I am really excited about the next couple of cakes as they are gluten free. This particular cake stretches the typical definition of cake, as it is made up of dacquoise disks layered with a tea ganache.
March 28, 2010
Name of cake: Le Succes (souk-say)
Constituents: 3 dacquoise disks and a lemon tea ganache
Maybe its just because I have been baking for a while now, but I am always surprised when people look at me quizzically when I say "ganache." I usually look at them just as quizzically. Then I remind myself that not everybody bakes for a hobby. In the back of Heavenly Cakes (p 429), Rose says that her French dictionary (Cassell's) defines ganache as "a well-padded easy chair." Well, I can only say that eating ganache will make any chair feel well-padded, but you will be the padding. I mean come on--this glorious velvety stuff is simply chocolate and cream. Rose's raspberry ganache is so lovely I have wanted to swim in it. It is hard to say no to something so simple to make but so satisfying to eat. This ganache is a little different to me as it is made with creme fraiche instead of the traditional heavy cream, and it has an additional flavoring agent of not vanilla, not alcohol, not fruit, but instant lemon iced tea. Fascinating!
The most trouble this ganache gave me was in scalding the creme fraiche and cream. Which really isn't any trouble, so that tells you exactly how simple ganache is to make. I used to be on a total losing streak when it came to ganache--I was always overheating the chocolate so that it broke and the ganache would have a pool of cocoa butter floating in the surface. Now I have no idea why I was making it that way, when scalding the cream and adding it to the unmelted chocolate in the food processor has resulted in beautiful unbroken ganaches.
Dacquoise is a word I would expect people to not know, and would probably look at someone quizzically if they did know the word. A dacquoise is simply a meringue to which ground almonds have been added. (Can other nuts be used? Probably, right?) I really like dacquoise as it kills some of the sweetness of a meringue and gives the flavor some depth. In truth, I have only made dacquoise one other time, but it was really great, and dead simple:
Egg whites are beaten to stiff peaks, with the addition of cream of tartar and a little sugar.
The almonds and sugar, which were processed together to a fine powder, are then folded into the meringue in three parts. I wonder if I got a little overzealous and deflated the eggs a bit.
The batter is then piped into three eight inch disks. I have done this before with meringue for other cakes, with varying degrees of success. I hoped that it would all go well with this one, but like I consoled myself in the past, frosting covers a multitude of sins. That, and most people will be happy to eat it, even if it doesn't come out perfect. The batter flowed fairly quickly from the piping bag, which is why I wonder if I had deflated the eggs. I was able to pipe out the three disks and had a little left over to make four little meringue cookies.
Into the oven the disks went for 15 minutes. The first batch came out looking a little browned and thin. Huh, hope that's okay. The third disk didn't brown as much nor did it look so thin. The little meringue cookies I ate pretty much right away, and they were good. Loosening the disks from the parchment was a little difficult, and I tore the third disk a little bit. Maybe next time I'll be sure to thoroughly spray the parchment; I was a little light-handed when I did it.
After the disks are completely cooled, it's time to assemble the Succes. There is a lot of down time in this part of the recipe, so plan accordingly. After frosting the first disk and topping with the second disk (upside down), it is chilled for 1 hour. I assume this is to ensure the disk is sturdy enough to take another round of frosting and stacking. After frosting and stacking with the third disk, it is again chilled for 1 hour. Then you can finish frosting and decorating the Succes, and then you can let it come together for 24 hours before eating. Dang!
As a testament to how cold my kitchen is, I had to warm up and rebeat the ganache after each 1 hour interval. In fact, as I was frosting the top of the third disk and the sides of the completed cake, the ganache on the cake began to get too hard to smooth out. Thankfully I bought a little butane torch a couple of years ago, so I torched the ganache to soften it up enough to finish smoothing out the sides and top. Then I tried just torching the spoon to make the decorative swirl Rose suggests, but that wasn't enough to make a dent so I torched the entire top of the ganache until it looked soft too. Then I was able to drag a spoon through the ganache in a neat spiral. That gave the unexpected but neat effect of a two-tone ganache. Hooray for little butane torches!!
I had about a cup of tea ganache left over after filling and frosting the cake, and you can bet your well-padded easy chair I ate it up with a spoon. It has a very interesting flavor; it doesn't scream LEMON ICED TEA but there's a little something different. You know, it reminds me of Cadbury's milk chocolate. Which is the chocolate I grew up on, so to me that is a good thing.
I tried to keep the layers of ganache on the thin side since the dacquoise is so delicate and the ganache so rich. The almond flavor, to me, is quite muted. In hindsight I wish I had toasted the almonds, which I did last time I made dacquoise. Untoasted, the almonds merely serve to provide a textural crunch to contrast with the velvety chocolate. The ganache is rich, and delicious, but in these thin layers I don't feel like it is too much. But I did eat the last cup of ganache with a spoon last night, so maybe my ganache tolerance is much higher than most.
Also, and not related in any way, I found this on Portland Food and Drink today and thought it was hilarious!