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Test kitchen notebook

Take your sweet time with this dessert

October 16, 2002|Donna Deane

A dacquoise is not a simple recipe and, as we discovered in making it ourselves, there are some essential elements in the process that don't always show up in the directions.

First, it's best to tackle it in stages. Make the meringue layers a day ahead. After they finish baking, turn off the heat and let them sit in the oven overnight so they can dry out (otherwise the meringues become moist and chewy as they stand). The ganache can also be made a day ahead. Cover it tightly and put it in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, about an hour before you assemble the dacquoise, prepare the buttercream and refrigerate it long enough to allow it to set up so it will spread nicely. You'll want to take the ganache out of the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes (or until it's soft enough to spread). Next, be sure to whip the cream until stiff peaks form (stirring in the rum at the end tends to thin it out).

Before you assemble the dacquoise you'll want to trim the edges of the meringues so they're all the same size. We failed to do this the first time we tested the recipe and ended up with a lopsided dessert. Use the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan as a guide, and use a sharp knife to cut along the outside. The smooth, even edges also make for easy frosting.

Finally, begin assembling the dessert by putting a dollop of ganache in the middle of the platter to "glue" the meringue to the plate. The meringues are delicate, so spread the buttercream and ganache with a light touch.

When finished, chill the dacquoise in the refrigerator for an hour or two. This will make cutting and serving easier. A serrated knife works best for cutting through the meringue layers; wipe the knife and dip it in cold water between slices.

This dessert should be eaten two to four hours after you assemble it. Let it stand longer, and it loses its crispness.

And after all that effort, you don't want anything less than perfection.

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