KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Dacquoise & Meringue. A Detailed Instruction
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Les fonds sont pour la cuisine...
Check, Please! Bay Area: Episode 8
Rainy Saturdays at the Ferry Building
Take 5 with Will Petty
Review: The Slow Food Guide to San Francisco
Experimenting with the "Flavor Savor Pack": The Ju...
Consommé Celestina al Tartufo ~ Consommé Celestine...
Check, Please! Bay Area: Episode 7
Beyond the Valley: Abacus
Cook by the Book: Chocolate Holidays
 
 
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
 
Monday, February 06, 2006
Dacquoise & Meringue. A Detailed Instruction


At a recent Bay Area food blogger a la minute get-together at Pim's house to assemble the tiny hand-written tickets for the Menu of Hope raffle luckily and deliciously placed me at the right table at the right time.

Brett of In Praise of Sardines had the baking itch and scratched it with an incredible Brown Butter Hazelnut Cake from Suzanne Goin's new cookbook, Sunday Suppers at Lucques. I immediately purchased said book and set to making this opulent gem in my own kitchen.

The funny thing was, it came out completely different.





Perhaps because when I read the recipe, I realized it was no regular cake. The Brown Butter Hazelnut Cake's roots are in dacquoise. Traditionally, dacquoise is defined as nut meringue. These edible architectural details can usually be found demurely hiding in between layers of buttercream as they start out crunchy but softly melt into a layer of sweet nutty unctuousness.



Easy on paper, the meringue (French, Swiss or Italian) is a component which can frustrate even the most seasoned baker. When recipes rely on egg whites or meringue as their main leavener, the workings and instructions of the recipe are very important. Few cookbooks can afford to take the time to explain thoroughly what I am about to here.

In the following step-by step photographs, I hope to answer some of the many questions people ask me about meringue and the recipes which are built on/around them. The hints and advice outlined here can be applied to mousse, buttercream, angel food cake, tortes, semifreddo, molten chocolate cake, quenelles, Pavlova and many more.

When making meringue, we start with room temperature whites. This is because egg whites are pure protein and we want to coax them into doing what we desire them to do. Just as we would not put a very cold piece of meat in a very hot pan. Because a meringue is built, not merely made, we don't rush. They must be completely free of yolks and the bowl they are cracked into needs to be intensely clean. We create a meringue with patience and thoughtful watchfulness. One egg white can quadruple in size and become all the structure a strong protein will, if it feels respectfully cajoled. This is the same idea as kneading bread to activate gluten. Gluten is the protein in flour which gives bread structure.

We start with the freshest eggs. The younger the hen, the stronger the egg white.





The best way to make a meringue is with a stand mixer. Because unlike you or a hand-held mixer it can aerate better, with more force more evenly. Start on the slowest speed and over time increase your speed incrementally. Never stop the mixer in the middle of making the meringue. Like taking a horse across a river, stopping midway will break the momentum and you and horse will be taken down the river by the strong current.



The above photo shows "trails" made by the whisk, notice that the whites have started to become shiny. In the case of a French meringue, we would add the sugar now, a little at a time, so as not to overwhelm and demolish the cloud-like body of the egg whites. This is why superfine sugar (aka baker's sugar or bartender's sugar) is recommended for meringue or baked goods with fine crumb.

Never add anything to the meringue before you have created some body. (Even though the instructions in this recipe say differently.) Otherwise, as with whipped cream, you will weigh down the liquid and it will not fluff properly.



In this recipe you have three mixtures to contend with. One bowl of drys: confectioners sugar blended with nuts and a scant amount of flour, liquid brown butter, and your strong but fragile meringue. Because these mixtures are completely disparate and threaten to cancel each other out, it is of utmost importance that they be added together carefully, gently and intentionally.





In another small bowl on the side, use a whisk to mix a small amount of the meringue with some brown butter. As when making a vinaigrette, you want to fool two ingredients that would normally repel each other into melding together. You are creating an emulsion ( = liason) here so that blending the larger quantities will be an easier, more accepted transition between all parties.

