Dacqouise is an almond meringue dessert usually filled with whipped sweetened cream and fresh apricots. For National Chocolate Cake Day on Expresso Breakfast TV I jiggled the recipes and made this chocolate version, reminiscent of a Black Forest Cherry Cake. Fresh cherries from Klondyke Farm in Ceres did the trick.
For the meringue
80g hazelnuts or almonds, skins removed and finely chopped or ground
4 large egg whites at room temperature
50g soft dark brown sugar
25g castor sugar
50ml cocoa powder
For the chocolate cream
200 g dark chocolate, at least 70 per cent cocoa solids
300 ml thick cream
300 ml crème fraîche
250 – 300g poached or fresh cherries
Extra whipping cream and whole cherries with stems on for garnishing
Method: Make the chocolate meringues first. Line 3 baking trays with a sheet of silicone baking paper and mark with a 20cm circle. Arrange 3 convenient baking shelves in the oven and set the temperature on 190C. Roast the nuts on a baking tray for 5 to 7 minutes, cool and chop very finely or grind. Reset the oven to 110C. Have ready the egg whites, at room temperature, the soft brown sugar and sift together the castor sugar and the cocoa powder with a pinch of fine salt. In a large mixing bowl, and using an electric beater, whisk the egg whites to the soft peak stage, when soft peaks form when the whisk is taken out of the egg whites. Add the castor sugar slowly, whisking all the while, then add the soft brown sugar and whisk until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Fold in the nuts, keeping back a tablespoonful for garnish. Spread the chocolate meringue on the three marked circles and sprinkle the remaining nuts over 1 of the circles – this will be the top one. Bake in the preset oven for 2 hours. Turn off the oven and allow the chocolate meringues to cool completely in the oven. While the meringues are baking, make the chocolate filling. In a bowl over gently simmering water melt the chocolate and allow it to cool slightly. Whip the thick cream lightly to thicken in a separate bowl. Once the chocolate has cooled slightly, gently fold in the crème fraîche first and then cream. The mixture will be smooth and shiny, glossy and will hold its shape. Place a meringue disc on a large serving plate and gently spread half of the chocolate mix on top evenly and right up to the edge. Sprinkle with half of the cherries. Place the second disc neatly on top and spread with the remaining chocolate in exactly the same way as before. Carefully place the nut-sprinkled disc on top. Place in the fridge and chill for at least two hours. Sprinkle with icing sugar and a dusting of cocoa. Pipe some rosettes of whipped cream around the edge and garnish each with a whole cherry.
Serves 6 to 8