Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TWD - Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise

I thought about skipping this one. I'm not a huge fan of white "chocolate," and I was afraid it would taste of white "chocolate," but I decided I could always pawn it off on my unsuspecting coworkers. I learned a lot with this dessert:

1. Always unload the dishwasher, then load the dishes in the sink before baking.
2. Shortcuts aren't.
3. Dorie's cookie sheets are larger than mine.
4. Don't separate egg whites into the mixing bowl to save time. It doesn't.
5. Do laundry, or bake. Not both at the same time.
6. Pick a recipe. Make it. Then pick another. Repeat. Don't do them all at the same time.
7. Trust Dorie.

Onward to the dacquoise. If you live in earthquake country as I do, it's important to make this recipe on a day that you plan to be at home for a while. The meringues bake for 3 hours, and in California, it's never a good idea to leave the house while the oven is on. I'm not saying I've never violated this rule, but you've been warned.

I only had extra large eggs since that's what my CSA gave me, so I checked the handy table in the back of The Cake Bible and learned that one large egg white weighs 30 grams, so I started cracking eggs and putting the whites in the mixing bowl (which I placed on the scale-saving time and saving dishes!) Then, on the third egg, I must have whacked it extra hard and the yolk broke, polluting the whites in the mixing bowl, as well as the mixing bowl itself. Pause, unload dishwasher, put dirty dishes in dishwasher, wash mixing bowl and dry it. Oops, the laundry is done and needs to be attended to. Come back, separate the eggs (each into a ramekin - coincidentally no yolk breakage this time.) Draw three 12x6 rectangles using two pieces of parchment paper...err, I don't think so. Fortunately, I was using the back of a sheet pan to do this since parts of my counter top were off limits (stains on my new-guaranteed-not-to-stain-for-10-years granite are being treated), because I could tell right away that two 12x6 rectangles weren't fitting on one of my sheet pans. I use sheet pans instead of cookie sheets, so I just put one rectangle on each of three sheet pans. Are you still with me?

At this point, I was questioning the wisdom of making this recipe. But I had bought unsweetened coconut, white "chocolate," and already sacrificed almost a dozen eggs, so I was committed.

With stencils drawn and sheet pans dried, I prepared the dry ingredients in the food processor, then beat the egg whites and cream of tartar, adding powdered sugar when they reached the soft peak stage. The dry ingredients were gently folded in, and the meringue was divided between the sheet pans. I had to improvise to keep the parchment from rolling up before I got the meringue spread out.

After three hours, the meringues were done and after they cooled, I covered them with parchment, made the white chocolate ganache and went to bed, planning (with my usual mix of optimism and idiocy) to complete the dacquoise the next morning and take it to work for my coworkers to enjoy. This plan wasn't as insane as it sounds, since all I had to do was whip the ganache, cut the pineapple (I bought prepackaged fresh pineapple at Trader Joe's) and broil it. What could go wrong?

M. is on a business trip and he Skyped me from the road thinking I might want to talk to him (which I did, but can't we do it after I finish assembling my cake...?) Needless to say, I halfway paid attention to him while I assembled, frosted, layered the pineapple, etc., pausing occasionally to ask him if he wanted to see it. I'm sure he was asking himself why he left an important meeting to call me if all I was going to do was babble on about my dessert.

It actually didn't look half bad:

I put it in back of the car and headed off to work. Halfway there, I heard the sickening sound of my tote bag (with my lunch, coffee mug, a yogurt, box of crackers, etc.) fall ON TOP OF the dacquoise. I pulled the car over and opened the back of the car and could have cried. My beautiful dessert was a misshapen shadow of its glamorous self. It was largely intact but obviously had cushioned the fall of something heavier.

When I served it at work, you wouldn't believe how many people commented on how it looked, as in, how good it looked. Nobody said "That's a strange shape" or "Why didn't you smooth out the frosting?" They oooed and ahhed and politely waited for a small piece. And then a hush fell over my coworkers, except for the occasional "Mmmm."

The white chocolate that I vilified? It and the cream created a light cloak for the crisp and chewy meringues. The pineapple, lightly charred with the caramelized sugar, flavored the whole dessert. The almonds weren't detectable, but lent a subtle crunch to the meringue.

Once again, I learned lesson #7. Trust Dorie. Trust her palate. Trust her instructions. Trust her sense of the impact a simple but elegant dessert can have over a room of people, holding out their plates expectantly, holding their breath until they take that first bite.


natalia said...

Wow ! It's great and I loved your suggestions !!

Cakelaw said...

LOL - your baking experiences sounds like mine (50 things on the go, ignore the dirty dishes mounting up etc). Your dacquoise looks gorgeous - rat whatever fell on it! And I always say the proof of the pudding is in the eating - I got the same rave reviews for this, and my co-workers too are so used to my baking that they say nothing usually.

Audrey said...

If I was your coworker, I would have been SPEECHLESS! I understand what you mean about needing to pay attention...it's hard to do, but it's much more rewarding to bake when all you're doing is baking! This looks wonderful...I need to go back and try it.

Jessica said...

The dacquoise looks beautiful. This was such a tempting dessert to multitask on because there's so much downtime. I've learned the hard way not to bake more than one thing at a time ... but I still do it all of the time anyway. I'm glad that your coworkers enjoyed it and that you liked it more than you thought you would! I'm also really happy that it survived the car ride and people could still enjoy it.

Clivia said...

Great story! Yes, trust Dorie - good advice. Your co-workers must adore you.

