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Dacquoise, Strawberry (D, TNT)
Source: "Annemarie's Personal Cookbook," by the former chef of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

Meringue Layer:
2 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/4 to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 to 6 ounces) unblanched almonds, very finely chopped (if necessary, put through nut chopper twice)
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup superfine sugar, divided (3/4 cup and 1/4 cup) (see note)
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Strawberry Filling:
1/2 cup red currant jelly
1/4 cup granulated sugar (or up to 1/2 cup if berries are particularly tart)
2 tbsp. water
1 quart (20 oz.) strawberries, hulled and halved

Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1-1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Make Meringue Layer:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread 1 tbsp. butter over each of 2 cookie sheets. Sprinkle each with 2 to 4 tbsp. flour. Using knife, and with an 8" round cake pan as a guide, trace two circles onto each cookie sheet. Set aside.

Spread almonds in ungreased 13"x9"x2" baking pan. Place on center shelf of oven and bake until golden (about 15 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Stir in cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the superfine sugar. Set aside.

Lower oven temperature to 250°F. Get out wire cake racks (sufficient to hold 4 (8") cake layers) and spatula. Place over working surface (so layers can IMMEDIATELY be transferred to wire racks as soon as they come out of the oven).

Pour egg whites into large bowl of electric mixer. Using electric mixer or wire whisk, beat until frothy. Add cream of tartar and salt. Continue beating until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted. Add remaining 3/4 cup superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until mixture is stiff but not dry, and stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted (about 5 minutes with mixer). Stir in almond extract and 1 tsp. of the vanilla.

Gently fold in almond mixture, 1/4 cup at a time. Using a rubber spatula, spread meringue 1/8" thick onto the 4 circles you traced on the cookie sheets. Place cookie sheets on center shelf of oven and bake until firm, dry, and pale golden (about 1 hour). Immediately loosen each meringue with a spatula and transfer it to a wire rack. Set aside.

Make Strawberry Filling:
Pour jelly, granulated sugar, and water into a small saucepan. Cook over low heat until melted. Cool slightly. Gently stir in berries. Set aside.

Make Sweetened Whipped Cream:
In small mixing bowl, beat together cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until consistency of whipped cream.

Place one meringue on a cake plate. Spread with 1/4 of the whipped cream. Spread 1/4 of the berries over the cream. Repeat with remaining layers, ending with top meringue. Spread with whipped cream, topped with circle of berries.

Poster's Notes:
This is delicious and impressive, yet very easy and fail-safe to prepare. Although mocha buttercream is more traditional (and can obviously be substituted), this is the filling most popular with my family and friends (and the one from the aforementioned book). This is similar to Pavlova in which the outer edges are crispy and dry while the inside stays moist and firm with a marshmallowy consistency. The concave centre is perfect to fill with whipped cream or a lemon curd, then top with fresh fruit.

If preferred, instead of superfine sugar, either blend granulated sugar for a second or two in the blender (until it looks like very fine granulated sugar), or substitute granulated sugar.

Posted by Virginia Sauer (Sir Angus), Z'L

Nutritional Info Per Serving: N/A