You know it’s summer in the South when the churches start advertising that they’re “prayer conditioned.”
The rest of the year, they call you to the Lord’s bosom. But summer is about escaping Satan’s armpit.
Here, keeping cool is a science, an art and a priority.
When I was a kid, my parents had a wall-unit air conditioner in their bedroom. On those days when it was so hot you wanted to peel off your skin and sit around in your bones – when popsicles and bare feet weren’t cutting it – they’d let me and my sister run into that bedroom, close the door, flop on the bed and stay in there long enough to “let the sweat dry.”
So, when I saw that the heat index was going to stay in the hundreds, I knew it was the right time to take on this Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise, which requires several indoor hours of indoor work – whipping, folding, baking, melting, chilling, slicing, roasting, toasting, assembling and refrigerating.
That’s a lot of quality time spent avoiding sweat.
And the result is worth the effort. Crispy discs of nut meringue layered with a creamy white chocolate ganache and roasted pineapple slices that are sweet and still juicy. Surrounded with toasted coconut. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself scraping the dish and contemplating another slice, because all of those tropical flavors make this dacquoise seem surprisingly light.
If you have people you need to impress this summer, or you want to look productive while you’re staying inside for a “Facts of Life” marathon, you really can’t go wrong with this dessert.
Especially if your idea of heaven once included popsicles.
Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 large (4 1/2 pounds) ripe pineapple , peeled, quartered lengthwise, cored and each quater cut crosswise into 1/8 inch thick wedges
- Confectioner’s sugar
- 14 ounces premium quality white chocolate finely chopped
- 3 cups heavy cream
- About 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted, for decorating
- Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 225 degrees F. Using two pieces of parchment paper, draw 3 rectangles (two on one sheet, one on the other, each 12 x 6). Turn the sheets over (making sure the outlines show), and use them to line the 2 baking sheets.
- For the Dacquoise: Put the coconut, almonds, 2/3 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and the cornstarch in a food processor. Pulse until finely ground.
- Working with a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Beat in the remaining 1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, then beat until the meringue is thick and glossy and holds firm peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, very gently fold in the coconut mixture.
- Spoon one-third of the meringue (about 2 1/2 cups) onto each outlined rectangle. Using a long metal icing spatula, spread the meringue into the meringue into smooth, even layers.
- Bake the meringues for 3 hours, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back after 1 1/2 hours. The meringues should be golden and crisp to the touch. Let cool completely on the baking sheets on racks. (The meringues can be made 1 day ahead and kept lightly covered with wax paper at room temperature, as long as the room is dry.)
- For the Pineapple: Preheat the broiler, and place the place the rack about 4 inches beneath the heat. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with foil. Place the pineapple wedges between a double thickness of paper towels and pat dry.
- Arrange the pineapple wedges on the baking sheets in a single layer. Sift just enough confectioner’s sugar over to coat them lightly. Broil the fruit, one sheet at a time, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the pineapple is slightly charred in spots–turn the sheets as needed for even cooking. Cool the sheets.
- For the Ganache: Put the white chocolate in a large bowl. Bring the cream to a boil, then pour it over the chocolate. Let it rest for 1 minute, then whisk until the ganache is smooth. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and chill, stirring occasionally, until it is very cold, about 3 hours.
- When the ganache is thoroughly chilled, and you are ready to assemble the dacquoise, beat the ganache with a mixer (use the whisk attachment or a hand mixer) until it is light and fluffy, but don’t overbeat.
- To Assemble the Dacquoise: Set out a serving plate or cut a 12 x 6 inch piece of cardboard. Place 1 meringue rectangle flat-side down on the plate or cardboard and, using a long metal icing spatula, spread 3/4 cup of the ganache thinly over it. Cover the ganache with a single layer of pineapple wedges (about 24 wedges in 3 rows of 8). Repeat with another meringue, more ganache and more pineapple.
- Top with the third meringue, and cover the sides and top the sides of the cake with the remaining ganache. Press the toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake. Arrange the remaining pineapple decoratively over the top of the cake.
- Refrigerate the dacquoise for at least 4 hours, or up to 6 hours, before serving.