orange dacquoise biscuits
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Orange dacquoise biscuits, halfway between a macaron and a meringue with a nod towards a soft sponge, are the most fabulous way of using leftover egg whites.
Dacquoise is a cheffy-sounding type of pastry made by folding almond or hazelnut powder into perfectly beaten meringue. It is a meringue which changed its mind at the last moment and decided to be a sponge. The texture sits between a classic macaron, really chewy meringue and airy, nutty sponge. It can be fashioned into biscuits or baked as one large cake base, stacked and layered with frosting into a surreally divine torte.
When I first tasted it, I had a purely Proustian moment: what when? The taste, the texture? With a superhuman recall I remembered that my grandmother used to make such a torte, filled with almond buttercream, the dessert which I in my child’s stupidity would usually spurn (I probably only ever wanted jammy dodgers) and years later tried hard to trace with no success until I met dacquoise.
Curiously enough, my Gran called it ‘Provençal torte’. Now dacquoise claims its name from the city of Dax in south-western France, which is not a million miles away from Provence but isn’t exactly THERE. And Granny was an educated, sophisticated lady so I wouldn’t want to call her geography into question. It must have been an example of shifting food names in different localities: viz. Danish pastries are called viennoiserie in France.
My recipe (as usual the result of researching what is there and combining the best elements of a few) tells you to pipe the mixture onto the baking sheet. Now I completely agree that piping is a major pain, waste of batter and always makes you feel the outcome isn’t worth the effort. I think you can very well dollop the dacquoise batter with a spoon, but considering it’s a French thing, closely related to macarons (those MUST be piped), I would feel irreverent ladling it nonchalantly with a tablespoon. Noblesse oblige, you see. But if you’re convinced life’s too short to pipe, skip it and spoon the mix right onto the baking sheet.
orange dacquoise biscuitsServings: makes about 2 dozen cookiesTime: 35 minutes
- 90g ground almonds
- 90g icing sugar plus extra for dusting
- zest grated from 1 orange
- 1 tsp corn flour
- 3 egg whites (90g)
- a pinch of salt
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
1. Line a large baking tray with parchment.
2. Place the ground almonds in a blender or food processor, add 70g of the icing sugar, orange zest and corn flour and blitz until fine and amalgamated.
3. Beat the egg whites with a hand held mixer or in a standing mixer with a balloon whisk, until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks. Keep on beating and add the remaining 20g icing sugar gradually to the whites; continue until the meringue forms stiff peaks.
4. Sift the almond, sugar and orange powder over the meringue. Fold it in very gently with a spatula, trying not to deflate the mix.
5. Transfer the mixture to a large freezer bag, cut off a bottom corner and twist the top. Pipe small mounds about 4-5cm in diameter, spaced well apart.
6. Dust the biscuits with icing sugar and leave them to stand about 10 minutes while the oven heats up to 180C/350/gas 4. Transfer the tray to the oven and bake for 15 minutes; turn off the oven and leave the biscuits in for another 7-10 minutes, until they are golden and crisp around the edges.
7. Remove from the oven and cool completely on the tray. Store in an airtight box for about a week.