I’ve been arm-pit deep in the final weeks of crunch-time book production, my friends. I’ve been reshooting lots of cakes and coming up with news ideas on the fly and just slam-jamming it all at my wonderful editor and just hoping I’m on track. That squeal of ridiculous excitement when I nail an idea in my head butts up against crippling self-doubt – all wrapped up in a future-book with a publishing date of August 2018, more than a year from now – but I know it will creep up on me, and knowing what my life has been like in the last decade, I wonder what this year has in store for me. On the opposite end of cake book madness, I’ve been deep into savoury-ish cooking these days – some of which I’ve been documenting on my *new* Instagram account, Snackblaster! I can’t tell if I’m going to start a new food blog dedicated to snacks and weekday meals. In the meantime: I went “early-1990s-is-cool” with this mocha dacquoise cake I made for my dear sister’s birthday!
The crispy chew of the chocolate meringue, with rich chocolate ganache and the melty creamy goodness of coffee swiss meringue buttercream, and the juicy acidic tang of raspberries makes this mocha dacquoise A-OK, light yet rich. I love the intense flavour of freeze dried strawberries and couldn’t resist a light sprinkle of them for both colour and texture too.
Mocha Dacquoise Cake
For the chocolate meringue
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1/3 cup high quality Dutch process cocoa powder
- 6 large egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
For the ganache
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces good quality semi sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
For the coffee swiss meringue buttercream
- 1 cup of egg whites, about 7 to 8 large eggs
- 2¼ cups of granulated white sugar
- 2½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon pure coffee extract
For the decoration
- Cocoa powder for dusting
- Freeze dried strawberries
- Fresh rasbperries
- Organic edible flower petals
Make the meringue
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper – using a marker, trace two 9 inch circles on the underside of each paper. In a large bowl, sift together confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and whisk until soft peaks form. With mixer running, gradually add the granulated sugar, whisking until stiff glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Gently sift in the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa mixture in three additions, carefully folding after each addition until mostly incorporated – mixture may deflate a little but don’t panic! :)
- Transfer meringue to a large pastry bag fitted with a large open circle tip. Starting just within the marked circles, pipe meringue in a large swirl/coil, starting from the outside circle and ending in the middle. Bake for 2 hours. Once 2 hours are up, turn off the oven and allow the meringues to dry out completely – I had them in there for another 4 hours.
Make the ganache
- In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat the cream on medium heat until it has almost reached a low boil and steam is rising. Remove from heat.
- Add the chocolate, ensuring the chocolate is covered with the cream, and let it sit untouched for ten minutes.
- After ten minutes, gently whisk together into a thick, glossy chocolate ganache.
- Allow to cool until thickened enough to be spreadable, about 1 hour, or power-chill it in freezer for 30 minutes to quicken the process, being careful not to freeze it!
Make the buttercream
- Ensure the metal bowl of your stand mixer is completely clean, dry, and free of grease. A quick wipe out with a halved lemon, then rinsed and dried, will be sufficient.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, place the egg whites and the sugar and mix on low to combine into a sugary slurry. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place on the stovetop on medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to make a double boiler situation, ensuring the mixer bowl doesn’t touch the water.
- Heat the egg and sugar mixture until it reaches 160°F on a thermometer, or is hot to the touch, whisking occasionally—this usually takes me about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Carefully return the metal mixing bowl to the stand mixer, with the whisk attachment in place. Now, bring the mixer up to high speed and beat for 8 to 10 minutes until you’ve created medium-stiff peaks and it’s a billowy sticky cloudy meringue. Whipping the meringue will also help cool down the bowl; make sure your meringue has cooled sufficiently before adding the butter—the bowl shouldn’t be hot, but more neutral/warm.
- Swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter a few pieces at a time, until all the butter is incorporated—it will look like a thick soup at this point. Add the coffee extract, then bring the speed up to medium-high and beat until a fluffy silky magical buttercream has formed, about 2-3 minutes.
Put it all together
- Remove the dried meringue discs from the parchment paper and set the first disc on a cake board or serving platter.
- Using an offset spatula, spread the meringue disc with one half of the cooled and thickened ganache mixture.
- Frost the top of the ganache with a generous amount of the coffee buttercream.
- Carefully place the second meringue disc on top of the coffee buttercream, pressing in gently to adhere.
- Spread the second half of the ganache on top of the disc.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a large multi-pronged French open star tip with the coffee buttercream and pipe drop generous drop stars on top of the ganache.
- Decorate with fresh raspberries, a light dusting of cocoa powder, crushed pieces of freeze dried strawberries or raspberries and torn edible flower petals!
- Cake will last a few days in the refrigerator, if it lasts that long – I think it tastes delicious cold from the fridge, the meringue remained both crispy and chewy. You can make it ahead, just reserve the decorations and add right before serving.
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