Dacquoise has been one of my favourite ‘go to’ special occasion desserts for many years. I first discovered it when I invested my ‘pocket money’ in a series of Cordon Bleu cookery books when I was in high school when they were first published in 1971!
Dacquoise (pronounced dak-waz) is a light meringue flavoured with either ground hazelnuts or almonds, almost resembling a giant macaroon. The original one in Cordon Bleu consists of circular discs of meringue sandwiched together with cream flavoured with a puree made from stewed dried apricots. I am known to bend the rules and have used strawberry, mixed summer berries, figs and today I used plums.
The 4 egg white recipe is perfect to serve 8-10, but I needed to serve 16 on this occasion, so I have doubled the recipe and made rectangular shapes as it is easier to transport and serve.
I love the contrast of the sweet meringue with tart, stewed apricots or plums.
The addition of nuts reduces the sweetness of the meringue and adds texture. If you are grinding the nuts rather keep the grind course than too fine. I prefer the nut texture. If you over-grind the nuts they become oily and may become a nut butter, which will not mix with the meringue.
Another reason for this being one of my favourites is that the meringue bases can be made days in advance, either wrapped or stored in plastic, to retain their texture. The fruit puree can also be prepared in advance and refrigerated until required. All you need to do a few hours before serving is whip the cream and assemble.
Plums are one of my favourite summer fruits. For this recipe I chose ripe, purple skinned plums and roughly chopped them up, put them in a pot with no other ingredients. I wanted them to be a tart contrast to the sweet meringue and cream. Allow the fruit to simmer in its own juice until it breaks up into a puree. If it looks too watery allow it to reduce to a thin jammy consistency. You need about 200ml for the 4 egg recipe.
The cream must be cold when you whip it. As the cream consistency must be firm to ‘hold’ the fruit puree, watch that it is firm, but avoid over whipping.