This Pistachio Dacquoise cake is hands down the best thing I have ever tasted. I don't say that lightly. Chewy, crispy, and smooth all at the same time and bursting with authentic pistachio flavor. If you love pistachios you absolutely have to try this.
I have unwittingly become the queen of pistachio desserts. It's a flavor I adore and so love to bake with. The most successful recipe on my whole blog is my Pistachio Cake, and I've got similar delicious creations such as my Pistachio Cannoli and my Pistachio Cookies. But this Pistachio dacquoise absolutely takes the cake (hehe).
Made entirely with real pistachios and no artificial flavoring, the pistachio flavor is absolutely unreal. The crunchy, chewy meringue cake layers mixed with the glossy, smooth pistachio french buttercream is simply heavenly.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
- It's a flavor and texture journey. Chewy, crispy, silky smooth, and crunchy in every bite! Also a symphony of sweet, salty, and nutty on your tongue all at the same time!
- Super easy to come together but very impressive.
- A very unique dessert to serve, totally different from a standard cake.
What is Dacquoise?
Dacquoise is a French dessert made from a meringue and ground nut mixture. It is typically layered with filling such as whipped cream, pastry cream, and buttercream. Traditionally, dacquoise is made with almonds or hazelnuts, but this recipe uses my favorite nuts and makes a decadent pistachio version.
Dacquoise originated from southwestern France in the 17th century. Its name comes from the French word, 'dacquois', meaning 'Dax' - the town where it was invented.
The term 'dacquoise' actually refers to both the nutty meringue layer that is made, as well as the finished dessert once it is all put together.
For such an elevated dessert, this pistachio dacquoise recipe calls for relatively simple ingredients.
Pistachios - The star of the show - pistachios! I like to buy mine pre-shelled to save a bit of hard work and some sore fingers. If your pistachios are salted, you can leave the salt out from the rest of the dacquoise recipe.
Powdered Sugar - Also known as confectioners sugar or icing sugar, it's the super fine, powder-like sugar.
Cake Flour - I recommend cake flour for dacquoise cake as it is lighter and will be less likely to deflate the meringue than all-purpose flour. Not all dacquoise recipes contain flour - see my section below on different kinds of dacquoise to know the difference.
Eggs - We'll use the egg whites to make the meringue for the dacquoise cake, and we'll use the egg yolks (plus a few extras) to make the French buttercream.
Sugar - Make sure you are using extra-fine white sugar in this recipe (caster sugar in the UK). We need it to be as fine as possible so it will dissolve into the egg whites easily.
Salt - I feel like the salt is unskippable for this pistachio dacquoise cake - it really brings out the nutty flavor and balances out the sweetness of the pistachio frosting.
Butter - The butter will be used to make the French buttercream. You can use salted or unsalted butter for this, whichever you prefer. Just don't add any extra salt if you use salted butter.
Pistachio Paste - The French buttercream will be flavored with pistachio paste. You can either buy pre-made pistachio paste, or you can easily make your own with just some pistachios and a food processor. See my post on how to make your own pistachio paste.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make the Pistachio Dacquoise
The process to make the dacquoise cake is actually very straightforward. We're basically going to make pistachio flour, then make meringue, and then gently fold the two together and bake. That's it!
- Preheat oven to 465°F / 240°C and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place two cake rings on the parchment paper - do not grease them. See the Equipment section below for more info on what you can use here.
- Put your pistachios into a food processor and pulse until they are in fine pieces. They will go through several stages of different sizes, make sure you get them as small as you can, but don't blitz for too long or you may end up with pistachio paste. Check out my pictures below to see the various stages the ground pistachios will go through and check them regularly. If they start to feel moist, stop and don't go any further, this is the oil starting to release which will make pistachio butter.
- Once the pistachios are ground as finely as you can get them, add the powdered sugar and cake flour and pulse a few more times until everything is combined. The mixture should now look like nice, fine pistachio flour. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, start whipping up the egg whites with the whisk attachment. Make sure the eggs are at room temperature. You could use an electric mixer for this, but I strongly recommend a stand mixer for the rest of this recipe as the buttercream takes quite a long time to whip up. Whip the egg whites on medium speed until they start to get frothy, then add the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt, and turn up to medium-high speed.
- Start adding your sugar, one tablespoon at a time, letting it mix in for at least a minute in between adding more tablespoons of the sugar. If you add the sugar too quickly it won't dissolve properly and you'll be left with a grainy meringue.
- Once all the sugar is incorporated, you should have a thick, glossy meringue that is whipped to stiff peaks. If you rub a little of it between your fingers there should be no grains at all. If it is grainy or the meringue isn't stiff enough, whip on high speed for a little longer until the desired consistency is reached. It's really important for the meringue to be whipped enough so that it will hold more of the air when folded with the pistachio flour.
- Pour half of the nut mixture into the meringue and gently fold it in with a rubber spatula, being careful not to knock out too much of the air. Once incorporated, add the remaining pistachio mixture and fold in completely, again being very gentle and careful not to knock out the air.
- Divide your nut meringue between the two pastry rings and use an offset spatula or palette knife to spread them out as evenly as possible.
