I usualy try to keep my posts consise, short, but this one requires a lot of explanation so in advance let me apologize. This was quite an ordeal, the cake did not turn out exactly like I wanted, there were a few bumps in the road, as a matter of fact I had to keep changing things as I went along. The fillings were a disaster, I originally had the idea to use a Mocha Mousse as one of the fillings which sounds good in theory, but in practice not so much. When I put the mousse on the bottom layer and placed another layer on top of it and gently pressed down it oozed out all over the sides, it was not firm enough. The dacquoise although they feel firm in reality are fragile, very fragile. The French Buttercream was a disaster. I beat the egg yolks until tripled in volume and were thick and light in color. I brought the sugar syrup to 265 which is really past the hard ball stage on the thermometer, with the mixer running drizzled the hot syrup down the side of the bowl as directed, two problems with this 1. the sugar syrup when it hits the side of the bowl hardens so I moved it away from the side of the bowl and 2. the beater flung hardened sugar strands everywhere. OMG, it was a mess. I managed to make it adding the butter in pieces until combined. I had sugar candy stuck on the side of the bowl and sugar strands wound around the whisk from when the syrup hit it. Because the syrup was hard ball stage the buttercream was very stiff, which I guess is a good thing because it stays put unlike the mousse. Last minute I also made a buttercream recipe I saw on Food52 from Merrill Stubbs. It is a quick and easy version of a French buttercream using egg yolks, butter, powdered sugar and flavoring of your choice. It takes about 10 minutes to make is silky and thick and really a great frosting or filling. This went in as a filling, it wasn’t quite enough for a thick layer of filling but at this point it was ok. To cover up all the imperfections I frosted with the Chantilly but used my recipe for stabilized whipped cream frosting.
I tried the recipe from Saveur for the Dacquoise and failed pretty badly, not exactly sure what happened. The batter was runny, the dacquoise were like thin crisp mishapen sugar cookies. I know there is supposed to be a crispness but this was more cookie like. IMHO I think there is too much sugar in the recipe. It’s also possible I over processed the almonds and sugar. The batter spread and didn’t look anything like the photo’s (sorry no photo’s) and video’s I’ve seen of how to make Dacquoise and certainly didn’t look like the one in the Saveur video (the video is included in the link above). Humph… I decided to search for another recipe and found one from Fine Cooking that looked good. It seemed pretty simple, the proportion of the ingredients sounded right and loved that it used hazelnuts and almonds (love hazelnuts).
misshapen, flat and really crisp first attempt
Second attempt, instead of rounds I made a rectanglar cake. The recipe from Fine Cooking is wonderful, the batter is perfect, holds it’s shape when piped onto the baking sheet, I feel like this will be a success. The batter is super easy, and quick to put together. I have actually become quite good now at the dacquoise. Because one of the layers bit the dust, I quickly made a half a recipe which I can now make without even looking at the recipe and put it on top.
Perfect batter, ready for the long bake
From Fine Cooking
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts
1/2 cup toasted almonds
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
6 egg whites
1/3 cup granulated sugar
7 large egg yolks (about 1/2 cup)
12 oz- 3 sticks usalted butter softenend
2/3 cup strong coffee
1 cup (7 1/2 oz) sugar
2 cups heavy cream divided
2 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Recipe on Food52 by Merrill Stubbs
6 oz soft unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup confectioners or powdered sugar
1 tbs vanilla extract
Put all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until thick, silky and spreadable. Thats it, so easy!!
Pre heat oven to 225 degree’s and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Draw three 10×3 rectangles onto parchment paper, turn over and place on sheet pan spray with cooking spray, butter or oil and set aside.
Add the hazelnuts to food processor and pulse just until it is a fine powder, no longer otherwise it will turn to paste. Next pulse the almonds the same way. Place the nut flour in mixing bowl and sift the powdered sugar over and add the salt. Stir with rubber spatula to combine.
In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachement beat the egg whites for 3-4 minutes until there are soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar in 3 additions beating well after each addition and the egg whites are thick and glossy and hold a stiff peak.
Sprinkle the nut mixture on top and gently fold into the meringue until combined. The consistency will be thick and gooey. You can either use a piping bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip or spread the batter in the rectangles 3 inches apart as they will expand. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 2- 3 hours or until they are firm to the touch. Turn off the oven and let them sit with oven door closed for 6 or more hours. NOTE: Although the recipe does not say to, I rotated the pans every now and then to ensure even browning. I used 2 sheet pans because I was afraid they would run (they didn’t) and the pan on the lower rack browned more quickly. Also the dacquoise were done at just slightly over 2 hours, so I turned off the oven and let them sit for about 6 hours. After turning off the oven I waited about 20 minutes and then gently loosed them. Believe me, it helped greasing the parchment they gave way easily and there was no sticking.
In a high sided saucepan over medium heat, add the coffee and sugar, set a candy or deep fry thermometer in the pan and cook until it reaches 265 degrees.
Meanwhile in the clean bowl of a stand mixer whip the egg yolks until tripled in volume and the color has lightened significantly, approximately 8 minutes.
Once the syrup has reached the temperature, remove and slowly pour the mixture into the yolks, whisking on medium low speed. Continue to run the mixer for 20-30 minutes, letting it cool completely. Once fully cooled, add the butter one tbs at a time, whisking until fully incorporated after each addition. The buttercream will thicken noticeably when all the butter has been fully incorporated.
To a small saucepan add 1/2 cup cream, whisk in the confectioners sugar and corn starch. Cook on medium heat until the mixture thickens. Immediately remove from the heat, scrape into a bowl and set aside, stirring frequently until cooled completely.
Place 1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream in mixing bowl and start beating using either whisk attachment on your stand mixer or hand held is fine also, add the cream cornstarch mixture and flavoring of your choice, continue to beat until thick and stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.
The layers were not even at all, some were smaller, some larger, there was some overhang and the layer that had the failed mousse attempt was cracked and broken. Dacquoise is very fragile and does well when filled and covered and refrigerated overnight or longer. Because the layers were uneven in size I trimmed them with kitchen shears as a knife just doesn’t cut it. The pieces and crumbs I pressed into the bottom layer that had some canyon size gaps, mixing with a little of buttercream from the sides of the cake. Talk about kitchen hacks, this cake was hacked every step of the way.
Will I ever make this again, maybe. The perfectionist in me wants to keep making it until I get it right but it literally was hours and days of work. The dacquoise I have down pat and it’s really not hard. I don’t think I will ever make the French buttercream again, it’s just not worth the effort and the results did not knock my socks off. I really like Merrill’s shortcut version of a French Buttercream, it tastes almost exactly like it, it’s fool proof, quick and easy. All in all I actually loved the challenge, it didn’t matter that it was a partial fail, I learned a lot and made something with a fair degree of difficulty and it was edible, I learned what to do and what not to do, what works and what doesn’t. Because of that I view this as a success for the simple fact that I did it! Tasting it though, it did kind of knock my socks off, the cake is delicious, the dacquoise retained its crunch kind of a melt in your mouth crunch and I am really glad I used hazelnuts. Ok maybe I will make it again.
Selected by feeding everyone’s names into Random.org the winners of the cookbooks are and Annie@Give me meatloaf and Teagan@Teagans Books. Congratulations to you both. Watch for an email, I will need your mailing address so we can get those books out to you asap.