A Dessert for All TastesFor All Faiths
THE BAHA’I CENTER on West 11th Street in Manhattan is a spiritual center open to people of all faiths. Greer Nutall is a private chef, and a member there. She reached out to us when they were planning for a Gala celebration and wanted some kind of dessert for 600 guests over a three-day period.
Chef Nutall was specific in that she wanted something classical pastry, but light and elegant. It had to be stable at room temperature because their refrigeration space was limited. We agreed on hazelnut dacquoise, with two different buttercream layers, one caramel, the other, hazelnut. Hazelnut dacquoise is a nut meringue that is baked. It’s very crunchy initially, but after being sandwiched with the filling, it starts to soften to a tender consistency, still retaining a little crunch.
In order to have enough to cut 600 servings, we estimated we needed 18 full sheet pans of meringue, since the finished cake has three layers of meringue and two layers of filling. The garnish is a simple, stenciled powdered sugar design. It took hundreds of egg whites, and dozens of pounds of nuts to make the meringue layers, which had to be mixed and baked in small batches since the nuts make the meringue lose its consistency.
Making the buttercream also took several batches, since two different flavors were needed, and of sufficient quantity to fill the cakes uniformly. There was also the matter of cutting into serving pieces. We made a template to mark the cakes without damaging the surface, so we could get the right number of uniform portions from each cake. The cut slices were then packed into cake boxes for transportation to the site, 200 servings each day.
This year, Chef Greer reached out to us again. The Baha’i Center is celebrating the Bicentennial of the birth of their founder. Since the dacquoise was a hit the last time, she wanted something similar, but not identical. We decided on a walnut dacquoise with lemon buttercream, but this time we’ll pipe rounds to give the dessert a more individual look. The celebration is going to be over a three-day period again, and we’ll deliver to the Center, as expected.