Hazelnut Almond Meringue Cake (Dacquoise)

A dacquoise (dak-kwaz) is a stunning cake made with layers of almond and hazelnut meringue and whipped cream on a buttery biscuit base. The term dacquoise can also refer to the nut meringue layer itself itself and its name comes from the word dacquois, meaning ‘of Dax’, the town in Southwestern France where it was invented.

A particular form of the dacquoise is called marjolaine, popularized by French chef Fernand Point in his book “Ma Gastronomie”, considered by many to be the father of modern French cuisine. The book includes his recipe for marjolaine, which is long and rectangular and combines almond and hazelnut meringue layers with chocolate buttercream. The recipe here is a perfect mash-up of the traditional dacquoise cake with Chef Point’s award winning marjolaine.

Dacquoise- Hazelnut Almond Meringue Cake

For anybody who likes layers of contrasting flavors in a single dessert, this is it. Nutty meringue layers are sandwiched between silky smooth buttercream and covered with a bittersweet chocolate frosting complemented by crunchy nuts. It does take some effort and advanced planning. It is so worth it, though!
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French, Southwest France
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Cooling meringue: 6 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 10
Author: My Hungry Traveler

Equipment

  • Stand mixer with whisk attachment or electric hand mixer
  • Offset spatula
  • Food processor
  • 2 Baking pans lined with parchment paper
  • Wire whisk

Ingredients

  • cup Blanched, skinless raw hazelnuts
  • cup Blanched skinless raw almonds
  • cups Confectioners' sugar
  • tsp Kosher salt
  • 8 large Eggs, whites only at room temperature
  • cup Granulated sugar
  • Espresso buttercream (recipe follows)
  • Bittersweet chocolate ganache (recipe follows)
  • cup Whole skinless hazelnuts, toasted
  • ½ cup Sliced almonds, toasted

Espresso Buttercream

  • ¼ cup Water
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • cups Unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp Instant expresso
  • ¼ tsp Kosher salt

Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache

  • 16 oz Semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 cups Heavy cream

Instructions

  • Meringues: Heat oven to 225°F (110°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and draw three 8 inch circles on the parchment using an 8 inch plate or the bottom of a removable tart pan. Butter or spray the parchment.
  • In a food processor, grind hazelnuts until they are powdery but not a paste. Put into a medium bowl. Do the same with the almonds. Add to same bowl. Sift in confectioners' sugar and combine with the nuts. Add salt to bowl and mix well.
  • Put egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk on medium-low for 2 minutes.
  • Increase speed to medium and whisk until soft peaks form, another 2½ to 3 minutes. Gradually add in the granulated sugar and continue whisking at medium-high until medium-stiff peaks, another 1½ minutes. Remove bowl from stand mixer and gently fold the nut mixture into the egg whites ⅓ at a time with a rubber spatula. Divide egg white mixture between the three 8 inch circles on the parchment paper. Spread from middle-out. Bake in middle of oven until the circles are firm to the touch, 3 to 4 hours. Rotate pans hourly. Turn oven off and leave the circles in the closed oven for 6 hours or up-to 12 hours to slowly cool.
  • Assemble: Place one dacquoise on a flat cake plate. Carefully spread ½ the ganache (recipe below) evenly in a ½-inch layer over the bottom dacquoise. Press second dacquoise gently over the ganache layer to adhere. Add an equal layer of buttercream (recipe below) over that. Place the last dacquoise flat-side up and gently press it down on to the buttercream layer. With an offset spatula, spread remaining butter cream around the sides of the cake to fill in gaps and smooth the sides out. Smooth any remaining buttercream in a thin layer over the top. Place the cake in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving and up-to 2 days wrapped well. Cake can be made to this point 2 weeks in advance and frozen. Defrost overnight to use the next day.
  • Finish: Melt remaining ganache in a microwave for 45 seconds. Place cake on a wire rack over a baking tray. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and let it drip over the sides. With an offset spatula, smooth top and sides so that the dacquoise is completely covered in smooth dark chocolate. Press all the sliced almonds all around the sides of the cake. Decorate the top with whole hazelnuts. Serve sliced or cake may be placed in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 2 days before serving.

Expresso Buttercream

  • Place water and sugar in a small saucepan. Gently stir to combine. Over high heat, cook until thickened and around 240° on a candy thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk eggs and egg yolk on medium speed until pale and light, about 3 to 4 minutes. When water-sugar syrup reaches temp, carefully drizzle syrup down side of bowl still on medium speed. Whip another 7-8 minutes until mixture becomes fluffy. Add the softened butter in pieces and continue whipping for another 4-5 minutes. Add espresso powder and salt, and whip to combine. Use right away or store in airtight container for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. To use, remove from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Use a stand mixer with paddle attachment to bring it back to a creamy state.

Ganache

  • Chop the chocolate and put in a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until just before it reaches a boil. Small bubbles will begin to collect along the side of the saucepan. Pour hot cream over the chocolate pieces in the bowl and let sit for 30 seconds. Slowly whisk them together until they are combined and smooth. Put aside in an airtight container at room temperature or put in refrigerator for up to a week. Place on the counter a day before using.

Notes

  • Each component can be made in advance to make final assembly so much easier. Here’s a summary:
    • Dacquoise “disks” can be made the day before and left in the oven between 6 and 12 hours to cool.
    • Espresso Buttercream can be made ahead and refrigerated for 5 days.
    • Chocolate Ganache can be made ahead and refrigerated for 7 days. 
    • Whole cake may be completely assembled and stored in the refrigerator for 2 days before serving. It may also be frozen indefinitely and defrosted in the refrigerator a day in advance of serving. 

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