In the 1980s all the famous food people stayed at San Francisco’s Stanford Court Hotel. It was a great time! This is a dessert that was always served at the hotel’s fine restaurant, Fournou’s Ovens. It’s still a very special treat.—Mary Risley
For the meringue
3/4 cup (4 ounces) almonds, blanched
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 egg whites
For the buttercream
1 cup sugar
24 tablespoons butter, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons coffee extract
1/2 cup finely chopped hazelnuts
For the finish
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and on each sheet of paper trace a 10-inch circle. Turn the paper over onto the pans. Put the almonds and 3/4 cup sugar in a blender or food processor and finely grind.
Make the meringues
1. To make the meringues, put the egg whites with a few grains of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and, with the whisk attachment, beat them until they are stiff and you can turn the bowl over your head without their falling out. With the machine running, add the remaining 1 3/4 cups sugar, a tablespoon at a time.
2. Remove the bowl from the electric mixer and with a large rubber spatula loosely fold in the ground almond mixture. (Thorough mixing is not necessary.) Put the meringue mixture in a large pastry bag fitted with a 1-inch round tip. Pipe two solid discs of meringue in a coil, starting on the outside of the outline. It is important to let the meringue fall onto the paper — do not press it down.
3. Bake until the meringues are almost firm, about an hour. Switch the pans on the shelves halfway through the cooking time. Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on racks for about 15 minutes before carefully peeling off the parchment.
Make the buttercream
1. Put the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment for a minute. Heat the sugar with enough water to make a paste in a small saucepan and stir to mix. Cook, swirling from time to time, over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Turn up the heat and continue to boil, without stirring, until the sugar syrup reaches 242°F (116°C) on a candy thermometer.
2. With the mixer running moderately high, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the eggs. Continue beating the mixture until the bowl is cool to the touch, at least 10 minutes. Add the butter, one piece at a time. As each one is absorbed, add another. When all the butter is incorporated, beat in the coffee extract with a few grains of salt. If the mixture begins to separate, stop adding the coffee extract and keep beating.
Assemble the cake
1. Put the less attractive disc of meringue on a 9-inch round of cardboard. (If the discs of meringue are uneven, you can saw the edges with a serrated knife to make them even.) Spread all the coffee buttercream over the meringue and place the other layer on top. Smooth the buttercream around the outside edge.
2. Lift the cake in one hand and press the chopped hazelnuts around the edge with the other hand. Sieve a light layer of confectioners’ sugar over the top. Place the dacquoise on a round serving platter in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving.
Recipe © 2003 Mary Risley. All rights reserved.