My grandmother turned 80 a couple of months ago, and in celebration, I made her a cake.
80 is such an amazing milestone, and is worthy of a decadent torte.
There’s no sponge here! This very french cake is made up of layers of hazelnut meringue, called dacquoise, and a coffee creme mousseline (which is essentially a buttercream made from pastry cream and butter).
The result is crunchy yet chewy, nutty meringue combined with a smooth and silky, super creamy, coffee filling.
The textures are wonderful together, and the coffee really adds a lovely richness and cuts through some of the sweetness of the dacquoise.
My grandmother loved the cake so much that she even went as far as to have two slices. And this is a very rich cake, where a little goes along way.
It was so super popular with my whole family that I had to scramble to save a couple of slices so I could photograph the inside for you.
I would say that for some, this cake could be a little on the sweet side (I personally prefer more balance between bitter/salty/refreshing and sweet in my baked goods, rather than just having only sweet elements). Next time I make it I would definitely put a layer of bitter chocolate ganache through the centre, or pour a dark chocolate ganache over the entire cake.
- FOR THE HAZELNUT DAQUOISE:
- 70g hazelnut meal
- 80g almond meal
- 185g icing (confectioner's) sugar, sifted
- Pinch sea salt
- 6 egg whites
- ½ cup caster (superfine) sugar
- FOR THE COFFEE BUTTERCREAM:
- 110g milk
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 70g caster (superfine) sugar
- 10g cornflour (cornstarch)
- 2 egg yolks
- 220g unsalted butter, softened and cubed
- 3 tbsp instant coffee, finely ground
- Pinch sea salt
- To make the dacquoise, preheat the oven to 110 C (225 F).
- Line 2 or 3 trays with baking paper. Use a 8 inch round cake tin as a stencil to draw three 8 inch circles on baking the paper. Flip the baking paper over, and grease with spray oil or butter.
- In a medium bowl, combine the hazelnut meal, almond meal, icing sugar and sea salt.
- In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the eggs on medium speed until they reach soft peaks.
- While still mixing, slowly add the caster sugar, raining it in in a steady stream. Turn the mixer up to high speed for 15 seconds or so, until the mixture is glossy and slightly stiff.
- Pour the nut mixture on top of the meringue. Use a rubber spatula to gently, but quickly, fold the nuts into the meringue. The mixture should be gloopy.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round nozzle with the meringue mixture.
- Using the stencils you drew on the baking paper, pipe three large circles with the meringue and then fill them in.
- Bake the dacquoise for 3 hours. Turn off the oven and leave them in the closed oven to dry out for at least 6 hours, or overnight.
- To make the coffee buttercream, bring the milk and vanilla to a simmer in a medium pot.
- Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornflour and egg yolks.
- Pour the milk in a steady stream into the egg mixture, while continuously whisking.
- Transfer the mixture back into the pot, and still whisking, bring to the boil and cook for a further minute.
- Pour the custard back into a bowl, and place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard. Refrigerate till cool.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cooled custard until it is creamy.
- Add the soft butter, one cube at a time, whipping on a medium speed until completely incorporated between each addition.
- Once the butter has all been added, add the coffee and salt and whip until completely combined.
- To assemble the cake, gently peel the baking paper away from the meringue layers.
- Spread about a third of the buttercream over a layer of meringue. Top with another piece of dacquoise and another third of the buttercream. Top with the final layer of meringue, then use the remaining buttercream to finish the cake.
- I spread a thin layer of buttercream over the entire cake, then used the leftovers to pipe dots around the edge. Decorate as you wish - I sprinkled my cake with hazelnut praline.
- Keep refrigerated.
- Serves 10 - 12.
Hazelnut dacquoise adapted from Flour by Joanne Chang.
Coffee buttercream adapted from Brave Tart.