Allow me to introduce you to Marjolaine. She's a French layered gateau, with a certain je ne sais quoi. She could possibly be the poshest, most sophisticated and elegant dessert here on Only Crumbs Remain. With her four layers of dacquoise, French buttercream, chocolate ganache and a whole heap of nuts she's certainly what you might call high-maintenance, but boy she certainly can command presence in a room. Marjolaine certainly isn't one of those desserts that you might choose to rustle up in a few minutes for a mid-week treat or for when your children's friends come for tea after school. But rather, this French dessert is perfect for dinner parties where you're aiming to impress or for family celebrations like Christmas and anniversaries.
I have to admit that this French dessert isn't the usual sort of sweet treat I would make in our Only Crumbs Remain kitchen, but having watched GBBO's dessert week I felt compelled to try. The six remaining bakers in the GBBO tent were faced with making a family sized roulard as their signature bake (though weren't they really Swiss rolls having been made with sponge rather than meringue?), the Marjolaine set by Mary as the technical bake and a batch of 24 mini mousse cakes as their showstopper where some of the bakers looked to be drowning amongst sheets of gelatin.
Prior to the bakers commencing their Marjolaine bake, Mary advised the bakers to be 'organised' due to the need to 'multi task' during the 3 hour time period they were given to complete the bake. I have to admit, that our Marjolaine took a wee while longer than that, having left the dacquoise to cool in the oven whilst visiting the hair salon....but surely that's multi tasking 😉
On the face of it this French dessert is quite complex, but after separating the bake into its component parts it's not overly difficult. A large batch of classic French meringue is whipped up before ground toasted nuts are folded through to create the dacquoise. Once baked, the dacquoise is sandwiched together with French buttercream which incorporates ground praline. The buttercream is also spread over the upper surface and sides of the Marjolaine. A layer of rich chocolate ganache can be found through the centre layer of the dessert once it's sliced into. The remaining ganache is then piped on top of the dessert creating sections for slithered pistachios and chopped hazelnuts to sit, though I'm sure you have noticed that our Marjoliane is only topped with chopped nuts having been unable to source slithered pistachios easily and running out of available time to prepare the pistachios we had. Toasted flaked almonds finish off the sides of the Marjolaine.
Besides omitting the pistachios from the top of the gateau, I also substituted the French buttercream for something easier and which wasn't made with egg yolks. French buttercream is made with egg yolks which has hot syrup whipped into it, followed by butter, and in this case ground praline. As Mr E often has concerns about undercooked eggs, which no-doubt harks back to the days of Edwina Currie in the late 1980s, I chose to set our egg yolks aside for another bake and made a regular frosting instead, sweetened with the ground praline rather than the usual icing sugar.
The final alteration I made to the Marjolaine bake was to slice the baked dacquoise width ways as opposed to length ways. This was simply due to not having a serving plate which would accomodate a 30cm long gateau. Though the GBBO's recipe may result in something even more slender and elegant, and which serves more guests, the dimensions of our Marjolaine was far more practical and produced slices which were more generous 😉
You may disagree, but when making something a little special we often aim to purchase higher quality ingredients than the standard. In this bake we chose to use Tesco's Finest chocolate, using both the milk and plain chocolate for our ganache. The rich smooth flavour of the chocolate was the perfect counterbalance to the sweetness of the dacquoise and buttercream.
And the result? Although this dessert clearly took some time to pull together, it certainly packs a punch in terms of flavour and presence. Each of the elements were fabulous together from the crisp melt in the mouth dacquoise, the creamy sweet buttercream, the delicious rich chocolate ganache, and of course the plentiful nuts. Surprisingly Mr E, who is a self-confessed meringue-phobe which I commented upon in our recent Lemon Meringue Pie (with thyme pastry) absolutely loved this gateau as much as I did!
Let's get to it and baaaake!
of dacquoise, buttercream, chocolate ganache and nuts. As the component
parts can be made ahead of time, it's a great choice for those special
dinner parties and family celebrations like Christmas or anniversaries.
Hands on time: about 2 hours Cook time: 45-60 mins Yield: 1 layered gateau, about 9-12 slices depending on how it's assembled (see recipe).
2 x Swiss Roll Tins Measuring30cm x 20cm. Alternatively consider using flat bottomed roasting tins of the same or similar dimension, see note a below.
Large mixing bowl
For the Dacquoise
- 125g Blanched or Ground Almonds
- 125g Blanched or Ground Hazelnuts
- 200g + 100g Caster Sugar
- 25g Cornflour
- 6 Egg Whites
For the Chocolate Ganache
- 360g Chocolate (I used 200g Milk & 160g Dark Chocolate)
- 300g Double Cream
For the Praline
- 100g Flaked or Blanched Almonds
- 300g Caster Sugar
- 100ml Water
For the Buttercream
- 250g Butter, unsalted & softened
- 200g Cream Cheese, Full Fat
- Icing Sugar (to taste)
- 80g - 100g Chopped Nuts
- Slithered Pistachios (optional)
a) We baked our dacquoise in flat bottomed roasting tins measuring 33cm x 24cm. As they were a little larger than swiss roll tins the dacquoise ingredients were increased to: 160g each of almonds and hazlenuts, 267g + 133g caster sugar, 33g corn flour, 8 egg whites. The recipe produces sufficinet buttercream etc to assemble the slightly larger gateau. b) Check the nuts regularly whilst they are being toasted as they can easily burn. c) Each component part can be made ahead of time and stored until ready to assemble. Keep the dacquoise in an air tight container. The buttercream and ganache can be kept in the fridge, covered, though they will need a thorough stir before using. d) If the daquise cracks when cutting it in half, place that as one of the centre layers. e) If the chocolate ganache is a little thick to spread / pipe when you are ready to assemble the gateau, simply place the bowl over a bain marie for a couple of minutes until it is a little slacker. f) Once assembled store the Marjolaine in the fridge until required. g) The dessert will keep for a couple of days in the fridge.