Almost 20 years ago, Canadian Living Magazine asked if they could include our Hazelnut Dacquoise recipe in the magazine. You can still see it here (though they called it a coffee Dacquoise.) It has always been one of my favorite desserts; one that I’ve made many variations of over the years.
A dacquoise is a cake or torte made up of layers of nut meringue with different fillings – whipped cream, buttercream, mousse, curd, etc. This version is made with brown sugar and pecan meringues layered with whipped cream and caramelized apples. For a slightly easier version, you can substitute fresh, sliced strawberries for the apples.
The meringues and apples can be made in advance, but you’ll want to assemble the dacquoise between 2 – 8 hours before serving. A minimum of 2 hours so the meringue has a chance to soften just a little and makes it easier to cut. Under 8 hours so that the meringue doesn’t get too soft (though even soft, it’s still delicious).
Brown Sugar Pecan and Apple Dacquoise
Toasted pecan and brown sugar meringues layered with lightly sweetened whipped cream and caramelized apple slices.
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves (6 oz.)
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
- 2 Tbsp. potato starch
- 6 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed (8 oz. / 227 grams)
- 4 large Granny Smith apples (2 lbs. / 900 grams)
- 3 Tbsp. butter (or margarine)
- 6 Tbsp. brown sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups whipping cream (or whipped topping)
- 3 Tbsp. icing sugar
- For the meringue: On a baking sheet, toast the pecans in 350°F (180°C) oven until the nuts are golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool, then add to a food processor with icing sugar and potato starch and pulse until finely chopped.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 200°F (95°C). Line two 17- x 11-inch baking sheets with parchment paper. Using the base of 8-inch (2 L) springform pan or cake pan as a guide, trace 2 circles on each sheet and turn paper over on baking sheets.
- Place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on medium-high until foamy and then slowly add the brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. at a time until it’s all been added. Continue whipping the meringue until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add the pecan mixture to the egg whites and gently fold in.
- Use a spatula to divide the meringue equally among the circles, making sure you spread it out evenly. Or, transfer the meringue to a piping bag and pipe the circles. Place the trays in the oven and bake one hour. Switch the tray positions in the oven (so the top one is now on the bottom and bottom is now on the top) and bake another hour. Turn the oven off and let the meringues cool completely in the oven. They should be crisp and dry when cooled. Carefully stack the meringues on a plate and wrap well in plastic until ready to assemble.
- For the apples: Melt the butter and sugar in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted and the mixture is simmering, add the sliced apples and salt. Cook, stirring for 10 minutes or until the apples are soft and golden brown and the liquid has mostly evaporated. Transfer to a bowl/container and chill completely before assembling.
- When you’re ready to assemble add the whipping cream and icing sugar to the bowl of a mixer and use the whisk attachment to whip the cream on medium until stiff peaks just form (be careful not to over-whip).
- Place one of the meringues on a flat cake plate. Using a spatula, spread one-quarter of the whipped cream on the meringue; arrange a layer of apple slices on top of the whipped cream. Repeat to make 3 more layers, using the last 1/4 of whipped cream to pipe a decorative border around the torte. Sprinkle with extra chopped pecans. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.