November 1, 2013

Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise and a Cook's Illustrated Giveaway


I collect baking cookbooks like they're going out of style; I absolutely love them and get so many ideas and inspirations for this blog.  The most used and beloved book in my library, Baking Illustrated, is also the ugliest; a torn cover and well worn pages smudged and stained from flour, butter and chocolate are evidence of that.


You can't imagine how excited I was when I found out that America's Test Kitchen was publishing a follow-up, appropriately called The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book.  Would it be as good - dare I say better - than it's predecessor?   When America's Test Kitchen reached out to me to ask if I would like to review the book for the blog the answer was obvious and definite...YES!!!  Regular readers know I pretty much love all things from America's Test Kitchen, let's face it I'm a bit of a groupie!, so the probability of me not liking the new book were slim to none.

After staying up late one night to read through the entire book I can honestly say I wasn't disappointed in the least.  The Baking Book continues the successful formula synonymous with all ATK cookbooks; they do the testing (and hard work) and you get the fantastic results. With 450 delicious recipes, along with explanations and descriptions of why they work, home bakers of ALL levels, novice to expert, will find recipes to match their experience and comfort level.  Baking can be daunting but I can assure you that this cookbook makes it less so.

 

As a monthly online subscriber to Cook's Illustrated magazine I have previously made several of the recipes featured in the new baking book and I can tell you from personal experience they definitely work.  Among my favorites are these ones that I make repeatedly: Croissants (AMAZING!), Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes, Fluffy Yellow Layer Cake, Chewy Brownies and Blueberry Pie.   I was delighted to discover so many new recipes, especially the breads and pizzas!


To celebrate the publication of The Baking Book I decided to make a real showstopper of a dessert that I haven't previously made, Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise.  At first glance it looks like an intimidating recipe but in reality was actually quite straight forward.  I followed the instructions to the letter and the results looked just like in the book.   The crunchy, nutty meringue layered with bittersweet chocolate ganache and coffee buttercream was irresistible and surprisingly not too sweet.  On top of that the recipe is 100% gluten-free.  Think I'll be making it again for the holidays!   Like I've said before, "ATK = SUCCESS!"


Now you can be witness for yourself...the nice folks at ATK have kindly offered to send a copy of The Baking Book to one of you!  

Here's how to enter:

Leave a comment to this blog post answering the following question:

What's your favorite thing to bake?  If you don't bake, what would you like to learn to bake?

IMPORTANT: You MUST include your email address with your comment; sorry, but that's the only way I can contact the winner.  Contest ends on Friday, November 8th at 11:59 PM PST.  One entry per person.  Open to US residents only.  Good luck!

Contest is closed!  The winner of the cookbook is Jan who loves to make cupcakes.  Thanks to all who entered!


Chocolate Espresso Dacquoise

Meringue
3/4 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar  

Buttercream
3/4 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons amaretto or water
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Ganache 
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons corn syrup
12 whole hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
1 cup blanched sliced almonds, toasted

For the meringue: 
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Using ruler and pencil, draw 13 by 10 1/2-inch rectangle on piece of parchment paper. Grease baking sheet and place parchment on it, ink side down.

Process almonds, hazelnuts, cornstarch, and salt in food processor until nuts are finely ground, 15 to 20 seconds. Add 1/2 cup sugar and pulse to combine, 1 to 2 pulse.

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft, billowy mounds, about 1 minute. With mixer running at medium-high speed, slowly add remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold nut mixture into egg whites in 2 batches.

With offset spatula, spread meringue evenly into 13 by 10 1/2-inch rectangle on parchment, using lines on parchment as guide. Using spray bottle, evenly mist surface of meringue with water until glistening. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and allow meringue to cool in oven for 1 1/2 hours. (Do not open oven during baking and cooling.) Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes. (Cooled meringue can be kept at room temperature, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 2 days.)

For the buttercream:
Heat milk in small saucepan over medium heat until just simmering. Meanwhile, whisk yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in bowl until smooth. Remove milk from heat and, whisking constantly, add half of milk to yolk mixture to temper. Whisking constantly, return tempered yolk mixture to remaining milk in saucepan. Return saucepan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is bubbling and thickens to consistency of warm pudding, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer pastry cream to bowl. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Before using, warm gently to room temperature in microwave at 50 percent power, stirring every 10 seconds.

Stir together amaretto and espresso powder; set aside. Using stand mixer fitted with paddle, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and light, 3 to 4 minutes. Add pastry cream in 3 batches, beating for 30 seconds after each addition. Add amaretto mixture and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes longer, scraping down bowl thoroughly halfway through mixing.

