Phew, I am exhausted! Seriously so tired. I know everyone with real reasons to be tired like: work, children or doing something useful with their time may want to punch me in the face but this bake was intense. I still don’t think I’ve recovered. This probably doesn’t bode well for me as a parent but this sugar baby kicked my butt. I’m too tired to keep complaining and there is so much to discuss. Like how blanched hazelnuts are always worth the investment.
When I was shopping for ingredients for this bake I obviously had to buy hazelnuts. Two things affected my hazelnut purchase. 1. I was at Walmart because I also needed cream and other non-baking items and 2. I am not made of money. Walmart doesn’t sell blanched hazelnuts in reasonable quantities and said nuts cost roughly a thousand dollars. So I bought the unblanched nuts. Let me tell you, do not blanch your own nuts, you will spend about an hour massaging wet nuts and then another 30 minutes cleaning your stove top after the blanching liquid boils over. But if you don’t believe me, you can try for yourself with these instructions.
After my fingers lost their blanching wrinkles and I could face my nuts again I roasted them and got ready to make the meringue. I feel like I am beginning to master the art of the meringue. Although every time I still yell to my husband/cats (whoever is close by) that I have over whipped my meringue. Thankfully this has never once been the case but the fear keeps me on my toes. I got my meringue to almost stiff peaks and mixed in my nuts.
It’s at this point in the bake that I think I committed a major baking faux pas. I was out of parchment paper so I lined my baking sheets with tin foil. Gasp! Various message boards assured me things would be fine so I piped my discs onto the foil and put them in the oven. Also no judgment on my less than symmetrical discs, please.
40 minutes later the faint aroma of burnt Nutella told me everything was not fine. I quickly turned off the oven and spent the next 45 minutes while they cooled in oven thinking about how I had just turned about $12 of nuts into carbon frisbees. Good times.
Between my bouts of anxiety over burnt meringue, I made the ganache, custard and praline. I told you I was tired!
I took on the ganache first since I needed to get my confidence back. I am happy to report the ganache came together without a hitch.
Next up was the custard. It’s been a while since I blamed Mary or Paul for my recipe confusion but I feel compelled to call out the Queen on this one. The recipe gives the list of ingredients and instructions to make the custard, as recipes do. And then it reads “Fold half of the cooled coffee mixture into the cream, adding as much as necessary to form a spreadable consistency.” That’s it. The custard is never heard from again. Where does the other half go? Do I just snack on coffee custard for the rest of the week? So you know what I did, I halved the custard recipe! Like a boss. Oh, and I also used brewed espresso rather than coffee essence. I was going majorly off script.
The custard tried to curdle/scramble on me but I did not have time for that so I just whisked until my arms gave out and I pulled it back from the brink.
Now onto the praline. I’m a big believer in branding and I was loving that praline is a less frightening way to refer to sugar work. I felt like I could handle praline, caramelized nuts not so much. My sister has a doctorate in psychology and can probably explain why this is effective but all I know is that I did not burn the sugar.
I was in the home stretch, all the components were made, I just had to assemble the dacquoise. And I got to work, right after leaving everything for a day because I just couldn’t. This was officially too many steps for one dessert. How do the bakers on the show do everything in three hours?
The next day I laid out all the elements and surveyed the state of my meringues. It was bleak.
As I mentioned this whole bake cost a fortune so I was determined to salvage what I could and began carving away the worst bits of burnt meringue. It was a crumbly mess but there would be cream and more hazelnuts covering the edges so no one would be the wiser. I stacked and piped and spooned and came out with this…..
Now I know there are much more worthy things to do with your time and money and it might not be as beautiful as Mary’s dacquoise but I am pretty impressed with myself. You can’t even tell that the meringue layers tangoed with disaster. And as impressive as this bake looks it tasted just as good. Light and chewy and just enough coffee flavour. I’d say the ganache is overkill but it does make it look pretty. That being said this is kind of a snobby dessert. If someone served me hazelnut dacquoise I would be impressed with their baking skill but might secretly roll my eyes and think a jar of Nutella and a spoon would be just as good.