Auction time!! Remember last year when I made the Tower of Treats for an auction? Well, this year I decided to stick to just one dessert – I am trying to simplify my life, not overly complicate it at the moment. Give me a few months, I will get back to infusing chaos whenever I can…but for now, the word simplify is my motto. Of course, I couldn’t just make anything, it had to be something somewhat involved to get people to want it. I chose a recipe from Bon Appetit that I found a while ago – but never had the opportunity to make. I was pretty excited about making it, until it was time – and then the stress kicked in.
It took a couple of days to make – not that it was so time-consuming, but with the chilling, and the waiting, I just didn’t have a block of 7 hours straight dedicate to the project. Along the way, my younger daughter and I sampled everything. The meringue was sick – the best meringue I have ever had. The mousse – oh my, I could have easily eaten the entire bowl, but I kept reminding myself that it would not be a dacquoise without it – and the ganache on top was rich and decadent. I put it together, and I was proud, it was a perfect auction dessert. There was only one problem…I wasn’t going to the auction this year. Remember my motto? Well, I just couldn’t add another event to the weekend, so I declined. My neighbors brought my dessert to the auction, and unfortunately they lost track of it when the dessert dash ended – and I will never know if it was a success. So – take my word for it – if the pieces were all perfection, how could it be anything less than that when stacked together? I guess I just have to make it again…but there is that word again, haunting me…and I will have to politely decline for now.
- 1 1/4 cups roasted Spanish salted peanuts with skin (6 to 6 1/2 ounces), divided
- 3/4 cup sugar, divided
- 6 large egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch of coarse kosher salt
- 1/2 cup chunky natural-style peanut butter
- 1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
- Pinch of coarse kosher salt
- 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
- Pinch of fleur de sel (optional)
Preheat oven to 275°F. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw three 10 x 4 1/2-inch rectangles on parchment; turn parchment over. Finely grind 1 cup nuts with 1/4 cup sugar in processor. Coarsely chop remaining 1/4 cup nuts and set aside.
Using electric mixer, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and coarse salt in large bowl until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until meringue is stiff and glossy. Add ground nut mixture and coarsely chopped nuts; fold gently just to blend.
Spoon 2 cups meringue onto each rectangle on parchment; spread evenly to fill rectangles (any remaining meringue can be baked as cookies).
Bake meringues until golden brown all over and dry to touch but still slightly soft, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.
Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter, brown sugar, and coarse salt in medium bowl to blend. With mixer running, gradually beat in 1/4 cup cream. Add another 1/4 cup cream and beat just to blend. Beat remaining ½ cup cream, sugar, and vanilla in another medium bowl until peaks form; fold into peanut butter mixture in 3 additions. Chill until ready to use.
Whisk cocoa powder and sugar in medium saucepan to blend well. Gradually add 1/4 cup water, whisking until smooth. Gradually whisk in heavy cream. Bring to boil over medium heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand at room temperature until cool and slightly thickened, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours.
Leaving meringues on parchment and using large serrated knife, trim edges of each meringue to original 10×4 1/2-inch size. Slide thin knife between meringues and paper to loosen. Spoon 1/4 cup glaze evenly over top of 2 meringue rectangles and spread to cover. Chill until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. Place 1 glazed meringue rectangle on plate. Spoon half of mousse over (scant 1 1/4 cups); spread out in even layer. Place second glazed meringue rectangle atop first; spread with remaining mousse. Top with unglazed meringue rectangle. Pour 1/2 cup glaze down center of top meringue. Using icing spatula, spread glaze over top meringue, allowing glaze to drip down sides. Smooth top and sides to cover evenly with thin layer. Refrigerate until glaze is set, about 30 minutes. Pour remaining glaze over top of dacquoise and quickly smooth over top and sides in even layer. Sprinkle fleur de sel lightly over top, if desired. Chill at least 3 hours.
DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and keep chilled.
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