"This time of year can be a struggle between wanting to do something special or something easy to create less stress. This dessert ticks both boxes as the Hazelnut Meringue can be made in 2-3 days in advance of assembly, and can be assembled a night, even two nights before it’s needed, as long as its tightly wrapped in cling film and refrigerated," said Mercy Fenton, in her weekly column.
"The rich Dacquoise with white chocolate espresso French buttercream is luxurious yet light enough for a festive dessert, serve simply with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. It looks great - go as simple or fancy with the decorations as you want. A number of steps is required but each is manageable."
225gr toasted hazelnuts
10gr corn flour
½ tsp salt
5 free range egg whites
¼ plus 1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
- Pre-heat oven to 125C.
- Lightly grease a 15-x12inch shallow baking tin with a sheet of parchment paper, allowing small excess above the sides of the tin.
- Process hazelnuts, cornstarch and salt in food processor until nuts are finely ground, 15-20 seconds.
- Add 100gr cup sugar and pulse to combine, 1 to 2 pulses.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-high speed for about a minute, when soft and fluffy start adding the remaining sugar a spoon at a time until all the sugar is gone, continue to whisk until glossy, stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.
- Fold nut mixture into egg whites in two batches.
- Using a step palette knife, spread meringue evenly over the pre-lined tin.
- Bake for 1-½ hours.
- Turn off oven and allow meringue to cool inside for another 1½ hours. (Do not open oven during baking and cooling.)
- Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. (Cooled meringue can be kept at room temperature, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to two days.)
5 free range egg yolks
227gr unsalted butter - at room temperature, cut in small cubes
1 tsp vanilla essence
60gr white chocolate drops melted, at room temperature
4 tsp instant coffee powder
- Put egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, using balloon attachment whisk until thick and foamy.
- While yolks are whisking, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Heat over low heat while stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, cooking until it reaches 240F - softball.
- Once it reaches 240F, slowly drizzle hot syrup into bowl with yolks. Continue mixing until the bottom of the bowl is cool to the touch and the yolk mixture has cooled to room temperature.
- Add in butter one cube at a time, allowing each piece to incorporate before adding the next.
- Add vanilla and salt and coffee, continue mixing until buttercream is smooth and creamy. (About 5 minutes.)
- Keep at room temperature until needed.
210gr 53% chocolate drops
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 ½ tsp fine instant coffee powder
- lace chocolate in heatproof bowl.
- Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat.
- Pour cream mixture over chocolate and let stand for 1 minute.
- Stir mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool, about 5 minutes.
- Keep back just over 1/3 of the ganache for coating the finished loaf.
- To assemble
- Carefully invert the tray of meringue and peel off parchment.
- Place on chopping board, use a serrated knife and a gentle repeated scoring motion, and trim edges of meringue to form 12 by 10-inch rectangle.
- Discard trimmings. Mark the slab so you have 4 even lengths - use a ruler for accuracy.
- Using serrated knife, cut by scoring until meringue is fully cut through. Repeat until you have four 10 by 3-inch rectangles.
- Place the 3 rectangles on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Using offset spatula, spread 1/3 of the remaining ganache evenly over surface of each meringue. Refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 15 minutes.
- Using offset spatula, spread top of remaining rectangle with 1/4 of the buttercream; place on wire rack with ganache-coated meringues.
- Invert 1 ganache-coated meringue, place on top of buttercream, and press gently to level.
- Repeat, spreading meringue with 1/4 of buttercream and topping with inverted ganache-coated meringue. Spread top with buttercream.
- Invert final ganache-coated strip on top of cake.
- Spread half of remaining buttercream to lightly coat sides of cake, then use remaining buttercream to coat top of cake.
- Smooth until cake is evenly coated and smooth.
- Refrigerate until buttercream is firm, about 2 hours. (Once buttercream is firm, assembled cake may be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)
- Warm remaining ganache in heatproof bowl set over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until mixture is very fluid but definitely not hot.
- Put assembled cake on wire rack, over a tray, pour ganache over top of cake. Using offset spatula, spread ganache in thin, even layer over top of cake, letting excess flow down sides. Spread ganache over sides.
- Decorate sides with toasted slivered almonds, and top with chocolate curls, chocolate coated nuts, or coffee beans.
- Keep chilled but remove from fridge at least one hour before serving.
- Cut with a hot dry serrated knife and serve with whipped cream.