Saturday, September 13, 2008

Chocolate Dacquoise with Hazelnuts and Apricots

Last week, I told you about my dried apricot experiments and the awesome dessert that resulted--chocolate-covered apricot ice cream balls. What I didn't tell you was that I was horribly torn between two possible apricot and chocolate recipes, and could NOT decide which one to make. So, like any good sugar addict, I made both.

This recipe also comes from David Lebovitz's Ripe for Dessert, and I have to be a fangirl for a second and rave about his cookbooks. Don't you hate it when you buy gorgeous cookbooks with the highest expectations, only to find that the recipes don't turn out the way they're pictured, or even worse, are so poorly written that they don't turn out at all? Yeah, David's recipes are the exact opposite. They always work and they're always delicious. Big fan!

But back to the dessert. This recipe consisted of chocolate meringue disks studded with chopped hazelnuts and dried apricots, sandwiching an apricot-infused ganache. The cookies are meant to be assembled a day before serving, so that the meringue softens and loses its crispness. The ganache and the inside of the meringue meld together in a sinful, fudgy rich chocolately orgy, while the outside of the cookies remain crispy. The hazelnuts add a great flavor and crunch, so these cookies don't verge into the too-gooey category.

Since I made these the same day I made the apricot ice cream, I couldn't resist filling some of the cookies with apricot ice cream instead. After carefully taste-testing the different versions, then thoughtfully re-testing them, then going back a third and fourth time, I honestly couldn't tell you which one is better! The chocolate-filled sandwiches are definitely more decadent, but the ice-cream filled ones stay crispier in the freezer, and their light texture and cocoa flavor is a great contrast to the rich ice cream. I'm afraid this calls for more deliberation and testing. I am nothing if not thorough.

I served these cookies with the apricot sauce from the ice cream recipe, because it made a ton and was a great dunking sauce. This recipe is a definite keeper, with the caveat that I would omit the dried apricots from the cookies next time (too chewy!). Otherwise, these were fab and I think they're a great company dessert, especially since they have to be made a day ahead--it ensures that you're not slaving too hard come the day of the dinner party.


Chocolate Dacquoise with Hazelnuts and Apricots
Adapted from Ripe for Dessert by David Lebovitz

3/4 c hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped
1 cup (5 oz) finely diced dried apricots
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
5 large egg whites, room temperature
pinch salt
1/4 c sugar
2 tbsp apricot jam
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 275. Cover two baking sheets with parchment, and trace six 4-inch circles on each baking sheet.

Place the chopped hazelnuts, diced apricots, and cocoa powder in a small bowl and toss them together so that the apricot pieces are coated and separate.

In a *very clean* bowl if a stand mixer, place the room temperature egg whites and salt. Begin to beat them with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, a few spoonfuls at a time, until the whites are thick and glossy, 2-3 minutes. Whisk in the jam and vanilla. Fold in the apricot and hazelnut mixture.

Divide the meringue evenly between the twelve circles on the parchment, spreading each meringue disk into an even layer within the circle. Bake the meringues for an hour, then turn off the oven and let them sit in the oven for another 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely on the baking sheets.

These meringues are great filled with an apricot-chocolate ganache. They're also good filled with ice cream, and I imagine they'd be great with buttercream or caramel too. If you use ganache, fill them and wrap them in saran wrap, then let them sit (refrigerated) for at least 24 hours so the texture can meld together. They can be refrigerated up to 3 days, or frozen up to 3 months. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving.


5 comments:

  1. I can not belive those cookies, they look too good! Great idea filling them with ice-cream, I think I would prefer that version!

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  2. Wow--this is decadence personified! I've got to put these on my "must bake" list. And I love that they are so versatile, too. Anything you can layer ice cream between is a-okay in my book :)

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  4. Looks amazing. ganache, ice cream, or caramel... I 'll try them all!

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