Saturday, February 28, 2009

Raspberry Dacquoise

And one last Valentine's Day dessert for the month of Love: a Raspberry Dacquoise. I didn't even know what a dacquoise was until last month, when I read this recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini (still the food blog that I most faithfully read, although David Lebovitz's chocolate tempering post recently caused me to friend him on Facebook and become one of his 3000 friends, no joke). I'm not entirely sure that I do know what a dacquoise is even after having made one, but I'd like to think I made it successfully since I enjoyed eating it, as did my guests.

There seem to be many variations on the dacquoise riff, but here's how this one goes: you make a very thin cake of ground hazelnuts*, almonds, powdered sugar, and stiffly whipped egg whites. The cake gets cut out in the shape of a pastry mold** (another thing whose existence this recipe brought to my attention). You make a cream of whipped heavy cream, strained Greek yogurt, a tad of sugar, and a touch of vanilla, all thickened by gelatin. The cream gets spread into the pastry mold on top of the bottom layer of cake, and raspberries are lined inside the mold, around the edges and through the middle. Cream fills up the remaining mold space, leaving just enough room at the top for the top layer of cake. After some chilling time, you make some sort of stencil for the top, dust it with powdered sugar, and serve it to the rejoicing of your guests.

This is probably one of the most sophisticated and involved desserts I've ever made, and it was more than worth the purchase of the pastry mold and time required to make it. Now to find more dacquoise entremets to make, and more uses for the pastry mold!

*Whole Foods has ground hazelnuts, but they are $11.99 for 14 oz. I bought 16 oz. of whole hazelnuts at Trader Joe's and ground them myself in the food processor, and that 16 oz. was less than $5. I suggest you compare before buying!
**Sur La Table was the only store where I could find the pastry mold without going to a speciality or professional store. It was also called a square ring or mold, and at Sur La Table they were hung from the ceiling - I was lucky to find a salesperson who remembered they were there, after I had repeated the same description to them several times. Since I had never seen a mold in person, this was somewhat difficult! I recommend exploring your options online prior to purchasing, in order to expand the materials, shapes, and sizes available to you.

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