With a wide malleable spatula this mixture gets scraped into the larger body of meringue with another splash of brown butter. Turn the bowl so as to push the spatula down to the bottom middle of the bowl and fold layers under-over. A few strokes before it's uniform, sprinkle about a cup of drys over the entire surface of the young batter. With a few streaks of drys still visible, repeat with brown butter and drys just until batter is uniform.

With dacquoise this dry-wet pattern should be gentle and careful but not excessive. Overmixing, although it looks and feels impossible to do so, may eradicate all those tiny little air bubbles which you worked so patiently to build.

In the microscope of your imagination what you are creating is a very thin fine coating of sugar around the millions of tiny egg white bubbles. This is what creates the crispy crunchy meringue.



This particular recipe is very high in fat not only because of the quantity of the brown butter, but also because of the state it comes in. Liquid. When we use the "creaming method" as in the average American cake or chocolate chip cookie, we rely on the fact that a stick of butter is not pure fat. It has water and milk solids that are perfectly homogenized into the butterfat. But when we brown butter we are "clarifying" it -- meaning that the water evaporates and the solids crystallize.




Making dacquoise, like mousse, is about the tenuous balance of fat and that which binds it. These emulsions are very precarious. Your final mixture may look "broken" but do not fear! Meringue does not kiss and tell. If you get it perfect it's like the basketball whooshing into the basket with no one to see.

Deeply satisfying.
 
 

6 Comments:

Anonymous melissa said...

Shuna dear -
this looks a bit too challenging for me, but am happy to report that i finally got around to making the famous gingerbread this weekend. delicious. it was a big hit at a local gathering, and mr E loves it. as did i, and mommy E, who is not generally a fan of gingerbread. it was perfect with tea on a cold and rainy afternoon in ny.
thank you.
love,
melissa

2/06/2006 5:08 AM

 
Anonymous Brett said...

Shuna, thank you for the amazingly detailed instructions and expert advice. I will definitely be referring to your wonderful post next time I attempt this recipe! To see how my different (yet thankfully still tasty) version of Suzanne Goin's cake came out (and to see the recipe), check out my post here.

2/06/2006 8:24 AM

 
Blogger Candace said...

Wow!! AWESOME blog! Can't wait to show my dh. Your instructions are fantastic! If you visit my blog, you can look at dh's wonderful food (though I've only posted a little of it so far), but don't look at my very pedestrian pudding, LOL! ;o)

2/06/2006 12:51 PM

 
Blogger cucina testa rossa said...

it was magnifique! and made my flight home so much more delicious. merci merci :-)

2/07/2006 7:25 AM

 
Blogger Nina said...

I love dacquoise! Such an indulgence--to eat and to make. :)

2/07/2006 4:57 PM

 
Anonymous DynV said...

Thanks !!! I was sad because I missed two times my Meringue but your tips will ensure success next time. :)

12/28/2006 7:15 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
 
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
 
Tasty Food Sites
CHOW
Chowhound SF
Crushpad
CUESA
CulinaryCorps
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Epicurious
eGullet.org
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
KTEH Food
Leite's Culinaria
Locavores
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
 
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
agoodfoodblog
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Blogsoop
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Digesty-SF
Eater SF
Eggbeater
Extramsg.com
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
Gastronomie
Hedonia
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Jatbar
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
MeatHenge
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Nosheteria
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
Spicetart
The Amateur Gourmet
Tablehopper
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Vinography
VirgoBlue
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
 
 
   
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
 
Food Books
 
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
 
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
 
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
 
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
 
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
 
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
 
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
 
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
 
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
 
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
 
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
 
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
 
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
 
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
 
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
 
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
 
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
 
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
 
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
 
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
 
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
 
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
 
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
 
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
 
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
 
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
 
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
 
 
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
 
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
 
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
 
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
 
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
 
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
 
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
 
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
 
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
 
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
 
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
 
ChocolateChocolate
by Lisa Yockelson
 
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
 
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
 
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
 
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
 
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
 
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
 
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
 
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
 
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
 
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
 
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
 
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
 
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
 
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
 
 
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
 
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
 
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
 
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
 
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
 
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
 
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
 
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
 
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
 
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
 
Bouchon
by Thomas Keller
 
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
 
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
 
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
 
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
 
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
 
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
 
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
 
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
 
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
 
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
 
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
 
 
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.