Yesterday was my 20th wedding anniversary. I asked my husband what he wanted to have for dessert on our special day. After being together for 25 years I could predict what he would pick; either Madeleines or the nut cake his mom used to make him when he was young. The nut cake won instantly. My mother-in-law used to make the cake with ground hazelnuts, Cool Whip and canned peaches. She gave me the recipe for the cake once, but it read like something out of a fairy tale, “a thimble full of this” and “a jigger of that,” nothing was ever written down and she did the entire thing by feel. I have been meaning to spend a day in the kitchen with her to get the recipe written down, but for our anniversary I used one of my all time favorites, dacquoise. It is light, which is perfect for the last days of August, and both chewy and crunchy at the same time. I toast the nuts first to give it a richer flavor and add an extra dash of salt to contrast the sweetness. Combined with chocolate ganache, freshly whipped cream, the summer’s juiciest peaches and candied almonds, it was not exactly my MIL’s recipe, but my husband declared it “perfection!” This, my friends, is why we are still married after 20 years. 😉
Toasted Almond Dacquoise with Peaches and Cream:
Toasted Almond Dacquoise
2/3 cups almond meal (1/3 cup whole almonds, finely ground) Skin on or off, you decide. I used almond meal that I found at Trader Joe’s with the skins on.
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 egg whites (about 5 large)
2/3 cups + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
4 large ripe peaches
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 cup raw sliced almonds
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Click here for directions on making the dacquoise . Instead of making large rounds, I piped them into 3-inch circles.
To make the ganache: Bring the cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Swirl the pot so that all the chocolate is covered by the cream. Let sit for 3 minutes, then gently whisk to combine. Allow to cool to nearly room temperature.
Spread one tablespoon of the ganache over the cooled dacquoise. Set aside to allow the chocolate to set up slightly.
To make the candied almonds: click here for directions. Just replace the peanuts with the almonds.  Set aside and allow the nuts to cool completely.
To prepare the peaches: You can leave the skins on if you like, but these had thick, fuzzy skins and it would have distracted from the dessert to leave them on.
To remove the skins: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Mark a small “X” in the bottom side (oposite to the stem) of the peach. Submerge the peaches and cook for about 1 minute. Remove with a Wire Skimmers  or slotted spoon.
Immediately plunge them into a ice bath, which will allow the peach skins to fall off easily.
The skins should come off by just pulling on them. If not, stick them back in the boiling water for another 30 seconds.
After peeling the peaches, cut them into thin slices. Cook the peaches in the brown sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt.
Whip the heavy cream with the vanilla and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form.
Set the chocolate covered dacquoise on the dessert plates. Cover with 2 tablespoons of the whipped cream and a few slices of peaches. Repeat with another layer of each.
Sprinkle with the candied almonds and serve immediately. We ate it with Champagne after coming home from a romantic evening spent with our sons at their back to school open house. Seemed like exactly the right way to celebrate all the years we have spent together.
Happy Anniversary Graham. I love you even more today, than I did all those years ago. Just keeps getting better!
Here is a cake I baked with my friend Sarah using the dacquoise and layering it with cream and berries. We left the nuts much chunkier and the results were fantastic. The recipe is on her blog The Vanilla Bean Blog!