Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousee and Hazelnut Buttercream

<strong>Prep:</strong> 1 hour<br>
<br>
<strong>Cook:</strong> 1 hour, 45 minutes<br>
<br>
<strong>Chill: </strong>2 hours<br>
<br>
<strong>Makes:</strong> 10 servings<br>
<br>
This recipe, which tasters found rich, sweet and impressive, is adapted from one by Rafael Ornelas, head pastry chef at Sarah's Pastries &amp; Candies in Chicago.  Circles of meringue are layered with a chocolate mousse then finished  with a hazelnut buttercream frosting. The meringue, mousse and  buttercream can be made ahead. Serve this with a dairy meal, because it  contains butter and cream. If you want a lighter dessert, simply enjoy  the meringue on its own, with ice cream, sorbet or whipped cream.<br>
<br>
Meringue layers:<br>
<br>
5 ounces whole hazelnuts, toasted, skinned<br>
<br>
1 1/4 cups sugar<br>
<br>
6 large egg whites, room temperature<br>
<br>
1/8 teaspoon salt<br>
<br>
1 teaspoon vanilla<br>
<br>
Chocolate mousse:<br>
<br>
7 ounces semisweet chocolate<br>
<br>
2 cups whipping cream<br>
<br>
Hazelnut buttercream:<br>
<br>
1 pound butter or margarine, room temperature<br>
<br>
2 tablespoons each: almond paste, finely ground toasted hazelnuts<br>
<br>
5 egg yolks<br>
<br>
3/4 cup sugar<br>
<br>
1/4 cup water<br>
<br>
1. Heat oven to 275 degrees. Cut three 7{-inch  circles from parchment paper. Position racks so oven is divided into  thirds. Place hazelnuts and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor;  pulse to a fine cornmeal-like texture. Set aside.<br>
<br>
2. Combine egg whites and salt in bowl of electric  mixer; beat on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to medium-high;  gradually add remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar, beating until glossy and  medium peaks form. Add vanilla. Turn speed to high; beat 30 seconds  until medium stiff peaks form. Gently fold nut-sugar mixture into  beaten egg whites in four additions.<br>
<br>
3. Scoop batter into a pastry bag fitted with  1/2-inch round tip. Place a parchment circle on a baking sheet.  Starting in the center of the parchment circle, pipe meringue in a  continuous spiral until you reach the outer edge; repeat with remaining  two circles. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 degrees; bake 1 hour.  Let cool completely on baking sheets.<br>
<br>
4. For mousse, place chocolate in a microwave-safe  bowl; microwave at 50-percent power, stirring in 1-minute increments,  until half-melted, about 3 minutes. Heat 3/4 cup of the whipping cream  to a boil in a small saucepan; pour over the chocolate. Let cool to  slightly warmer than room temperature, stirring often, about 10  minutes. Beat remaining 11/4 cups of the whipping cream to stiff peaks  with electric mixer; fold gently into chocolate mixture.<br>
<br>
5. For buttercream frosting, stir butter, almond  paste and hazelnuts together in a medium bowl; set aside. Place yolks  in a large bowl; beat with electric mixer until light and pale in  color, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Heat sugar and water in a saucepan  over medium heat to soft ball stage (234-240 degrees on a candy  thermometer or when a drop of syrup dropped in cold water creates a  soft ball), about 25 minutes. Add hot sugar mixture to yolk mixture;  beat on high until cool, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter mixture.<br>
<br>
6. To assemble cake, line an 8-inch round cake pan  with plastic wrap. Carefully place 1 meringue layer on the bottom. Fill  a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip with hazelnut  buttercream; pipe two rings around the edge of the cake, one atop the  other. Fill the inside of the ring with chocolate mousse; spread  evenly. Repeat with remaining meringue layers. Refrigerate cake to  firm, 2 hours.<br>
<br>
7. Carefully invert pan to unmold cake onto a  serving platter; remove plastic wrap. Frost top and sides of cake with  buttercream. Use any remaining chocolate mousse to pipe rosettes with a  pastry bag on torte, if desired; top each rosette with a toasted  hazelnut. Slice carefully with a serrated knife.<br>
<br>
<strong>Nutrition information</strong>:<em> Per serving: 909 calories, 72 percent of calories  from fat, 75 g fat, 40 g saturated fat, 395 mg cholesterol, 57 g  carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 101 mg sodium, 3 g fiber</em>

( Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune )

Prep: 1 hour

Cook: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Chill: 2 hours

Makes: 10 servings

This recipe, which tasters found rich, sweet and impressive, is adapted from one by Rafael Ornelas, head pastry chef at Sarah's Pastries & Candies in Chicago. Circles of meringue are layered with a chocolate mousse then finished with a hazelnut buttercream frosting. The meringue, mousse and buttercream can be made ahead. Serve this with a dairy meal, because it contains butter and cream. If you want a lighter dessert, simply enjoy the meringue on its own, with ice cream, sorbet or whipped cream.

Meringue layers:

5 ounces whole hazelnuts, toasted, skinned

1 1/4 cups sugar

6 large egg whites, room temperature

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate mousse:

7 ounces semisweet chocolate

2 cups whipping cream

Hazelnut buttercream:

1 pound butter or margarine, room temperature

2 tablespoons each: almond paste, finely ground toasted hazelnuts

5 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1. Heat oven to 275 degrees. Cut three 7{-inch circles from parchment paper. Position racks so oven is divided into thirds. Place hazelnuts and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor; pulse to a fine cornmeal-like texture. Set aside.

2. Combine egg whites and salt in bowl of electric mixer; beat on medium speed until foamy. Increase speed to medium-high; gradually add remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar, beating until glossy and medium peaks form. Add vanilla. Turn speed to high; beat 30 seconds until medium stiff peaks form. Gently fold nut-sugar mixture into beaten egg whites in four additions.

3. Scoop batter into a pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch round tip. Place a parchment circle on a baking sheet. Starting in the center of the parchment circle, pipe meringue in a continuous spiral until you reach the outer edge; repeat with remaining two circles. Bake 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 250 degrees; bake 1 hour. Let cool completely on baking sheets.

4. For mousse, place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at 50-percent power, stirring in 1-minute increments, until half-melted, about 3 minutes. Heat 3/4 cup of the whipping cream to a boil in a small saucepan; pour over the chocolate. Let cool to slightly warmer than room temperature, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Beat remaining 11/4 cups of the whipping cream to stiff peaks with electric mixer; fold gently into chocolate mixture.

5. For buttercream frosting, stir butter, almond paste and hazelnuts together in a medium bowl; set aside. Place yolks in a large bowl; beat with electric mixer until light and pale in color, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat to soft ball stage (234-240 degrees on a candy thermometer or when a drop of syrup dropped in cold water creates a soft ball), about 25 minutes. Add hot sugar mixture to yolk mixture; beat on high until cool, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter mixture.

6. To assemble cake, line an 8-inch round cake pan with plastic wrap. Carefully place 1 meringue layer on the bottom. Fill a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip with hazelnut buttercream; pipe two rings around the edge of the cake, one atop the other. Fill the inside of the ring with chocolate mousse; spread evenly. Repeat with remaining meringue layers. Refrigerate cake to firm, 2 hours.

7. Carefully invert pan to unmold cake onto a serving platter; remove plastic wrap. Frost top and sides of cake with buttercream. Use any remaining chocolate mousse to pipe rosettes with a pastry bag on torte, if desired; top each rosette with a toasted hazelnut. Slice carefully with a serrated knife.

Nutrition information: Per serving: 909 calories, 72 percent of calories from fat, 75 g fat, 40 g saturated fat, 395 mg cholesterol, 57 g carbohydrates, 10 g protein, 101 mg sodium, 3 g fiber

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