Quarterfinals · Season 2

Dacquoise Detour

The technical challenge this week is to make a hazelnut mocha dacquoise, but if I did that NO ONE, not even I, would eat it.  Kids aren’t crazy about nuts and no one in the house likes coffee.  With a lack of volunteers to eat such a thing, I need to find something that people in this house WILL eat.  So CAUTION:  DETOURS AHEAD.

First, I’ve never made a big old meringue frisbee, so I’m going to start there.  Just a plain meringue frisbee, not nut-infused.  While it’s not the exact part of the recipe, it is a new skill to me and therefore, judges allow that to be an adequate substitution.

Second, the filling cannot be mocha.  Just…yuck.  Sorry, folks–I think I’m one of five people living in Seattle who doesn’t like coffee.  I do own stock in Starbucks, however, because I’m not an idiot.  So my ideas are to go with plain custard or chocolate mousse or chai-spiced custard.

The chocolate ganache is good–I’m doing that!  But what to decorate the top and sides with?  Chocolate sprinkles?  White chocolate?  White chocolate work jammed into the chocolate ganache?  Hmmm…

To make the ganache without nuts in it, I found this recipe where it calls for pistachios to be sprinkled on top.  I’m ignoring that bit and just baking the meringue.

Grab 3 sheets of parchment paper and draw a circle on each one, about 20 cm across.  A dinner plate was too big, and a dessert plate was a bit too small, but close enough.

Each paper goes on a separate tray and they all go in the oven.  285 degrees for 90 minutes, then turn off the oven and let sit in there for another hour.

When they come out of the oven, they’re light and brittle.

They came out really nice!

Made the chocolate ganache.  This is super easy–8 oz heavy cream, 8 oz chocolate.  Heat the milk to *just* boiling, then pour onto the chocolate bits.  After a couple minutes, stir until smooth, then cover and put in the fridge for a couple hours to thicken.

Made the custard following the usual directions.  Unfortunately, it went runny after I put it in the fridge.  Doing a little research, there’s a scientific reason for this.  I found that an undercooked custard may initially appear thick but will slowly turn to soup as the amylase enzyme in the egg yolks attacks the starch and breaks the custard down, usually as it sits under refrigeration. A good guideline is to cook for 1 to 2 minutes after bubbles appear in the custard, stirring constantly, which will kill the enzyme in the egg yolk.
  However, you can reboil refrigerated custard if you discover it hasn’t gelled.  This is what I did.  You can’t let it get over 212 degrees–so you can’t have it at a rolling boil, but just at a low simmer.  It takes more time, but if you want it to get thick, that’s what you gotta do.  There’s more pro tips for custard gone-wrong here.

So back in the fridge it goes.  A while later, I checked again and it was still soupy.  Third cooking and back into the fridge for the night.

Once again, it’s late getting everything assembled so I’m worried about the layers getting mushy while it sits.  The next morning, I checked the custard and discovered that after it’s THIRD cooking, it got thick enough to hold some shape.

Assembly…looks pretty good.  Tastes pretty good; perhaps a little sweet and maybe a little bland, but not bad, really.  The skinny boy ate most of a slice before disappearing.

Middle kid is making her own birthday cake.  She’s a baker, too.

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