Week 143: Marjolaine

It is dessert week on the Great British Bake Off. And for the first time, I was so intrigued by a recipe I just can’t wait to try it! This is the first time I made dacquoise and to be honest, I am not entirely sure how it should taste. According to Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, It should be light and crunchy, so I don’t think I was that far off.

I honestly have to give it to the contestant for being able to produce this within 3 hours. I took me a good part of 5 hours, from start to end.

Makes one 12″ x 4″ rectangular cake

For the dacquoise

125g blanched almonds

125g blanched hazelnuts

300g fine granulated sugar

25g cornstarch

240g egg whites

1) Preheat convection oven to 160C. 

2) Tip the almonds and hazelnuts into the bowl of food processor and pulse until finely ground. 

3) Finely grind almonds and hazelnuts using a food processor then spread the ground nuts out in a layer on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes until golden-brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

4) Once ground nuts have cooled, stir in 100g of sugar and cornstarch.

5) Reduce the oven temperature to 130C fan. And line two 13″ x 9″ baking trays with parchment paper.

6) Pour the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until the egg whites are frothy. Increase the speed and add the remaining sugar, a spoonful at a time, to make a stiff, glossy meringue.

7) Gently fold the toasted nut mixture through the meringue.

8) Divide the meringue equally between the prepared baking trays and spread out evenly using a palette knife. Bake for 45–60 minutes, until light golden-brown and firm to touch. Turn off the oven and open the oven door so it is just ajar, then leave the dacquoise inside until completely cool.

9) Remove from the oven and carefully invert onto a sheet of baking parchment. Carefully remove the baking parchment from the bottom of the meringues.

For the chocolate ganache

270g heavy cream

360g dark chocolate couverture, >70% cocoa solids, broken into pieces

1) Pour the cream into a pan and heat until just simmering. 

2) Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour over the cream. 

3) Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Leave to cool and then chill the ganache until thick enough to spread and pipe.

For the praline

300g granulated sugar

100g blanched almonds

1) Line a baking tray with baking paper. 

2) Combine sugar and 100g water in a pan over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

3) Increase the heat and boil, without stirring, until the caramel turns golden-brown. 

4) Toast the almonds in a dry pan until golden-brown. 

5) Remove sugar syrup from the heat and add the almonds, stir well and tip onto the prepared tray. Leave to cool. 

6) Break up the praline into pieces and blend to a fine powder in a food processor.

For the buttercream

225g fine granulated sugar

pinch cream of tartar

8 egg yolks

1 tsp fleur de sel

350g unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into pieces

1) Pour 5 tablespoons water into a heavy-based pan with the sugar and cream of tartar. Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until it reaches 115C on a sugar thermometer. 

2) Pour the yolks and fleur de sel into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. With the mixer running on medium speed, gradually pour in the sugar syrup avoiding the whisk. 

3) Continue whisking for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is thick and completely cool. 

4) Gradually add the butter bit by bit, whisking continuously. 

5) Fold in the praline powder and chill until needed.

To assemble

150g flaked almonds

50g hazelnuts, chopped

50g pistachios, slivered

1) Toast the almonds and hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until golden-brown. 

2) Using a very sharp knife, cut the dacquoise sheets in half lengthways so you have four sheets each measuring 12″ x 4″. 

3) Place one sheet of meringue on a serving plate and spread with one quarter of the buttercream. Top with a second sheet of meringue and spread with one third of the ganache. Top with a third sheet of meringue and spread with another quarter of the buttercream. Top with final sheet of meringue.

4) Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides and press the toasted flaked almonds onto the sides of the gateau. 

5) Spoon the remaining ganache into a piping bag fitted with a small star nozzle. Pipe the chocolate ganache around the top edge of the cake and in five diagonal lines, across the top of the cake. 

6) Fill the gaps between the diagonal piped lines with alternating hazelnuts and pistachios.

This is a HUGE cake, and I am not kidding. Recipe says feed 10 to 12, but I reckon it is enough to feed a small village. It is a real treat for nut lovers though, as the cake was loaded with a combination of almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios! For now, please excuse me as I induce myself in a bout of nut and sugar coma.

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