Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Walnut Dacquoise ☺

Adapted from a recipe Julia Child. Source: Julia Child, Simone Beck. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2, p. 497 ff.

Walnut meringue filled with butter cream.

This is a wonderful recipe. This cake really melts in your mouth. Butter, nuts, chocolate, sugar. The recipe is complicated, but not difficult. You can prepare the pralin before you make the rest of the cake. Stage everything! Have all the ingredients, pans, and necessary cooking tools out and ready to go. Read the recipe several times before you make this.


Pralin aux Noix (Walnut Praline)

4 ounces walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp water

The Meringue

3 ounces (3/4 cup) ground, toasted walnuts
3 ounces (3/4 cup) ground, blanched almonds
1 cup extra-fine granulated sugar
1-1/2 tbsp cornstarch
6 egg whites at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 tbsp sugar
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Butter Cream

1 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup hot milk
12 - 14 ounces chilled, unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp kirsch, dark rum, or strong coffee

Walnut Praline Filling

3/4 butter cream recipe
1/2 walnut praline recipe

Chocolate Frosting

1/4 butter cream recipe
2 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted


  1. Read this recipe through a couple of times before you begin.
  2. Pralin aux Noix

  3. Toast the walnuts at 350°F for 8 to 12 minutes. Remove them from the oven when they have browned and are fragrant. Nuts burn easily. Be vigilant. Set toasted nuts aside.
  4. While the walnuts are toasting, lightly oil a flat bottom roasting pan or a rimmed cookie sheet. Set aside.
  5. Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and set over moderately high heat. Swirl pan slowly by its handle, but do not stir sugar with a spoon while it is coming to a boil. Continue swirling while the liquid boils and changes from cloudy to clear.
  6. Cover the pan and raise heat to high. Boil for several minutes until bubbles are thick and heavy. Uncover, and continue boiling, swirling gently until the syrup turns a nice caramel brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the toasted walnuts; immediately turn into oiled pan. When cold and hard, about 20 minutes, break into pieces, and coarsely grind up a half cupful at a time in an electric blender.
  7. The dacquoise uses half of the walnut praline recipe. Use the remaining praline for another recipe, or freeze it for up to three months.

    The Meringue

  8. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets, 14 x 16 inches. Sift flour all over the baking sheets, and knock off the excess flour. Make a template from cardboard for the cake shape (approximately an 8-inch circle or a 5 x 10-inch rectangle or equivalent measure. Use the template to mark the shape on the cookie sheets.
  9. Measure the walnuts, almonds, and sugar into a shallow bowl or pie plate. Work the nuts with your fingers to smooth or remove any lumps. Sift the cornstarch over the nut mixture, and mix in with a rubber spatula. Set aside. Assemble the pastry bag.
  10. Place the egg whites in a bowl and beat at a moderately low speed in an electric mixer for 1 to 2 minutes until they are foamy. Beat in the salt and the cream of tartar, and gradually increase the mixer speed to fast and beat until soft peaks form in about a minute. Gradually beat in the 3 tbsp sugar, and continue until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
  11. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the nut and sugar mixture over the egg whites. Rapidly rotate the bowl while cutting, folding, and blending. When almost blended, sprinkle on more of the mixture, rapidly fold in, and continue until all is used; reach all over bottom and sides of bowl with the final addition. The whole blending process should take less than a minute. Scoop the meringue into the pastry bag.
  12. Squeeze out a line of meringue the width of your thumb and 1/2 inch high all around the inner side of the line marked on yor baking sheets. Continue around until you have completely filled in the shape with meringue. Smooth the top of the meringue lightly with a spatula.
  13. Bake the meringues for about 40 minutes at 250°F. Set the baking sheets in the upper middle and lower middle levels of the oven. They will not puff up or change shape, but will color lightly during baking. They are done in 30 to 40 minutes, as soon as you can push them gently from the baking surface. As soon as they are done slip them off of the baking sheets onto a cake rack. They bend slightly whe warm, but crisp when they are cool. The meringues are fragile, but if they break you can easily repair them when you fill and frost the cake.
  14. The Butter Cream

  15. Make a creme anglaise as follows: gradually beat sugar into egg yolks and continue beating for several minutes until mixture is thick and pale yellow. In a thin stream of droplets, beat in the hot milk, and set the mixture over moderate heat. Stir slowly with a wooden spoon, reaching all over bottom of pan, for 4 or 5 minutes or until sauce thickens enough to film spoon with a creamy layer.
  16. Do not let the sauce come to a simmer. Cook only until sauce thickens. Immediately remove from heat and beat vigorously for 1 minute to cool slightly. Scrape the mixture into the bowl of your electric mixer.
  17. Cut the three sticks of chilled butter into 1/4-inch slices. Add a piece or two at a time, beating until the butter is absorbed. When all of the butter is added, the cream should be cool, smooth, and glossy. Beat in the vanilla and kirsch.
  18. If mixture turns grainy, soften rest of butter, and beat in successive tablespoons until butter cream smooths out.
  19. The Frosting and Filling

  20. Remove 1/4 of the butter cream to a small bowl. Stir the melted chocolate into it, and reserve for frosting the top of the cake.
  21. Stir 1/2 the praline into the remaining butter cream. This is the cake filling.
  22. Assembling the Cake

  23. Place one of the meringues on a rack. Spread 1/3 of the butter cream on the meringue. Cover with the second layer, and spread with 1/2 of the remaining filling. Top with the last meringue. Spread the remaining filling on the sides of the cake. Spread the chocolate frosting over the top layer. Press chopped toasted walnuts on the edge of the cake.
  24. Refrigerate the cake for at least two hours before serving.
  25. Notes:

    Meringues may be made ahead of time and frozen. The praline may also be made ahead of time and frozen.

Yield: 12 slices

Prep Time: 1:30

Cook time: 0:40

1 comment:

Capri said...

We have made this recipe a few times and it is delicious! We've had some trouble with the meringue sticking to the pan or parchment paper, particularly in the seams between the piped rows of meringue where a sticky syrup tends to seep out. We've experimented with longer meringue cooking and drying times with varied success. Just wondered if you have any tips? We've never found the meringue ready after 40 minutes of cooking.