For the ganache:
Place chocolate in heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Pour cream mixture over chocolate and let stand for 1 minute. Stir mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool until chocolate mounds slightly when dripped from spoon, about 5 minutes.

Carefully invert meringue and peel off parchment. Reinvert meringue and place on cutting board. Using serrated knife and gentle, repeated scoring motion, trim edges of meringue to form 12 by 10-inch rectangle. Discard trimmings. With long side of rectangle parallel to counter, use ruler to mark both long edges of meringue at 3-inch intervals. Using serrated knife, score surface of meringue by drawing knife toward you from mark on top edge to corresponding mark on bottom edge. Repeat scoring until meringue is fully cut through. Repeat until you have four 10 by 3-inch rectangles. (If any meringues break during cutting, use them as middle layers.)

Place 3 rectangles on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Using offset spatula, spread 1/4 cup ganache evenly over surface of each meringue. Refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 15 minutes. Set aside remaining ganache.

Using offset spatula, spread top of remaining rectangle with 1/2 cup buttercream; place on wire rack with ganache-coated meringues. Invert 1 ganache-coated meringue, place on top of buttercream, and press gently to level. Repeat, spreading meringue with 1/2 cup buttercream and topping with inverted ganache-coated meringue. Spread top with buttercream. Invert final ganache-coated strip on top of cake. Use 1 hand to steady top of cake and spread half of remaining buttercream to lightly coat sides of cake, then use remaining buttercream to coat top of cake. Smooth until cake resembles box. Refrigerate until buttercream is firm, about 2 hours. (Once buttercream is firm, assembled cake may be wrapped tightly in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Warm remaining ganache in heatproof bowl set over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally, until mixture is very fluid but not hot. Keeping assembled cake on wire rack, pour ganache over top of cake. Using offset spatula, spread ganache in thin, even layer over top of cake, letting excess flow down sides. Spread ganache over sides in thin layer (top must be completely covered, but some small gaps on sides are OK).

Garnish top of cake with hazelnuts. Holding bottom of cake with 1 hand, gently press almonds onto sides with other hand. Chill on wire rack, uncovered, for at least 3 hours or up to 12 hours. Transfer to platter. Cut into slices with sharp knife that has been dipped in hot water and wiped dry before each slice. Serve.


103 comments:

  1. The Marion Barros plum torte. Every time I bake it I am reminded of how easy a recipe it is, and how it's perfect every time.

    molly.parr@gmail.com

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  2. I love to bake any sort of muffin! Easy to learn, hard to master.

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  3. I love to bake cupcakes! With not-too-sweet buttercream on top :)

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  4. I live baking many things, but lately pretzels have become my favorite. So damn good fresh out of the oven!

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  5. Love ATK! I have been using Baking Illustrated and their Best Recipe book for years. One of my favorite things to bake from Baking Illustrated is the Double Chocolate Chip Cookie (ok, let's be honest, I always do the triple-chocolate version). And back in college, the thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies were deemed "best girlfriend cookies" by my boyfriend's Frisbee team. I guess I should say, my HUSBAND's Frisbee team. :)

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  6. I'm not a great baker, but I do enjoy making my family's birthday cakes and decorating them to a theme of their choosing - Cars, Hello Kitty, Polar Express, Star Trek, wild animals, flowers, etc.
    Kim H - reidandkim@yahoo.com

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  7. My favorite thing to bake is big beautiful muffins. So versatile and tasty. The ATK recipe is my go-to. jtw.cali@yahoo.com

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  8. I LOVE to bake! My favorite would have to be cupcakes. I'd love to learn how to bake macarons. I've tried many times with no luck-

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  9. I forgot my email sorry
    jansanderson70[at]gmail.com

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  10. I love to bake. Pies, muffins, cakes...I will say that I have yet to successfully master the vanilla (yellow or white) cake from scratch. Maybe if I win the book it will happen. Plus, this thing I cannot pronounce which you have made here? OMG, do you need to get rid of leftovers? I"ll trade you some CI Pasta & Fagioli soup.

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  11. What's your favorite thing to bake?

    My favorite thing to bake would be pies.
    sarahmroach@gmail.com

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  12. My favorite thing to bake is bread! It's so satisfying to pull a freshly baked loaf of something delicious out of the oven.

    Of course I love baking cookies and other sweets too.

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  13. Anonymous11/01/2013

    I love baking bread and cookies!
    kari _ nasvik (at) hotmail.com

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  14. I love to make (and eat) lemon bars.
    maisiefgreene@gmail.com

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  15. I love baking quickbreads - they're so easy and delicious!

