FOR THE MERINGUES:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/3 cups finely ground hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups finely ground almonds
9 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
FOR THE GANACHE:
1 cup heavy cream
3 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
FOR THE BUTTERCREAM:
2 cups granulated sugar
5 egg whites, room temperature
1 lb. unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
3 tbsp. coffee extract
2 cups sliced almonds, toasted
1. For the meringues: Preheat oven to 250°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and draw three 8'' circles on paper. Sift together powdered sugar, hazelnuts, and almonds into a medium bowl, pushing lumps through sieve, then set aside. Put egg whites in the clean bowl of a standing mixer and whisk on medium-low speed for 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and whisk whites to soft peaks, about 2 1/2 minutes. Gradually add sugar while continuing to whisk, then increase speed to medium-high and whisk until whites form medium-stiff peaks, about 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer whites to a large bowl and carefully fold in 1/3 of nut mixture at a time with a rubber spatula. Divide meringue between parchment circles and gently spread out evenly. Bake in middle of oven, rotating positions hourly, for 4 hours. Allow to cool.
2. For the ganache: Heat cream in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat, add milk and bittersweet chocolates, and let sit for 1 minute. Whisk until smooth and set aside until thick enough to spread.
3. For the buttercream: Combine 1/3 cup water and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it reaches 250° on a candy thermometer. Put egg whites in the clean bowl of a standing mixer and whisk on medium-low speed for 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium and whisk whites to soft peaks, about 1 1/2 minutes. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar while continuing to whisk, then increase speed to medium-high and whisk until whites form stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Carefully pour syrup into whites, whisking until cool, about 10 minutes. Add butter, bit by bit, whisking constantly until buttercream is shiny and fluffy, about 8 minutes. (Mixture may curdle, but will eventually come together.) Whisk in coffee extract and set aside.
4. To assemble: Spread 1/3 of buttercream over each of 2 meringues. Spread ganache over remaining meringue. Layer meringues, placing the one with ganache in the middle. Spread remaining buttercream on sides of cake, then cover cake with almonds and refrigerate at least 5 hours. Before serving, dust cake with powdered sugar, if you like.
Dacquoise from the Ground Up
Don't be put off by the lengthy recipe. Dacquoise is as easy to make as a sponge cake—and far more impressive.
1. Lay meringues out on a flat surface. Carefully spread one-third of buttercream over each of two meringues with an offset metal spatula.
2. Spread all of the ganache over remaining meringue. Layer meringues on top of each other.
3. Placing the one with ganache in the middle. Spread remaining buttercream on sides of cake, filling in any gaps so the surfaces are smooth.
4. Cover cake with toasted almond slices and refrigerate. The dacquoise can be eaten after a few hours, but we prefer it the next day, when the meringues have had time to really soften.
Source: Saveur Issue #34, Andrew Shotts, former pastry chef for the now closed La Côte Basque's, helped adapt this recipe.
Prepared by: Lena for the December 2009 meeting.