I have been wanting to make a Dacquoise for such a long time. Almond or hazelnut meringue layers filled with whipped cream or French buttercream sounds like my type of dessert. I have had a slice of this torte before and found the crispy meringue such a surprise. Christmas is definitely the perfect excuse to attempt this decadent and sumptuous torte.
My recipe has been adapted from a traditional Dacquoise with French coffee buttercream, chocolate ganache and hazelnut praline from the BBC website. It sounds amazing, but on a hot Australian Christmas Day, an overly sweet or rich dessert is the last thing you want to have.
For the meringue
- 250g/9oz blanched hazelnuts
- 300g/10½oz caster sugar (100g to mix with the hazelnuts and 200g to add to the egg whites)
- 25g/1oz cornflour
- 6 large free-range egg whites
- pinch salt
In a food processor or similar appliance, grind the hazelnuts into medium to fine grounds. Roast the ground hazelnut in a moderate oven (180C/350F) for 10 minutes until golden brown. Stir the grounds around a couple of times so that all the nuts are equally roasted. Remove from the oven and mix through 100g of the caster sugar. Let it cool completely.
Reduce the oven temperature to 150C/300F.
Making the meringue is very similar to the pavlova I made a couple of weeks ago (Nectarine and Raspberry Pavlova). Separate the egg yolks from the whites and on a medium speed whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until frothy. Add the sugar one tablespoon at a time until the sugar has completely dissolved. Slowly add the cornflour. Your egg whites should be glossy and firm. You can test whether the sugar has completely dissolved by rubbing a bit between two fingers. If it is still grainy you need to keep whisking; if it’s smooth, you’re done. Stir through the ground hazelnuts gently.
On three squares of baking paper, draw a 22cm (9in) diameter circle. I used a cake tin as a template. Place them on baking trays.
You could separate the egg white mixture into three batches and fill in your drawn circles with a spatula, but you may not get the same thickness for each meringue layer. I therefore chose to use a piping bag to pipe out the mix. Now I hate using piping bags, cause I always manage to make a mess, but as it’s Christmas…
Surprisingly I didn’t make too much of a mess of things 😉
Bake the meringue layers for one hour. Turn off the oven but leave the door slightly ajar to cool down and harden. Leave them in the oven to cool for at least an hour.
The beauty of this dessert is that you can bake the meringue layers a few days in advance and store them in an air tight container until you need them. I made the meringue layers the day beforehand and assembled the torte a few hours before serving.
For the filling, I whipped up 600ml of whipping cream and spread one-third over the first layer of meringue. I didn’t add any extra sugar to the cream as the meringue is already very sweet. Repeat for the next two layers. I also dabbed a little bit of cream on the serving dish so that the cake didn’t slide around.
I decorated the top with chocolate coated cherries (fresh cherries are in season at the moment), Ferraro Rocher’s and roughly chopped roasted hazelnuts. But you could decorate with any flavours you like. An orange and chocolate version would be yummy too.
When serving, it’s a good idea to cut this torte with a serrated knife as the meringue is hard, though the cream will soften it up a bit.
When I make this again, I might also add a splash of liqueur, such as kirsch, and a thin layer of chocolate ganache to give it extra depth. This torte was lovely and light and perfect after eating a big Christmas dinner. It also would be a perfect special cake for a grown up birthday, or for a special someone on Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!