. Both of them blend so well to make a delicious dacquoise!
It sounds complex to make but it really isn't difficult. However, it does take a bit of time and patience to prepare, so plan ahead. It can also be broken down into 2 days' work. It will be a great dessert to celebrate the New Year.
Happy New Year!
Recipe modified (I mainly reduced the amount of sugar) from Cook's Illustrated (make sure you watch the tutorial video too)
Ingredients to make a 10" x 3" x 3" log:
1 cup blanched and sliced almonds, toasted
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
150g/ 3/4 cup sugar
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
185g/ 3/4 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
50g/ 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp amaretto or rum
1 tbsp instant expresso powder
226g/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
Dark Chocolate Ganache:
170g bittersweet chocolate 60%, finely chopped
185g/3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp corn syrup
1 cup blanched sliced almonds, slightly toasted
Optional: 12 whole hazelnuts, toasted and skinned, or edible gold leaf
For the meringue:
1) Preheat oven to 250F. Draw a 13" x 11" inch rectangle on a piece of parchment paper. Put it on the back of a baking sheet, ink side down.
2) Grind almonds, cornstarch and salt in a food processor for about 15-20 seconds. Add 75g sugar and pulse 2 times to combine.
3) Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks are formed. Add another 75g sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
4) Fold the nuts mixture to the stiff egg whites in 2 additions.
5) Spread the meringue evenly on the prepared parchment paper. Bake for 90 minutes. Turn off the oven and let it cool off inside the oven for another 90 minutes. Do not open the oven door for the entire time.
*meringue can be prepared a day ahead. After cooling, wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Keep in room temperature.
For the buttercream:
1) Whisk yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt in a bowl until blended.
2) Heat milk until simmering. Temper the yolk mixture by pouring in the hot milk with constant stirring.
3) Pour the mixture back to the pot and heat until it bubbles, with constant stirring.
4) Put a plastic wrap tightly on the surface and let it cool to room temperature. Refrigerate.
*pastry cream can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
5) Mix espresso with rum or amaretto in a small bowl and set aside.
6) Warm up the pastry cream to room temperature.
7) Beat room temperature butter for 3-4 minutes until smooth and fluffy. Add pastry cream in 3 additions. Scrape the bowl often. Add the expresso mixture and beat for 5 minutes until it is fluffy and creamy.
For the ganache:
1) Bring heavy cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Pour it to the chocolate and let it stand for a minute. Mix until it is melted and homogenous.
1) Carefully trim the edges of the meringue and cut into 4 equal pieces, 10X3 inches.
2) Spread ganache evenly onto 3 pieces. Spread buttercream onto 1 piece.
3) Put the piece with the buttercream on a rack. Lay one of the ganache layers onto it, ganache side down. Spread buttercream on top.
4) Layer another meringue on top, also ganache side down. Spread buttercream on top. Repeat with the third.
5) Spread the rest of buttercream on all the surfaces of the log. Seal in the gaps. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
6) Reheat the ganache to a pourable state. Put the rack on a tray to catch the dripping. Pour the ganache onto the log to glaze.
7) Put the sliced almonds on the sides and hazelnuts on top or gold leaf on top for decoration.
8) Refrigerate to set, about an hour. Serve within 24 hours.