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Independence Day
Independence Day

Hazelnut Dacquoise with Chocolate Mousee and Hazelnut Buttercream

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 Bonnie Trafelet/Chicago Tribune
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