Layers of rich French coffee buttercream and bittersweet chocolate ganache sandwiched between baked chocolate almond meringues make for a unique, decadent dessert, worth the effort and time required. Dacquoise refers to both the nut meringues that create the dessert as well as the finished dessert itself. They are traditionally made with a mixture of hazelnut and almonds, but I liked the more straightforward flavor of using one type of nut. I typically make the dacquoise and ganache the night before assembly since they both need time to rest. Reserve the yolks leftover from the dacquoise recipe to make the coffee buttercream, so nothing goes to waste.
Makes one 9” rectangular cake, serves 10 to 12
Chocolate Almond Dacquoise:
- 6 large (180 grams) egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 cup (150 grams) whole raw almonds
- 1/4 cup (21 grams) cocoa powder
Bittersweet Chocolate Ganache:
- 8 ounces (227 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup (238 grams) heavy cream
French Coffee Buttercream:
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso granules
- 5 tablespoons hot water, divided
- ¾ cup (149 grams) granulated sugar
- 6 (112 grams) egg yolks
- 20 tablespoons (282 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
For decoration, optional:
- 1 cup (150 grams) blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
Make the Dacquoise:
- Preheat the oven to 225ºF. Outline four 3×9” rectangles on parchment paper, flip so the pen marks are on the bottom of parchment, and line 2 half sheet pans (2 rectangles on each sheet). Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt and begin to whip on medium speed until foamy. In a slow steady stream, add the sugar and then increase the speed to high until glossy firm peaks form.
- While the eggs are whipping, pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely ground and add the cocoa powder in the last few pulses to combine.
- When eggs are at firm peaks, gently fold in the almond mixture until no white streaks are left. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch tip with the mixture and pipe within the rectangle outlines.
- Bake the dacquoise in the oven for 2 ½ hours or until firm to the touch. Turn off the oven and let the dacquoise sit in the oven overnight until ready to use, 6 to 12 hours.
Make the Ganache:
- Place chocolate in the bowl of an electric mixer and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil over medium high heat. Once it is at a boil, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for a minute and then whisk to combine, working from the center outward.
- Set the mixture aside to cool and set at room temperature.
Make the Buttercream:
- Dissolve the espresso in one tablespoon of hot water. Set aside to cool.
- Combine sugar and the rest of the water in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- In the meantime, in a bowl of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until thick and foamy.
- Once the sugar mixture starts to boil, clip a candy thermometer to the side and cook sugar mixture until it reaches 238°F and immediately remove from heat.
- Turn the mixer to low and slowly add the sugar syrup to the eggs, drizzling towards the side of the bowl to avoid hitting the whisk. Once combined, turn the mixer up to high and whip until the mixture has cooled to room temperature.
- Reduce the mixer to medium speed and add the butter one to two tablespoons at a time, allowing it to incorporate before adding the next portion. Add the espresso mixture and vanilla and then increase the mixer to medium-high and beat until buttercream is smooth and creamy, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Use immediately.
Assemble the Dacquoise Cake:
- Place one cooled dacquoise layer on a slightly wider cake board and spread with approximately a third of the buttercream.
- Top the buttercream with another dacquoise layer, this time upside down to create a flat surface and top with approximately half of the ganache.
- Layer another upside down dacquoise and another third of the buttercream before adding the last dacquoise upside down. Chill in the refrigerator to set and make it easier to finish decorating.
- Once set, cover the top with some of the remaining buttercream and cover the sides with the remaining ganache. If desired, cover the sides with chopped almonds and press to adhere to the ganache and pipe the remaining buttercream in a decorative pattern. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Bring the cake back to room temperature before serving.