Sometimes I walk around Paris with cake. But I prefer to take it on the metro. Unwieldy plastic cake box in hand, the strangers of this city’s public transportation system relinquish a tiny portion of their private space to me. Though they tend to ignore soon-to-be mothers or cane-wielding grandpas, Parisians respect the rights of a dessert to reach its destination unharmed. This luxury comes at a price.
“Ça a l’air bon,” says the middle-aged woman standing beside me in the metro. In a city where strangers only speak to complain about one of two things (transportation delays and the weather), she’s caught me off guard. I avoid words altogether and smile introvertedly, wondering what French etiquette has to say about offering up slices of metro cake. Not that it really matters. The cake’s for a friend’s party so I’m guarding it with my life.
It’s worth guarding. A meringue mixture ensures that the shells are crisp but satisfyingly chewy — a perfect contrast to the raspberry flecked pastry cream on the inside. Oh and the meringue is covered with a thin layer of nutella to fill my daily quota of chocolate intake. Hazelnut + Chocolate + Raspberry. This is a cake with integrity.
Raspberry Hazelnut Dacquoise:
Makes one 16cm cake (4-6 people)
Before you start:
- You will need some sort of pastry tip for this recipe. I used a 12mm round tip but anything will do (even a fluted one).
- Pastry bag or sturdy zip-loc.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
Hazelnut Meringue Base
90g ground hazelnuts
100g powdered sugar
35g granulated sugar
100g egg whites (about 3 medium eggs)
- Draw two 16cm circles on parchment paper with sharpie and turn over.
- Prepare a pastry bag with a pastry tip.
- Weigh the ground hazelnuts in a medium sized bowl and sift in the powdered sugar (I’m normally not a proponent of sifting anything but it will help ensure an even mixture with the delicate egg whites, so in this case it’s worth it).
- Whisk to combine the hazelnut powder and powdered sugar.
- In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites (by hand, hand mixer or stand mixer — anything is possible!).
- When white and nearing the soft peaks stage, add half of the granulated sugar.
- Once incorporated, add the other half.
- Continue until the egg whites make firm peaks (you should be able to turn the bowl upside down without anything falling out).
- Put away the whisk, pour the hazelnut mixture onto the egg whites. Fold gently with a rubber spatula.*
- As soon as the mixture is combined (better to undermix in this case), transfer mixture into pastry bag.
- Pipe two spirals following the guidelines on the parchment paper.
- Cook in the middle of the oven until golden for 10-14 minutes.
- Remove from baking sheet and allow to cool on a flat surface.
*Be sure to combine tenderly. Anything other than a light hand will cause the volume of the egg whites to decrease and mixture will rise less in the oven.
Raspberry Pastry Cream
30g egg yolks (about two yolks)
12g custard powder
75g butter (split into 50g at room temperature and 25g cold and cubed)
250 grams raspberries
- Split the butter into 50g and 25g.
- In a saucepan combine the milk with 1/4 of the sugar.
- Combine the yolks with the rest of the sugar and whisk in the flour and custard powder
- When milk boils, pour 3/4 into the egg mixture while whisking to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
- Pour eggs into the pan with the remaining milk.
- Whisk slowly on medium heat until the cream boils. Make sure to whisk throughly, ensuring none of the mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan.
- Immediately after boiling, take the pan off the stove and add 25g butter.
- Transfer the mixture into a stainless steel or glass bowl.
- After the cream has cooled, whisk the remaining 50g of butter in a separate bowl until fluffy and add to the cream.
- Continue whisking until cream lightens and increases in volume (about 2 minutes by hand).
- Incorporate 20g nutella.
- Choose 125g of the less attractive raspberries and crush with the back of a fork. Add the purée to the cream.
- Gather both sides of the meringue base and cover each half with a thin layer of nutella (should be applied to the side which was touching the baking sheet).
- On the bottom half, apply whole raspberries along the outer rim.
- Use a pastry bag (or zip-loc bag) and a pastry tip to create a spiral of raspberry cream all the way up to the raspberries along the perimeter.
- Add the second disk and decorate as desired.