Tuesdays With Dorie: (Not-So) Tropical Napoleons

Each month brings two recipes to make from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking With Julia. Group members choose recipes, which are then narrowed down and made official by the moderators. As a participant, I should make at least one of each month’s entries. May’s first recipe was for phyllo dough wrapped, pesto-d scallops. I was under the impression that we were to make phyllo, so I decided to abstain. Come LeaveYourLink day, everyone had used ready-made phyllo. That would have been so easy!

May’s 2nd recipe called for a coconut flake meringue wafer, layered with rum-infused whipped cream, and slices of tropical fruits. I was SO not doing that! But wait, 2 recipes in a month! I need to make 1! With only slight pangs of guilt, I was still going to skip this recipe until realizing that tomorrow’s Wednesdays With Kids has us separating eggs and beating egg whites. I decided today, on LeaveYourLink Day, some fresh meringue-making in my arsenal would help with my class. I began to rummage for ingredients.

Eggs are easy right now, the chickens are all laying, and Scotti is even broody. Sugar & salt-check. Sesame seeds-suprisingly-check. Sweetened flaked coconut? Nope. We are not overly fond of coconut here. Coconut milk in curries or whipped for allergen-free desserts, and some uses for coconut oil are as far as we go. On to Google for coconut flake substitutions. Between some helpful Paleo sites and an Alice Medrich meringue recipe from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, I settled on replacing the coconut with finely chopped nuts. The only nuts I could find in my freezer were cashews. A few food processor pulses later and voilà! I give you my mise en place:

Collected
Collected

The wafers are meant to be thin, so the author instructs to cut a template from a plastic lid. My template is between 3 1/2- and 4-inches in diameter.

I chose to use my 7-speed hand-held mixer since I was only working with 3 egg whites, though using the Kitchen Aid would have been easier to photograph. As an aside, when the chickens are laying, I only use their eggs in my cooking and baking. We have a variety of breeds, providing different color, and different size eggs. Most of the chickens give us extra-large eggs, requiring I juggle sizes and numbers of eggs to get as close as I can to the egg requirement of any recipe.

Separating
Separating

The fresh, room temperature whites whipped up nicely.

Foamy
Foamy
Ready for sugar
Ready for sugar
Post sugar
Post sugar

I added the sugar after soft peaks begin to form, gradually poured in while the mixer runs. The final peaks were “shiny and firm”, the goal stated in the recipe.

At this point, a loyal recipe follower would fold in half of the coconut flakes, saving the rest to be sprinkled on each wafer before baking. I folded in my finely chopped cashew.

Cutting into the middle
Cutting into the middle
Bringing spatula around and turning over
Bringing spatula around and turning over

The meringue had a beautiful consistency. I’ve never been overly fond of eating meringue cookies-no substance and far too sweet-but folding this “batter” was a thrill.

To form the wafers, I placed the plastic template onto a buttered/floured baking sheet. Greasing the pan is necessary to remove the wafers after baking.

A generous tablespoon of batter
A generous tablespoon of batter
spread thin with an offset metal spatula
spread thin with an offset metal spatula
repeated
repeated
sprinkled with more cashew & sesame seeds then baked.
sprinkled with more cashew & sesame seeds then baked.

 

I baked until the wafers began to color. I have no experience with meringue outside of using it to top a pie. Determining doneness was a bit tricky. One wafer was thicker in places so it came off the baking sheet in pieces.

After whipping some heavy cream, finishing the dessert went as follows:

Cream to hold dessert to plate
Cream to hold dessert to plate
Wafer 1
Wafer 1
covered with cream and fruit
covered with cream and fruit
followed by wafer 2
followed by wafer 2
on top of which was more cream and fruit and wafer 3.
on top of which was more cream and fruit and wafer 3.

I used the fruit I had: sliced fresh strawberries and some frozen blue & blackberries. I only used vanilla in the whipped cream, not rum, and sweetened it only slightly. Though skeptical, this dessert was delicious. I think almonds would have provided a deeper flavor, and I am sure for those who love coconut, this dessert, properly made, would be amazing.

Not easy to eat but tasty!
Not easy to eat but tasty!
1 more view
1 more view

Tropical Napoleons • Baking With Julia • Contributing Baker: Charlotte Akoto • pages 393-394

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7 thoughts on “Tuesdays With Dorie: (Not-So) Tropical Napoleons

  1. Your copy of the book has a recipe for phyllo? My page 20 just has a description and how to thaw it out. Your cashew meringues sound great, and I know this dessert would be wonderful with berries!

    • Hah! Yes! I stand corrected. I was remembering the puff pastry and thinking phyllo. Quickly looked up page number in index. Eventually I’ll need a fact checker! Thanks for choosing this recipe!

  2. One of my most favorite childhood cookie is a meringue mixed up with finely ground walnuts. Using cashew nuts is a great idea! It must be such a treat baking with eggs from your hens!

    • The eggs are like no other-the hens forage our yard and eat organic feed. Happy chickens = delicious eggs!

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