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What is a Dacquoise?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 16, 2024
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A dacquoise is a kind of dessert cake. The standard version is made by layering almond and hazelnut meringue with whipped or butter cream. Dacquoise can also refer to the nut meringue itself. Many different kinds of dessert cakes include the term dacquoise in the name, and these usually identify other major flavors as well. Common flavor combinations include raspberry, caramel, and coffee.

The construction of almost all dacquoise cakes is very similar. Layers of meringue, cream, and other toppings are all prepared separately and then assembled on the presentation dish, sometimes with a frosting coating. The resulting cake is then chilled and served. While dacquoise is typically called a cake because of its shape and appearance, its texture and flavor are generally said to have more in common with candy. Even though most of these cakes bear some relative resemblance to one another, there is no assurance that any dessert called dacquoise will taste like any other because of the relative flexibility of the term.

To make a dacquiose, the first step is to make the meringue, which is primarily egg whites and sugar. The meringue layers are prepared by piping meringue disks onto buttered parchment using a pastry bag. These disks are then baked in the oven until they are dry to the touch. After the oven has cooled with the disks inside, these are set aside. Although disks are the most popular shape for this cake, there are also other popular shapes such as rectangles.

Which cream is used between the disks of meringue is largely up to the baker. Buttercream, which is a popular and traditional choice, is usually made of butter, sugar, and eggs. Other flavors may be added to the buttercream as a last step. Or many other soft, creamy fillings may be used instead of buttercream. The cream can be left out entirely in favor of another soft ingredient, too.

Ganache is one of the most popular additions to these two basic components. Roasted nuts or melted chocolate are also frequently used to decorate. Once the components have been finished, layering is typically designed to create an aesthetically pleasing appearance once the cake is cut. It is important to have a filling layer between layers of meringue, so the amount of filling needed depends on how many layers of meringue will be used. The attractiveness of the finished cake depends much more on the neatness of the final construction than on the methods used to make the components, and so this might be considered the most important step when making dacquoise.

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Discussion Comments
By Lostnfound — On Sep 06, 2014

I admit it: I looked this up after hearing Meryl Streep use it in "The Devil Wears Prada." She said something about the tarts should be filled with warm rhubarb compote, not dacquoise.

I'd heard the term, but wasn't exactly sure what it was, so I looked it up. Wow! How complicated do you want to make a dessert, anyway?

I looked up a recipe for it too, and I was just bowled over at how much there is to do for one recipe. If it was for a holiday, I'd have to start the first day of the month to get it ready!

By Grivusangel — On Sep 05, 2014

I saw the folks on "America's Test Kitchen" do a dacquoise one time. There's nothing hugely complicated, but there are something like 200 steps to follow to do it right. Seems like they recommended chilling it after each layer is applied. Like, meringue, cream, meringue, chill. Repeat. It took something like six or eight hours, all told. Not many desserts are worth that much effort, and I'm pretty sure dacquoise isn't either. It's basically a Napoleon with meringue layers instead of putt pastry. I'd much rather fool with puff pastry than deal with making a meringue. Anything that includes beating egg whites to stiff peaks is not going to be on my most favorite recipes list.

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