    Your cake looks AMAZING though, they could have used these pictures for the book! ;)

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  16. I'm not a baker, so I'd like to learn how to bake cakes.

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  17. My favorite thing to bake is anything with chocolate!

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  18. I would love to conquer baking a dark chocolate soufflé! Mollydce@yahoo.com

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  19. I enjoy baking french macarons; although, I don't always have success. Thanks for offering to gift the book. cgreeves@comcast.net

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  20. Pie of pretty much any sort.

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  21. My favorite thing to bake is yeast breads!

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  22. Jodi Calhoun11/01/2013

    Well, I love to bake cookies, but I'll try almost any recipe in an America's Test Kitchen cookbook.

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  23. So many things come to mind- but I just love the simplicity of a really good cookie. Easy, versatile, delicious and appropriate for so many occasions!
    elagudi@yahoo.com

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  24. I love to bake Boston Cream Pie!

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  25. this cake, OMG this cake looks amazing!

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  26. I love to bake bread and eclairs.

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  27. I absolutely love baking!!! My favorite food to bake is cakes.

    Efurstenberg12@yahoo.com

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  28. Anonymous11/02/2013

    I love to make bread. This cake looks so lovely! shannonc at jhu dot edu

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  29. My favorite thing to bake is a simple, delicious, buttery pound cake. The Cook's Illustrated recipe, even! And although it's not technically baking, I do love making tiramisu. So fun and rewarding, not to mention divine!

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  30. My favorite thing to bake is a simple, delicious, buttery pound cake. The Cook's Illustrated recipe, even! And although it's not technically baking, I do love making tiramisu. So fun and rewarding, not to mention divine! meggan@culinaryhill.com

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  31. My favorite thing to bake is my family members' birthday cakes. I take special requests, and figure out how to make it work. One sister asked for a peanut butter and chocolate cake--the end result was a chocolate bundt cake filled with peanut butter mousse and covered in dark chocolate ganache. It turned out great! And I love seeing the looks on their faces. :) jennrlucas@gmail.com

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  32. Kathleen11/02/2013

    Love to bake everything but thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies will always have a special place in my heart!
    myborrowedkitchen@gmail.com

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  33. Your dacquoise looks amazing! I love baking! I made my new favorite yesterday: Snickerdoodle Pumpkin Bars.
    Torrey (ikedatorrey@gmail.com)

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  34. I love making fruit pies in the summer
    karenreichmann@hotmail.com

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  35. Favorite is a dairy-free carmelitta recipe as the caramel, chocolate, nuts, and cookie layers are rich and decedent. But in terms of actual baking process, I love making rolls because of the rolling component.

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  36. I left out my email. thatcher #at# ouruptown #.com#

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  37. Anonymous11/02/2013

    Macarons!! snoblosm@hotmail.com

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  38. Well done on the Dacquoise! I am all about baking cookies. One of life's simplest and greatest pleasures!

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  39. Anonymous11/02/2013

    I love to make all kinds of cookies! bjn1957{at}gmail{dot}com

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  40. I love to bake my mother's recipe for Red Velvet Cake. waytoomanycats (@) gmail (.) com.

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  41. i love to bake challah.

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  42. My favorite thing to bake for myself is easy stuff - muffins, beer bread, pizza. But I do love a show stopper cake like The German Chocolate Cake I am making next weekend!

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  43. My favorite thing to bake is Cook's Illustrated's Apple Galette. It's just crust and thinly sliced apples. Delicious and beautiful. shipleypowell@gmail.com

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  44. Anonymous11/03/2013

    What is my favorite thing to bake? For me, anything with chocolate!!!!! A German Chocolate Cake or a Salty Caramel Chocolate Cake with a Ganache Topping always is a crowd pleaser. mk-t@comcast.net

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  45. That looks AMAZING!!! WOW! I might just make that over the holidays. ;)

    My favorite thing, well things technically, to bake are cookies, all kinds of them! I'm always trying out new cookie recipes. While I do love baking all sorts of things (cakes, cupcakes, muffins, scones, baklava, brownies, etc.), I tend to make cookies the most as they are great small treats that are easy to share at events and parties. :)
    (ms_random_mo [at] rocketmail [dot] com)

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  46. Cookies, bars & cake! I'd love to advance to tortes, pastry & other more complicated stuff. Wonderful job on that Dacquoise!

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  47. (Oops, not sure whether you can see my email address: ccnomadwrites @ gmail . com)

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  48. Birthday cakes for my children.