Craving Ellie in My Belly said...

I LOLed when I saw "lessons" in your post, I did the same in mine!

"They oooed and ahhed and politely waited for a small piece."

Of course they did. It was beyond them how any non professional could come up with something so tasty and pretty!

I also love the double quotes around white "chocolate" :-)

Oh, and your cake looks nice as well!


Anonymous said...

Great story! Nothing fell on my dacquoise, but I transported it immediately after assembling it. Big mistake! It slid all over the serving platter. Not exactly the presentation I was going for, but at least I got my pics beforehand.

Hornedfroggy said...

Beautiful! Even if your bag did fall on it! :)

chocolatechic said...

You are hilarious!

PS. White chocolate isn't.

Cathy said...

Ugh, I skipped this one and now I am so regretting it! It really looks like a delicious dessert, and so different from the usual thing. I will commit your lessons learned to memory for whenever I get around to making this!

Your dacquoise looks incredible!

Mary Ann said...

I love your description of this dessert at the end of your post. You summed it up perfectly. Great job.
It looks delicious.

Flourchild said...

Great job. THis recipe was so long I took the easy way out!

Anonymous said...

I love the way you put chocolate in quotes. So true!! Your list cracked me up. At least all was well at the end.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you made it and that it was a success. It really was delicious.

Dorie said...

Will you still trust me after I tell you that had my tote bag fallen on my pineapple dacquoise, the one I'd spent so many hours making, I'd have been a puddle of tears?
Your dacquoise looks great!

margot said...

Looks great! I wasn't sure if I'd like this one either, but I ended up loving it; it definitely taught me to trust Dorie's palate.

Michele said...

I'm sorry that your cake got crushed! But, I'm so happy that it was enjoyed by your co-workers.

Anonymous said...

i'm glad it turned out good, even with the car ride mishap. usually i can do these twd recipes on some sort of auto pilot but this week kind of threw me a bit. it was delicious though, especially the white chocolate ganache.

Heather said...

It was worth all the work wasn't it! Beautiful dacquoise. I enjoyed your rules too.

Tammy said...

great story! it does taste delicious doesnt it! You are right though, Dorie's baking sheets must be huge. I halved the recipe and size and still only managed to get two only just onto one of my sheets

vibi said...

LOL LOL Your post had me laughing!!!

I love your tips... especially the one about separating the eggs!

I take it you had a lot of trouble going through everything while making this one!!! LOL LOL LOL Oops! I'm soooo sorry ;)

It came out looking marvelous in the end, your laudry was done, many other recipes, okay, maybe not as you would have liked everything to be done... but it proves you certainly are a woman of all trades! lol

Liz said...

Wow, what a story! You deserve a medal--Valor in the Face of Baking Obstacles. Glad everyone loved it!

farah said...

Great blog :)
I don't know how many times I've done the same thing and try and do everything at the same time. I'm so glad I'm not alone ;)
I didn't participate this week but I wish I had, it sounds and looks delicious. Great job :)

spike. said...

Driving with desserts in the car is always a terrifying experience for me. Glad the damage was limited and everyone enjoyed!

Teanna DiMicco said...

I made a lot of adjustments to this and wish I tried it Dorie's way! I think I am going to this weekend! That looks so good and I totally agree with your rules. Don't cook something while you are baking something else! It. never. works.

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Anonymous said...

Your dacquoise looks beautiful! Your ganache looks soo creamy, like marshmallow cream! I think we had the same experience baking this. I have to go home at lunch time to bring it to work so we'll see how it ends up looking! =)

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Oh, those lessons are ones I've learned the hard way too (esp the egg one!) and the one that got me on this recipe: read the recipe and plan out the timing!! Your dacquoise really was stunning and I absolutely LOVED you co-workers' reaction.

Beryl said...

Wow what a saga. We are our own worst critics, your dacquoise looks amazing! And it's good to know they can take a beating and still impress the masses!

Kayte said...

Love hearing what goes on in other people's kitchens! So much fun to live vicariously hearing about these things. Your dacquoise looks absolutely perfect. And, I agree, Trust The Dorie! Very fun post. Don't you love SKYPE?

Jennifer said...

Your dacquoise turned out superbly!

I often make too many recipes at once...I'm pretty sure I have cookbook ADHD. DO they make a pill for that????

Carol Peterman said...

And how many times will I re-learn each of those lessons? Been there on most of them, unfortunately more than once! This is an impressive looking dessert and I am so glad your co-workers loved it.

Tracey said...

I love your post this week! This sounds exactly like a typical baking adventure in my kitchen :) I would have cried if something fell on my dacquoise as I transported it, but I'm glad it was still a hit with your coworkers. Your dacquoise looks absolutely perfect!

AmyRuth said...

Know what, Leslie? I love your "trust" message. As bloggers I think we are all guilty of thinking differently. I subscribe to your notion of trusting the author's intent, at least for the first few times. Great job and isn't fun to sort of have your own secret? Awesome job. Like you, not a huge fan of whilte (fake) chocolate.

Jacque said...

Ooh, you have lucky co-workers! This was definitely a good dessert for wowing a crowd.

Sorry about the lunchbag on top of dessert mishap :(

PheMom said...

Your dacquoise is beautiful! I am glad you trusted Dorie and enjoyed it!

Jenn H (formerly TourGuideJenn) said...

Funny and heartwarming - the perfect post. If I did needle point I'd make you a pillow with your lessons on it.