Nick Malgieri was one of Windows on the World‘s finest pastry chefs. Today he’s an instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and an award-winning author. This hazelnut and almond dacquoise cake is a direct descendant of the dacquoise served at Windows.
1 cup skinned hazelnuts
1 cup blanched almonds
1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup additional
2 tablespoons cornstarch
6 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder dissolved in 1 tablespoon warm water
1. Line three jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and draw a 9-inch-diameter circle on each. Set aside. Set racks in the upper, middle and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C).
2. Place the nuts in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until coarsely ground. Spread the nuts in a jelly-roll pan and toast in the oven for about 10 to 13 minutes, stirring several times until golden. Remove and let cool. In a bowl, combine the cooled nuts with 1 cup of the sugar and the cornstarch.
3. Lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the whisk attachment on medium-low speed to whip the egg whites and salt until white and frothy, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed and slowly beat in 1/4 cup of sugar in a stream until the whites form firm peaks. Beat in the extracts. Slowly fold the nut mixture into the whites with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain round tip and pipe the meringue on the prepared pans into spirals starting at the center of each circle. Bake the dacquoise layers until they’re golden and firm, about 60 to 75 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Cool on racks.
4. While the dacquoise layers are baking, combine the milk and sugar in a medium nonreactive saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. Put the egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk some of the hot milk into the yolks, then return all of the egg yolk-milk mixture to the saucepan. Cook briefly over low heat until thickened. (Do not overcook or the eggs will scramble.) Pour the mixture into the bowl of the electric mixer, and use the whisk attachment to whip on medium speed until cooled. Add the butter, then the instant coffee dissolved in water, and whip until smooth and fluffy.
5. To assemble, place one of the cake layers on a platter and spread with one-third of the butter cream. Place another dacquoise layer on the butter cream and spread with another third of the butter cream. Top with the last dacquoise layer and spread the remaining butter cream on the sides of the cake, leaving the top bare. Chill to set the butter cream. The dacquoise is best the next day, so cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. To serve, bring to room temperature, dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut with a serrated knife.
Note: For decorative effect, pulverize any bits of leftover cake layer in a food processor and press against the sides of the cake. Chocolate ganache swirls, topped with nuts of your choice, can be piped on top.
Recipe © 1995 Nick Malgieri.