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  49. Anonymous11/03/2013

    My favorite thing to bake is my family's old German pumpkin pie

    bkhurley@hawaii.edu

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  50. Anonymous11/04/2013

    I go through phases of favorites. Awhile ago it was pie, more recently upside-down anything. At the present, my favorite is anything that 1. uses seasonal ingredients, and 2. I have not baked before. I, too, collect books and am trying to utilize them ALL. A daunting task, I must admit. Thanks for sharing! tartsandtortes@gmail.com

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  51. Anonymous11/04/2013

    I would love to learn how to bake the perfect apple pie.

    SJEble@outlook.com

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  52. I have that daquoise planned for christmas dinner's dessert!

    I really want to learn to make pretzel bread; but am a little afraid of the 'lye dip'!

    shelley@the-butler-did-it.com

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  53. Anonymous11/04/2013

    This looks absolutely wonderful - show stopper indeed! Thanks for sharing. I love to bake just about anything, but within the past year have learned how to make croissants, and they have become my new favorite. They take a bit of work, yes, but the payoff is enormous! - snkunz@gmail.com

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  54. I love baking Tres Leches Cakes and fresh bread.

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  55. Right now, my favourite thing to bake is Nigella Lawson's choco-hoto-pots. They're super simple to pull together and so versatile in how you can customise them! They're also amazingly satisfying for how easy they are~!

    tihuynh77@gmail.com

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  56. I love to bake just about everything and am excited to try the above desert.
    nee_neee@yahoo.com

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  57. Anonymous11/05/2013

    I love to bake "Requests" whenever I want to thank someone for something I ask them what their favorite dessert is and then I make if for them (from scratch of course) This way I get to try lots of new things and they get to feel really special.
    jamie4@nycap.rr.com

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  58. Wow - happy I came across this on Facebook! Your dessert is absolutely stunning!

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  59. I would like to learn to make croissants. :)

    beth_bransford@gap.com

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  60. Anonymous11/05/2013

    My favorite thing to bake is anything in cookie form...so many options - chocolate chips, peanut butter, oats, gluten free, nuts...plus when eaten within minutes out of the oven there is nothing better....Cookies are amazing and comforting.
    RAFNYC@gmail.com

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  61. Anonymous11/05/2013

    Favorite thing? Tie between apple pie and my grandmother-in-law's coffee cake. Both get really gratifying responses from the family! six.wags@hotmail.com

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  62. I love anything chocolate, but brownies the best
    eksahlman@gmail.com

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  63. Caroline11/05/2013

    I love to bake cheesecakes and just tried the ATK pumpkin cheesecake which was awesome...this looks so good, I want to try it (hopefully I will win the cookbook, :) ) secantulfind@gmail.com

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  64. I love making different quick breads in the fall and winter months. I actually have made ATK's Pumpkin Bread two weekends in a row. It's the best :)

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  65. Anonymous11/05/2013

    I have a recipe for a flourless chocolate torte that I make every year at Passover. My kids say it's the reason they make the long trip home each year for the Seder. The rest of the year, I bake fruit crisps with whatever fruit is in season. Delicious for breakfast with plain yogurt on top. tkw@terrywheeler.com

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  66. Sorry, forgot to include my email address with my earlier comment (sonya@ameritest.net)

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  67. I don't bake but would love to learn how to make soft pretzels. My guilty pleasure.

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  68. Anonymous11/05/2013

    I LOVE baking bread. I'm on the search for a moist bakery like cake recipe however. mills.jessica7861@yahoo.com

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  69. Cookies! All kinds of cookies. I just made a ton of "Witches Fingers" for Halloween!
    mddraus@hotmail.com

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  70. Beautiful! I like baking cupcakes...of the Ultimate Chocolate variety of course ;-) You can't go wrong with Cook's Illustrated. I am kind of obsessed with all things CI, and have this book on my wish list for Christmas. Fingers crossed!

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  71. Anonymous11/05/2013

    I collect cookbooks old or new, baking is a passion! I love to create a beautiful cake, I have a decadent chocolate, chocolate double layer cake that has the capability to make a grown person cry with delight and joy! I would love to win this cookbook! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe! Sherri vintagepinksky@hotmail.com

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  72. Whoopie pies, cookies, sticky toffee pudding and bread pudding.
    beautiful1000000@gmail.com

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  73. My favorite thing to bake is a Chocolate Raspberry Torte, it's so delectable! I think it also helped my boyfriend say "She's the one!" I'd love to learn how to make Napoleons, it's my favorite bakery go to for a special treat. My e-mail is shamrcknrol@aol.com. Thanks!

