table talk

Classic French dessert for your Valentine

By Gina Colburn Goto

Not quite cake. Not quite cookie. It’s dacquoise. For those who have not heard of dacquoise, it is a dainty layered cake that is sadly underused by home bakers. This classic French dessert is a light meringue that has nuts folded into it and baked in a thin layer, and is usually layered with whipped cream or butter cream. The name comes from the French word "dacquois," meaning “of Dax” which is a small town in southwestern France.

I learned this lovely dessert in my cooking class a while back, and am going to make it for my family for Valentine’s Day this year. The meringue takes lots of whipping, but as long as you have your friendly eclectic mixer, this should not be an issue at all. How about surprising your loved ones with something different this year? You can add different fruit and different flavored cream to suit your taste.

Before I get into the recipe, I would like to share a little about Valentine’s Day in Japan since the custom here is quite unique. It is celebrated in an interesting manner on two different dates; Feb 14 and March 14. On Feb 14, the women give gifts (usually chocolates) to their boyfriends or any man close to them. The favor is returned to the ladies on “White Day” or March 14 when men present return gifts to the women who gave them gifts a month before.

The most interesting aspect of Valentine’s Day, I think, is the concept of "giri-choco,” which is bought for friends, bosses, colleagues and close male friends. "Giri" in Japan means obligation, hence these types of chocolates have no romantic association. Ladies make sure they pass out "giri-choco" to please men close to them as it seen that men who do not receive any chocolate feel embarrassed.

As explained above, V-day is celebrated with enthusiasm in this country. This dacquoise cake, however, is really not meant for "giri-choco." Please be sure to make it for your true love only.

Chocolate Dacquoise Cake with Strawberries


For dacquoise:

210g egg white

35g sugar

25g flour

12g cocoa powder

135g powder sugar

180g almond powder

For custard cream:

2 egg yolks

30g sugar

20g flour

250cc milk

For whipped cream:

150g whipping cream

10g sugar

3g strawberry powder (make powder from freeze-dried strawberries)

1) Make meringue: In a bowl, start whipping egg whites with electric blender, adding sugar slowly. Be sure to make a strong meringue.

2) Add dry ingredients into the meringue, making sure not to mix too much.

3) On a baking sheet, make two 10cm circles of the meringue mixture and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in a 160c oven.

4) Make custard: In a bowl, mix well egg yolk and sugar until it turns white in color. Add flour.

5) Add heated milk, and cook on low heat until it becomes thick. Let cool.

6) Make whipped cream: Add sugar and strawberry powder into the cream and whip well.

7) On top of the first dacquoise, put some custard and sliced strawberries, then top with whipped cream.

8) Repeat with the second dacquoise.

9) Decorate the top to your taste.

© Japan Today

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That looks great, and quick! To be able to take dacquoise to an event, I bake small tart shells, put fruit purée and the custard in the bottom, then pipe the meringue on top and bake. It's a versatile dessert.

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Wish the directions were not in metric. Us Gaigins have a lot of problem translating metric measurements.

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"210g egg white... 35g sugar... 25g flour..."

Mendokusai! Especially since I lost my little weight scale!

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When I was back in the US, I noticed that the measuring cups had both, as did the dial of the scale. Ganbare, guys!

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It kind of looks like a fancy whoopie pie. I must say it looks lovely, I'll have to try it out.

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