For the birthday girl

By Mélanie, on Monday, October 20, 2008

Today’s the birthday of my most assiduous reader.

She’s having a party next week-end, and I promised her I’d bring the birthday cake. She did not ask for much, just that it’d be something with chocolate.
And of course, I couldn’t go just for simple. Oh no, I wanted something special, something good, and beautiful, and that would not crumble, or break apart when I’d try to cut it. Basically, I put myself under maximum pressure.
In order to avoid any bad surprise, I decided to practice this week-end. And this was such a good idea!! This way, on Thursday night, when I’ll bake the cake again, I’ll know not to put the caramelized sugar into the egg yolk if I don’t want to break my mixer… But that’s another story.

Anyway, on Saturday, again, I was confronted with my decision making incapacity. Meringue, brownie, dacquoise, shortbread? Mousse, ganache, cream? What the heck! I had all week-end, so why not bake 2 cakes, bring them to work, and ask my colleagues which one they prefer? I must admit I did not realize they were that complicated (well, especially the first one), but this is why I’m so glad I had the practicing session.

They liked both of them, but we had to make a choice.

And the second place is awarded to….. the hazelnut dacquoise and chocolate cake!
The dacquoise is a pastry half way between a meringue and a macaroon. In this cake, I made it with hazelnuts and almonds. And between the three layers was a chocolate mousse (actually, half way between a mousse and a butter cream).

Claire, here’s a slice of your second birthday cake. Happy birthday!

Hazelnut dacquoise and chocolate cake

For the dacquoise
1/4 cup almond powder
1/4 cup hazelnut powder
3/4 cups sugar
5 egg whites

For the chocolate buttercream
9 oz chocolate, unsweetened
1 ½ stick butter
6 egg whites
1 Tbsp sugar
3 egg yolks

Make dacquoise:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. With a pencil, drawn on each sheet a circle the size of your cake (about 9 inch diameter). Turn the sheets on the other side (but so you can still see the drawing).

Beat whites in mixer at medium-high speed until they just hold soft peaks. Reduce speed to medium, then add granulated sugar, a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Fold almond mixture in 2 batches into whites until just combined. Transfer meringue to a pastry bag and pipe the meringue onto the prepared sheets, filling in the 3 circles.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, switching the sheets from one rack to the other each 10 minutes. The meringue should be golden and firm.
Let the meringues cool on the sheets, and peel the meringues off the sheets carefully. The meringues may be made 1 day in advance and kept wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature.

Make buttercream:

Chop chocolate. In a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate, stirring until smooth, and let cool to 110°F. Cut butter into pieces and soften to cool room temperature.
Whisk butter with an electric mixer until creamy. While beating, add melted chocolate in 3 batches.

Beat whites in mixer at medium-high speed until they just hold soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, and continue to beat until whites just hold stiff, glossy peaks. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and continue beating at medium speed for about 30 secondes.

Gently incorporate the eggs to the chocolate mixture in 4 batches, using a whisk. The cream is now ready and should be used immediately.

Place one disk of dacquoise on the plate. Cover with 2/5th of the cream, then place another disk, 2/5th of the cream, and the last disk. Use the remaining cream to cover the cake and for the decoration.

Dacquoise aux noisettes et crème chocolat

A venir prochainement…

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