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  74. Anonymous11/05/2013

    I don't bake but I'd love to learn how to make soft pretzels.
    rsfite@gmail.com

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  75. Kristan11/05/2013

    I like to bake seasonally, so right now I'm in a pumpkin phase - pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin brownies, and pumpkin cookies with brown butter frosting. The ATK cookbooks are very easy to follow. I appreciate the work they do. Your dacquoise looks very tasty; well done! admin@missunshine.com

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  76. Anonymous11/05/2013

    My family's favorite cake for family gatherings...I make a Pineapple Cake for dessert.
    siuzee@hotmail.com

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  77. Anonymous11/05/2013

    Flourless chocolate torte is the most delicious. I would love to try this dacquoise!!
    my yahoo email is kelldeu

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  78. Anonymous11/05/2013

    Biscotti is my go to holiday treat, but this looks amazing. Will have to try it
    jawk@aol.com

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  79. Anonymous11/05/2013

    I love to bake Guinness Brownies...

    gitaanne@yahoo.com

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  80. Anonymous11/05/2013

    any kind of brownies are my favorite to bake (and eat!) yogaphan@aol.com

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  81. Anonymous11/05/2013

    My favorite thing to bake is muffins.

    tdlzing at google dot com

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  82. Anonymous11/06/2013

    I would love to learn to successfully bake pecan rolls, cinnamon raisin rolls or some kind of ooey-gooey cinnamon roll. I've tried 6 times over the years and end up thinking that maybe I should just quit wasting all the ingredients...sigh....The refrigerated rolls in the tube taste better than what I achieve....

    peet.moss1@hotmail.com

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  83. Anonymous11/06/2013

    I bake a wonderful Lemon-Thyme cake with a simple lemon glaze. I like to mix sweet with savory thing - especially herbs! Also, shortbread - very versatile!lisa.york7@gmail.com

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  84. Anonymous11/06/2013

    One of my favorites to bake is a Hummingbird Cake.
    I cannot lie; it's as easy as pie.
    Everyone swoons, as they pick up their spoons,
    And say, "I'll eat this cake 'til the day I die!"
    RubyBernardo@aol.com

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  85. Anonymous11/07/2013

    I love to bake breads, but fairly recently learned the wonders of puff pastry/croissants and really enjoy making them!
    Vickie
    Pacsmb@aol.com

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  86. Anonymous11/07/2013

    Lately, I'm enjoying baking muffins and dinner rolls. I would love to make a red velvet cake since that happens to be one of my favorite desserts. jenali@me.com

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  87. Anonymous11/07/2013

    I love to bake cakes, cookies, but mostly cheesecakes! My specific favorites to bake are Red Velvet cake and NY style cheesecake!

    Sheryl
    sherylbm@gmail.com

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  88. Anonymous11/07/2013

    I love baking breads. Would love to attempt baking croissants some day!
    cpierceorama@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  89. I have seen and drooled over this dacquoise for a long time now. Yours came out just absolutely perfect, just like the book! Wonderful job...I can imagine how delicious it was! And I love to bake - probably cookies and muffins are my standby but I love learning any kind of easy, delicious (preferably, chocolate) recipes. : )

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  90. i forgot my email (canmdean@gmail.com)

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  91. I don't bake much, so when I do it's my recipe for pineapple upside down cinnamon rolls.

    Evan (edobkin@gmail.com)

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  92. I love baking cookies. Classic!

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  93. Lauraborelious@gmail.com I love making ATK's Eggplant Parm. Dinner rolls are also delicious!

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  94. It's hard to decide which is my favorite sweet treat to make...I would have to say pound cake and chocolate chip cookies (it's a tie!!). Mrswisbech@gmail.com

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  95. I love to bake peanut butter cookies but my kids are dying for me to make an Oreo or nutella cheesecake. (bjf6@aol.com)

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  96. Anonymous11/08/2013

    Anything with chocolate.
    immekat@yahoo.com

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  97. My favorite thing to bake is meringue!

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  98. My favorite thing to bake is meringue! beccaentenberg@gmail.com

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  99. Anonymous11/11/2013

    I love to bake cookies and pies! Anything chocolate! Really any type of dessert!
    (chunkychunkysoup@gmail.com)

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  100. Made this last week to raves. Thanks. I used blanched slivered instead of blanched sliced for the meringue. But I used I blanched sliced for the outside.

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  101. I made this yesterday and cannot tell you how good it is!! The recipe looks complicated, but if you break this down into its component tasks (meringue, then buttercream, then ganache) it makes it much less scary.

    Full disclosure--a small corner of the meringue broke off while I was cutting it, and much to my delight I found that it is delicious all by itself. So good that I think forming the meringue into pillowy tufts then baking them would be a fabulous dessert all by themselves.

    This recipe is a winner, and as I get more comfortable with it, I'm sure it will become my go-to dessert for parties and entertaining. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!!

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