Coffee Dacquoise Hearts
2/3 cup hazelnuts
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon sugar
3 large egg whites at room temperature
Pinch of cream of tartar
4 teaspoons instant-espresso powder
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon warm water
4 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into
pieces and softened
Special equipment: a 3 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter or
a 3 1/2-inch heart-shaped cardboard template; a pastry
bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain tip; and a candy
Prepare hazelnuts: Preheat oven to 350°F.
Toast nuts in a shallow baking pan in middle of oven
until skins are split and nuts are golden, 10 to 12
minutes. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and rub to
remove skins (not all skins will come off), then cool.
Finely chop 1/3 cup nuts and reserve.
Make meringue hearts: Finely grind remaining 1/3 cup
whole nuts with cornstarch and 1 teaspoon sugar in a
food processor (do not allow to become a paste).
Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/4 cup sugar.
Reduce oven to 250°F.
Cover 2 baking sheets with foil. Using cutter or
cardboard template as a guide, trace 6 hearts on each
sheet with pointed end of a toothpick (for a total of
12). Brush foil lightly with oil.
Beat egg whites and a pinch of salt with an electric
mixer until foamy, then add cream of tartar and
continue to beat until whites hold soft peaks.
Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar, beating until whites just
hold stiff, glossy peaks. Fold in ground-nut mixture
gently but thoroughly and transfer meringue to pastry
Staying within traced lines, pipe 4 solid hearts and 2
hearts with a heart-shaped space in center on each
baking sheet (there may be meringue left over). Bake
in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position
of sheets halfway through baking, until dry and pale
golden, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Cool 10 minutes, then
carefully peel meringues off foil and transfer to a
rack to cool completely.
Make buttercream: Stir together espresso powder and 1
teaspoon warm water until dissolved.
Bring remaining 1/4 cup warm water and remaining 1/2
cup sugar to a boil in a very small heavy saucepan
over moderate heat, covered, stirring occasionally
until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, washing
down sugar crystals from side of pan with a pastry
brush dipped in water, until candy thermometer
registers 238°F or a drop of syrup forms a soft ball
when dropped into a cup of cold water.
When syrup reaches boil, start beating yolks in a bowl
with electric mixer until thick and pale.
When syrup reaches soft-ball stage, slowly pour it in
a thin stream down side of bowl into yolks, beating
constantly. Continue to beat at high speed until cool
to the touch. (It is important that mixture is
properly cooled before proceeding.)
With mixer at high speed, add butter 1 piece at a
time, beating well after each addition until
incorporated, then beat in dissolved espresso.
Continue to beat buttercream until fluffy.
Assemble hearts: Spread 1 tablespoon buttercream
evenly over each solid heart. Top each of 4 solid
hearts with another solid heart, buttercream sides up,
then top each stack with an open heart. Spread about 1
tablespoon buttercream around sides of each heart,
then coat sides with reserved chopped hazelnuts.
Chill hearts 30 minutes, then let stand at room
temperature 15 minutes before serving with coulis.
• Meringue hearts may be baked 1 day ahead, cooled
completely, and kept in an airtight container at room
• Assembled hearts can be chilled, covered, up to 1
Makes 4 hearts.
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