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Hazelnut meringue with butter cream.

8 eggs separated
2 cups 400 g caster sugar
2 cups 225 g finely ground nuts (hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds or walnuts all serve well).
2 sticks (250 g) unsalted butter

Eileen Green first introduced me to hazelnut dacquoise in her tribeca loft in the '70s. She made them for Dean & De Luca, or in one-off designs for special occasions.

Beat the egg-whites to stiff peaks, incorporating one cup of sugar gradually as you go. Gently fold in the ground nuts. If you want a crunchier texture, keep up to 1/3 of the nuts coarsely chopped. You can also lightly roast the nuts before you grind them for a stronger flavour.

These quantities suffice for three 8'' (20 cm) discs. For special designs—hearts, letters, numbers, sailboats—you can pipe any shapes you like.

Pipe or spread the mixture on buttered baking paper or silicon cloth. Bake at 350°F 180°C for 20 minutes

Beat the egg yolks. Dissolve the remaining sugar in ¼ cup water, and boil to a temperature of 250 °F (120 °C). Slowly add the hot syrup to the egg yolks, whisking well. Continue to whisk, adding coffee, chocolate or vanilla as desired. Once the mixture is lukewarm, gradually incorporate the butter, a nugget at a time. Whisk gently for five minutes more.

Build your cake with alternate layers of dacquoise and flavoured butter cream—or just flavoured whipped cream. Dust the top with cocoa or confectioner's sugar—or just slather on more cream.

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