Week 7 of The Great British Bake Off Series 7 had me making the most complex, multi-faceted dessert I think I’ve ever made. (Or maybe this was more complicated. Or maybe this one?) Also, noone has ever heard of Marjolaine, have they? I know a couple of French people and none of them had ever heard of it.
This recipe was 2 full pages of size 10 font and I was still baking. There were so many individual component parts, but I’m just not sure all the effort was worth the end result…!
I did make a hazelnut dacquoise based dessert a long time ago, also for the Great British Bake Off. That went okay, but I did learn a few things. E.g. use the appropriate thing to put the praline onto. (Hence my purchase of a silicone baking mat). And how to get caramel off of a pan (thanks to a random commenter! Just add water to the pan and heat.)
I definitely made mistakes. I think I could have cooked the meringues slightly longer, I think I should have put more ganache in the centre of the cake as I had quite a lot left over, and I should have used unsalted butter for the praline buttercream. And in general the cake was monstrously expensive thanks to the sheer quantity of nuts involved.
But, my syrup was good, my caramel was good, my ganache was lovely (and so easy! – if you ever need ganache, just add simmering double cream to dark chocolate.)
- 125g blanched almonds
- 125g blanched hazelnuts
- 300g caster sugar
- 25g cornflour
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 360g dark chocolate (about 46% cocoa solids)
- 270ml double cream
- 100g blanched almonds
- 300g caster sugar
- 100ml water
- 225g caster sugar
- 75ml water
- pinch of cream of tartar
- 8 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 350g unsalted butter, at room temperature, diced (I accidentally used salted butter and I think this was a massive mistake as you can taste the butter really clearly in this type of buttercream which is set using a soft-ball syrup...)
- 150g flaked almonds
- 50g toasted, chopped hazelnuts
- 50g slivered pistachios
- First, start with the dacquoise. Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, 350F. Tip the almonds and hazelnuts into the bowl of a food processor and blitz until finely ground. Transfer to a roasting tin and toast in the oven, occasionally stirring, for 10-12 minutes. When lightly browned everywhere, tip into a large heatproof bowl and leave to cool before stirring in 100g of the caster sugar and the cornflour.
- Reduce the oven to 150 degrees Celsius, 300F. Put the egg whites into the bowl of a free-standing mixer and whisk on medium speed for about 2 minutes until white and frothy. Increase the whisking speed and gradually add the remaining 200g caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Whisk to a stiff, glossy meringue and scatter the toasted nut mixture on top (make sure it's cooled!) and gently fold into the meringue.
- Divide the meringue equally between 2x 20x30cm swiss roll tins, lined and greased. Spread evenly with an offset palette knife. Bake for 45-60 minutes until lightly golden and firm to the touch. Then leave in the oven but with the oven door open until completely cooled.
- Remove the tins from the oven and gently invert and take off the baking parchment from the bottom. Set aside until required.
- For the chocolate ganache, break up the chocolate into pieces in a heatproof bowl. Heat up the double cream in a small pan until just simmering then pour over the chocolate and stir until completely smooth. (I loved this part).
- For the praline, have the baking sheets, lined with baking paper, ready. (I used a Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat, which worked perfectly and required no prep or complex clean up). Toast the blanched almonds in a dry frying pan, stirring constantly, until they turn golden. Tip the nuts on to a piece of kitchen paper and set aside. In the same pan put in the sugar and water and leave to bubble into the syrup turns a rich golden colour. (170 degrees Celsius on a sugar thermometer). Remove the pan from the heat, quickly adding the toasting almonds and pour over the baking sheet/mat evenly, relatively thinly. Once set, break up the praline and put in a food processor and whiz into a fine powder.
- To make the French buttercream, combine the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a heavy-based pan and heat gently heat until the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring occasionally. Bring to the boil and leave to boil rapidly until the syrup reaches 115 degrees Celsius. (Soft-ball stage on a sugar thermometer).
- Meanwhile, put the egg yolks into the washed bowl of a freestanding mixer. Whisk briefly then gradually whisk in the sugar syrup once it's at temperature. Add in a thin steady stream and continue whisking for 5-10 minutes until the mixture is very thick and completely cooled. Now slowly add the butter bit by bit, whisking until completely amalgamated and very smooth. Fold in the praline powder. Cover and keep chilled ready to use.
- Toast the flaked almonds in the dry frying pan, stirring until golden brown. Tip onto a piece of kitchen paper.
- Carefully cut the dacquoise in half lengthways so you have 4x 10x30cm strips of meringue. Place one strip on a serving plate and spread a quarter of the praline buttercream over the surface. Top with a second strip of the dacquois and cover with a third of the chocolate ganache (don't be shy here, you don't need loooads to ice the top bit of chocolate so might as well get it in here). Add a third layer of dacquoise and spread another quarter of the praline buttercream over it. Set the final strip of dacquoise on top.
- Spread the remaining praline buttercream over the top and sides of the assembled gateau. Press the toasted flaked almonds on all 4 sides. Spoon the remaining ganache into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe around the top edge of the cake, then across the top in 7 diagonal lines. Fill the gaps between the ganache lines with alternating toasted chopped hazelnuts and slivered pistachios. Keep the Marjolaine in the fridge until ready to serve - remove from the fridge 10-15 minutes before eating.
- My dacquoises needed around 55-60 minutes, definitely weren't done at the 45 minute mark.
- I found it really difficult to get the ends of the gateau covered in the praline buttercream which therefore made it difficult to place flaked almonds on these ends because my meringues were just not uniform enough shapes. I also didn't bother with topping with hazelnuts as the recommended amount of pistachios on their own filled the gaps on their own.
I can’t see myself ever making this again, but it was another fun one to try that I would never have even heard of if it weren’t for the Bake Off. Also, this may have been one of the heaviest cakes I’ve ever made despite it being meringue-based.