my annual attempt at sans rival…
=almond meringue gateau= dacquoise.
i think sans rival is the best name, for it means no contest, no equal… beyond compare?
i went out on a “date” of sorts last night.
#1son, asked to pick a parent to bring to the School Committee meeting where he would be given an award, picked me. he picked me! he picked me! he didn’t want to bring his two younger sibs and one parent had to stay home with them. he shook hands with the mayor.
very bad shot, i was shaking like a leaf and twice pressed the on/off button instead of the shutter…(mayor in tan suit, sonny in white tucked out oxford shirt)
forgive me, i just am bursting with pride and i have no other outlet but here…Chinese way, we must not boast or brag. and #1son shot virtual daggers at me at the mama’s day banquet for bringing the newspaper clipping to show his extended family. oops. this Pinay mama sat on her hands to keep from bursting out in song and dance. i just reminded myself i should not embarrass him in front of his peers….
he wanted some cookies or cake as a reward
i found this recipe in Anne Willan’s “Perfect Desserts,” one of a series of luxuriously illustrated paperback cookbooks (i have 7 of the little things). this is the one recipe i will work on from this moment on, because it yields a family-size cake of crunchy texture and creamy buttercream icing. it still needs tweaking because the original method calls for 250F at 40-50 minutes but i had to extend that and ultimately increase the oven temp. result: heavenly!
i have attempted so many times and once in a while i chicken out and make schwarzwalder torte instead (which my kids adore anyway, for its chocolate coating and whipped cream icing).
the pistachio embellishment is an idea from lori’s dessert comes first which truly pushed me to try and bake this again despite the fact that it calls for quite a lot of baking equipment, counter, sink and dishwasher real-estate…my version is quite… er homey. homely? heehee.
1. make the nut meringue:
prepare the baking sheets: brush 3 baking sheets with melted butter and line them with parchment paper. butter the paper and sprinkle it with flour, discarding the excess. with your finger or the tip of a chopstick, trace a circle using an upturned 8-inch cake pan as a guide.
toast 2 cups almonds–whole or slivered– (or cashews, pistachios, or hazelnuts) in the oven for 12- 15 minutes (rub the hazelnuts, if using with a clean cloth towel to remove the skins). (for this recipe i toasted and chopped 1/2 cup pistachios separately for decorating the cake)
in the workbowl of a food processor, put 3/4 cup granulated sugar together with the almonds and pulse until coarsely ground. (do not overwork or they will turn pasty). transfer to a bowl and stir in 2 tbsps. cornstarch.
put 6 egg whites in the metal bowl of electric mixer and beat until stiff peaks form. sprinkle in 3/4 cup granulated sugar and continue beating until glossy to make a light meringue. fold in nut/cornstarch mixture in three batches, gently so meringue stays light.
2. bake the meringue rounds.
heat the oven to 300F. divide the nut meringue evenly among the circles and spread it out with a metal spatula inside the marked lines to make 3 even, flat disks. (or pipe with a pastry bag and plain tip).
bake the nut meringue rounds in the heated oven, rotating the baking sheets occasionally (or use the convection mode) until the rounds are all lightly browned and feel dry to the touch, about 40-50 minutes.
remove the baking sheets from the oven. while the meringue is still warm, trim the edges with a small serrated knife, using the cake pan as a guide. carefully peel off the paper, transfer meringue rounds to a wire rack and cool completely.
3. make the butter cream
put 2/3 cup water and 3/4 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan and stir until dissolved over medium heat. stop stirring and let it boil up into a syrup to the soft ball stage (239F in the candy thermometer, or as thick as corn syrup but not golden brown yet).
while the syrup is boiling, beat 6 egg yolks in a large bowl just until mixed.
with the mixer running at medium high speed, gradually pour the hot syrup in a thin steady stream, beating constantly. (avoid hitting the metal beaters so the syrup won’t spin out in threads.)
continue beating at medium-high speed until the mixture is cool and forms a thick mousse, about 5 minutes.
cream 1& 1/2 sticks unsalted butter in a medium bowl and beat with an electric mixer or wooden spoon until it is smooth and creamy.
gradually add the butter to the cool egg mousse and beat to combine.
beat in up to 3 tbsps. amaretto (i used just 1 tbsp.; alternatively use kirsch), depending on your taste.
you may trim the meringues to perfect little 8-inch rounds. i just set one round on my serving plate, spread 1/4 of the buttercream, then repeat with the next two rounds. use the remaining buttercream to frost the top and sides.
(my assistant pastry chef got a bit carried away and used up a lot of the frosting on the top! but boy did he have fun.)
we decorated the top with chopped toasted pistachio nuts for some green. a celebratory cake! #1son said it was so good it was baaaaad.
bonus photo: jackjack looking alarmed while i was belting out in song while cooking. #2son hid upstairs!