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Meringues are essentially egg white foams, made by beating together separated egg whites into a foam and adding sugar, in either a crystalline (preferably superfine) or syrup form, the amount which determines whether it is soft or hard. A small amount of acid, such as cream of tartar, is included in the initial stages of beating. Adding in salt is debatable. Meringue can be can be used as foam cake layers, French Macaron cookies, or serve as a pie topping, too.
Meringue Cake Types
There are many names for French meringue based cake desserts, such as Dacquoise, Japonaise, and Noisette among them. A Pavlova is thought to have originated in either Australia or New Zealand.
DACQUOISES (NUT MERINGUES)
A Biscuit Dacquoise is a classic French dessert cake, made from disc-shaped hazelnut or almond meringues stacked and filled with chocolate, sweetened whipped cream or buttercream. It takes its name from the feminine form of the French word dacquois, meaning 'of Dax', a town in southwestern France. An example is our Hazelnut Almond Mocha Dacquoise Meringue Cake Recipe. The nut meringue is made with beaten egg whites and sugar, folded together with ground almonds and/or hazelnuts to produce a crispy consistency, with a slight nutty flavor. The term dacquoise can also refer to the nut meringue layer itself. It can also be placed atop a cake, such as a soft sponge cake filled with a fruit mousse, adding a sweet and crispy, and unusual nuttiness.
There are other types:
Dacquoise Pistache - A Dacquoise made with pistachio nuts.
Dacquoise au Praline - A Dacquoise made with pralines.
Marjolaine: A particular form of the dacquoise is the marjolaine, which is long, rectangular narrow rich and fancy cake (gateaux) with straight sides, usually consisting of layers of meringue and chocolate buttercream and containing chopped nuts. The dacquoise becomes soft and chewy as it absorbs moisture from its fillings as it is refrigerated overnight.
Japonaise meringue is used for cake layers, and for cookies or pastries. Finely ground blanched almonds and cornstarch are combined. The sugar is gradually added to partially whipped whites as they are whipped to stiff peaks. The nut mixture is folded in by hand. It can be piped into a spiral within a circle drawn on a piece of parchment paper.
A Biscuit Noisette meringue is used for cake layers, and for cookies or pastries. Finely ground blanched hazelnuts and cornstarch are combined. The sugar is gradually added to partially whipped whites as they are whipped to stiff peaks. The vanilla is added. The nut mixture is folded in by hand. It can be piped into a spiral within a circle drawn on a piece of parchment paper.
Pavlova is typically a soft centered meringue cake decorated with whipped cream and fruit. The question of which country, Australia or New Zealand, first came up with the idea of the pavlova may never be answered. Both lay claim to the invention of this sweet dessert, but neither one can prove it. It has been thought that in 1935, the chef of the Hotel Esplanade in Perth, Western Australia, Herbert Sachse, created the pavlova to celebrate the visit of the great Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. It has been suggested this dessert was created in New Zealand, as it has become recognized as a popular dish.
This dessert can not be attributed to any one cook, but through research, it has been thought that the dessert gently evolved from years of recipe-swapping in New Zealand years earlier. Although the recipe has changed over the years, the name pavlova in NZ cookbooks has been mainly associated with a basic meringue mixture that consisted of egg white, sugar and usually vanilla. The precursor of the modern pavlova recipe in NZ was published in the N.Z. Dairy Exporter Annual in 1929. It contained the basic meringue ingredients and corn flour. By 1934 there also existed pavlova cake recipes with vinegar. In 1939 the popular Edmonds Sure to Rise Cookery Book published its first pavlova recipe which included the basic meringue ingredients, vinegar but no corn flour. The 2005 edition included a pavlova recipe, not only with vinegar and corn flour but also with water. As well the instructions for shaping, cooking temperature and time had been modified.
Today, Pavlova recipes are typically baked on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, with the meringue smoothed to a circle, but I like to sometimes bake mine in an 8- or 9-inch inch springform pan, instead, especially if I have to travel with the delicate baked meringue base and assemble it onsite. The meringue part can be baked in advance, but always assemble the Pavlova right before serving, otherwise the baked meringue base will become softened or soggy from the whipped cream and fruit piled on top.