Published November 1, 2012. From Cook's Illustrated.
This multilayered showpiece of meringue and buttercream coated in ganache might just be the best dessert you’ll ever make—plus you can prepare it the day before.
You rarely see dacquoise anywhere but fancy patisseries or high-end restaurants—and with good reason: Making one is a project to rival all projects.
We wanted a dacquoise that was manageable at home and eliminated some of the more bothersome features. And after all the time and effort we’d be putting in, we didn’t want our dessert to just satisfy our guests; we wanted it to render them speechless.
We wanted our meringue component to be light and airy, so we used a modified version of the traditional method, in which sugar is added to whipped egg whites. Instead of slowly adding all of the sugar after the whites reached soft peaks, we added just half of the sugar between the soft- and stiff-peak stages and then folded in the remainder at the end with the ground nuts. The eggs whites formed a light, airy foam in just a few minutes, and once baked, the meringue had a crisp-delicate texture that was easy to slice.
With the meringue’s texture nailed down, we considered its shape. We knew a rectangular dacquoise would be easier to slice neatly than a round one. So we spread the meringue into one big rectangular piece, spritzed the top with water to prevent it from cooking faster than the bottom, and baked it. After it spent 90 minutes in the oven and the same amount of time drying—considerably less time than traditional recipes—we cut it into four even pieces using a serrated bread knife, a gentle scoring motion, and a ruler.
For the buttercream component, we settled on German-style, which is whipped together from butter and pastry cream, a simple custard made with egg yolks that doesn’t need to be temped with a thermometer. To boost its flavor, we included espresso powder and almond liqueur, which complemented the nutty meringue.
Finally, we moved on to the ganache. To make sure our dacquoise was bursting with chocolate flavor, we spread some on each layer of meringue as we were building it. That way, there was crisp, nutty meringue; rich buttercream; and silky ganache in every bite.list of recipes