This week's recipe for "Tuesdays with Dorie" was a Coconut - Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise, chosen by Andrea of Andrea in the Kitchen.
Whenever I'm flipping through Dorie's book, I have to stop a moment by the picture of this dessert. It looks fabulous! Layers of crunchy meringue with ground-up coconut and almonds (that's the "dacquoise part. Where do the French come up with these names?). Creamy filling. Luscious roasted pineapple slices. Crunchy toasted coconut. Ooh-la-la!
Unfortunately, as the time came to make it, I began to worry. The weather was hot and humid and showed every sign of staying that way. (And it has.) Everyone says that meringues don't do well in humid weather. Was it worth turning on the whole-house air conditioner to make these? What was I going to do for "Plan B?" Fortunately, my husband was all for the idea of turning on the air conditioner, so we could stay with "Plan A."
Plan A did involve making only half the recipe. It took about 2/3 of one of those smaller (but delicious!) "Honey Sweet" pineapples to produce 36 slices. (Yes, I like math. 3 layers of pineapple arranged 3 x 8 = 72 pieces for the whole recipe.) This was the first time I'd ever used the broiler in our stove/oven. I'm pleased to report it works well, but it seems to brown a little faster in the middle. Or maybe my slices were uneven. Or both. I sprinkled them with a little rum after broiling.
I'd defrosted some of the frozen egg whites left over from previous baking (another reason I wanted to make the dacquoise). They whipped up beautifully and I was able to fold in the ground-up coconut/almond mixture with no problems. Whew! (The last time I tried to make a meringue-based dessert, the folding-in step was a complete disaster. I ended up with something resembling marshmallow soup. Not a good thing.)
More calculations here -- Dorie's recipe calls for making 3 rectangles of 12 x 9 inches for a total of 216 square inches. For my half-recipe, I made 6 rectangles of 6 x 3 inches. The next part was easy -- bake for 3 hours. A good time to make the other components of the recipe, clean out the fridge a little, read food blogs...interrupted occasionally by my husband saying "Isn't it done yet?"
I'm not a big fan of white chocolate. I was considering leaving it out altogether, but eventually decided to make just a quarter recipe of the ganache, and then add in some drained yogurt. We were low on yogurt, though, so I also mixed in some sour cream. (D**n those fat calories, full speed ahead!)
And a half-recipe of Dorie's Caramel Sauce (page 466) with rum and sea salt added -- just because! Oh, and the toasted coconut for on top -- almost forgot that!
I cut my dacquoise squares in half and arranged them in two layers. Lovely!
Unfortunately, we both thought this was only "pretty good." Here are the details:
Roasted pineapple: fabulous, especially with a little rum!
Dacquoise: very nice texture, crispy/crunchy yet tender. But too sweet and not much taste of coconut/almond.
Ganache: before adding the yogurt/sour cream, it was too sweet and tasted strongly of white chocolate. Adding the sour ingredients helped the flavor considerably, but made it a bit runny. After trying several brands (all "good" ones) and several recipes, I've come to the conclusion that I just don't like white chocolate. Cocoa butter should be eaten combined with cocoa solids the way Mother Nature designed it!
Salted Rum Caramel sauce: nomm nomm nomm! Next time, make a whole recipe--I'm sure we'll find uses for it. On second thought, maybe it would be better for our waistlines if I didn't...
What I learned:
1) Roasted pineapple is fabulous. Caramel sauce is fabulous (wait, I knew that already). A touch of rum is fabulous (oh, I knew that already, too).
2) I can make dacquoise! Meringue success! But alas, I really don't like things that are mostly meringue. Too sweet, don't taste like much of anything else. Well, there are plenty of other egg-white recipes to try -- like next week's cake. In future I'll be looking for recipes that combine egg whites & sugar with lots of other flavorful ingredients.
3) Sorry, I just don't like the taste of white chocolate. This expensive ingredient is wasted on me.
4) I love the combination of flavors / textures in this dessert, but next time I'd use different components to create it. For the "pastry" part -- how about coconut sweet tart pastry, or puff pastry, or even a trifle with rum-soaked cake? and for the creamy part, ice cream, or some combination of yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, whipped cream?
Andrea, thanks for choosing this recipe! I had fun making the components and assembling them. Unfortunately, we weren't completely thrilled with the result. But, I joined this group to challenge myself and learn more about baking, and in that respect, this recipe was a complete success!