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Pistachio-Lemon Dacquoise

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Serves 10 to 12

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 128

Pistachio-flecked meringue layers contrast a tangy, creamy lemon curd filling in this stunning dacquoise. Perfect for a special occasion, this make-ahead dessert needs at least 24 hours in the refrigerator before serving to soften a bit.

For the meringue layers
  • 6 oz. (1-1/4 cups) shelled whole pistachios; plus 1/4 cup coarsely chopped for garnish
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1-1/4 cups superfine sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
For the filling
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1-3/4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 3/8 tsp. table salt
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 5 lemons)
  • 8 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 13 oz. (1-1/2 cups plus 2 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cool but not cold
Make the meringue layers

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 250°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 10x4-inch rectangles on each piece of paper, and then turn the paper over (you’ll still see the rectangles).

Put the whole pistachios, confectioners’ sugar, and salt in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely chopped but not ground.

Combine the egg whites and superfine sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with 2 inches of very warm tap water. Whisk by hand until the sugar is completely dissolved, 3 to 4 minutes. (To test, rub the whites between your fingertips; you should feel no grit.) Add the vanilla and the cream of tartar. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand held electric mixer, beat on low speed initially and then, over the course of about 1 minute, increase to medium high and beat until glossy, stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes.

Tip:
While Swiss meringues like this one are traditionally beaten over a pan of simmering water, substituting very hot tap water works just as well to melt the sugar, without the risk of overcooking the egg whites.

Using a large silicone spatula, gently fold the pistachio mixture into the meringue. Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 3/4 inch plain tip. Pipe the outline of each rectangle and then pipe to fill in each rectangle, smoothing any gaps with the tip. (Alternatively, spoon the meringue onto the parchment rectangles and spread to fill.)

Bake for 45 minutes. Swap positions of the baking sheets and bake until crisp and very lightly colored, about 15 minutes more.

Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the oven to dry completely, at least 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheets on racks. Carefully peel off the parchment. (If not using right away, store airtight at room temperature for up to 2 days.)

Make the filling

In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, zest, cornstarch, and salt until blended. Add the juice, yolks, and cream, and whisk until smooth.

Melt 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) of the butter in a 2- to 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Off the heat, whisk in the lemon juice mixture. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil, about 6 minutes. Using a silicone spatula, press the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and cool, stirring occasionally, until the lemon curd is just warm (95°F to 100°F), about 20 minutes.

Cut the remaining 10 oz. (20 Tbs.) butter into 1-inch chunks.

Transfer the lemon curd to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or transfer it to a large bowl and use a hand-held mixer). Beat the lemon curd on medium speed, adding one chunk of butter at a time. After all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium high and beat until smooth, about 3 minutes. (The finished temperature should be 70°F to 76°F. If too cold or too warm, the filling will appear curdled. If necessary, whisk over hot or ice cold water briefly to adjust.)

Assemble the cake

On a flat platter measuring at least 12 inches by 6 inches (or on a heavy piece of cardboard wrapped in foil), spread 1 Tbs. of the filling and top with a meringue layer. Using an offset spatula, spread with about 1 cup of the filling. Repeat with the remaining meringue layers and filling. Garnish with the chopped pistachios. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours to soften the meringue layers slightly before serving. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing with a serrated knife and serving.

Make Ahead Tips

The assembled, garnished cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 560, Fat (kcal): 38, Fat Calories (g): 340, Saturated Fat (g): 20, Protein (g): 7, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 13, Carbohydrates (mg): 48, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 4, Sodium (g): 160, Cholesterol (g): 200, Fiber (g): 2,

Photo: Scott Phillips

If you like Pistachio, lemon and meringue this is the dessert for you.It is fabulous! foxprof

I have made this twice now with great success. The flavor is fantastic and it is beautiful too!

The finished cake looks beautiful, however the lemon cream is too heavy for the light meringue layers. I agree with previous comment that the cream feels like eating lemon butter. I also find the cake too sweet. My friends enjoyed it but I would not make it again.

Stunning and delicious! The meringue layers created an excellent balance of flavor with the filling. Extremely rich though; a few bites is all it takes to fill up, so slice accordingly:)

I made the lemon curd from this recipe and used it between lemon cake layers, with the whole thing covered in 7-minute meringue icing. The cake was a hit, and the lemon curd filling was singled out as being especially good. I was worried that it was too buttery tasting, but when paired with the cake and the sweet icing, it worked wonderfully.

Very tasty and really needs to sit a day to let the merange pick up the right chewy texture.

My daughter recently requested this for her birthday cake. It's spectacular-looking but I found it a bit disappointing to actually eat. The meringue is quite fragile (and mostly air) so it crumbles and gets lost compared to the rich, tangy filling. After a few bites it felt like I was just eating a helping of sweet lemony butter. I liked the pistachio-lemon combination but I think I would have enjoyed the pairing much more if the pistachio was in the form of a denser cake or even a shortbread, topped or layered with lemon curd. As a footnote, when I was making the meringue 'planks' I piped the leftover meringue onto the baking sheets as a few little macarons. They were great!

Delicious, and fairly straightforward to make.

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