- Put your dacquoise into the oven and immediately turn the oven temperature down from 465°F / 240°C to 350°F / 180°C. Bake for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, turn off the oven and open the oven door slightly. Leave the dacquoise to cool in the oven for at least an hour before removing them and allowing them to cool completely on the countertop.
- Once the dacquoise have completely cooled, carefully run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake rings and release the dacquoise. They should be light and slightly crispy on top. Carefully peel the dacquoise cake off of the greaseproof paper.
How to Make the French Buttercream
French buttercream follows the same process as Italian meringue buttercream, but it uses egg yolks instead of egg whites to make a richer, creamier frosting.
- Remove your butter from the fridge about an hour before beginning to make the French buttercream, it is important that it is nice and soft, but not totally melty.
- Place your egg yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip with a whisk attachment on high speed until they are thick and very pale - almost the color of butter. This may take 5 minutes or so.
- Once your egg yolks are thick and pale, put your sugar and water into a small pot or saucepan and put on medium heat. Do not stir the sugar mixture.
- Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature of the sugar syrup as the sugar dissolves and the syrup starts to boil. I love this 2 in 1 thermometer spatula - it makes my life so much easier! You want the syrup to reach the softball stage, which is 240°F / 115°C. If you don't have a candy thermometer watch for when the liquid turns completely clear and has small bubbles all over the surface. You can test it by dropping a small amount of the syrup into a glass of cold water - if it turns into a soft, malleable ball then it is ready. If it goes hard like candy, it got too hot.
- Once the sugar syrup is at the right temperature, turn your stand mixer to low and slowly drizzle the syrup into the whipped egg yolks in a steady stream. Try not to get it down the side of the bowl or onto the whisk as this can get messy, just pour it slowly and directly into the egg yolks as they mix.
- After all the hot sugar syrup has been added, the side of your bowl will feel warm. Turn the mixer up to high speed and let it whip until the side of the bowl feels room temperature again, this may take 5 - 10 minutes, which is why I don't recommend using a handheld whisk!
- When the bowl feels back down to a normal temperature, you can start adding the butter. Keeping the mixer on high speed, add the butter, one small chunk at a time, letting it incorporate completely in between additions. At first, the frosting might look a bit gloopy and runny, but don't worry, just keep adding the butter and whipping. Eventually, it will turn into a beautiful, thick, and glossy frosting. If it doesn't, turn the mixer up to maximum speed and whip for about a minute.
- Once all the butter is added, add the vanilla and pistachio paste, then whip until everything is combined. If you can't find pistachio paste you can easily make your own with this recipe.
- Do a taste test and see if you'd like to add a touch more salt. This is a purely personal preference, but I feel like the saltiness in this particular recipe really makes it!
- Your pistachio French buttercream is ready to use! If you are not going to use it immediately, store in an airtight container and whip for up again for a minute or so before using it.
How to Assemble the Pistachio Dacquoise Cake
This pistachio dacquoise cake is super quick and easy to put together.
- Once your dacquoise cakes have cooled and you have removed them from their cake rings, place one of them onto your cake board or serving plate. There is no need to trip off the top or edges or anything - they're perfect to go as they are.
- Fill a piping bag with your pistachio French buttercream and snip a small opening off the end of the bag. You don't need a piping nozzle for this, just the bag will work great.
- Starting on the outside, pipe little blobs of pistachio frosting around the dacquoise cake. I use a technique where I squeeze slightly the pastry bag and move my hand up just a little as I release pressure. You can either cover the whole top of the cake in these blobs, or you can just go around the outside and then spread some of the pistachio buttercream in the middle.
- Once the whole layer is covered, place the other dacquoise cake gently on top, then repeat the process and cover the whole top of the cake in pistachio French buttercream blobs.
- For a finishing touch, chop up some pistachios and sprinkle them around the outside edge of the cake.
Different kinds of Dacquoise Cake
There are two main ways to make a dacquoise. Some dacquoise recipes use only meringue and ground nuts to make the dacquoise layer, creating a super crunchy meringue layer that will crumble when you cut into it.
Others, such as this recipe add a little flour to the dacquoise batter. This makes it more stable and adds a slightly softer, springier texture to the dacquoise. It's slightly more cake-like, but still light, chewy, and crispy.
Dacquoise are also often made as small, individual portions rather than a larger layer cake like this one.
- 2 x 7-inch Cake Ring - Also known as a pastry ring or just any kind of stainless steel ring. The ones I used are adjustable and I set them both to 7 inches to make two 7-inch dacquoise layers. You could also use 8-inch rings if that's what you have.
- Food Processor - The food processor will be used to grind up the pistachios into pistachio flour. If you are making your own pistachio paste you'll also need it for that.
- Stand Mixer with Whisk Attachment - There is a lot of whipping in this recipe, so I don't recommend trying to use a hand mixer.
- Saucepan - You'll need a small saucepan to make the sugar syrup for the French buttercream.
- Different nuts - You could really make this exact same recipe with any kind of nuts you like, so choose your favorite! For the dacquoise preparation just grind up whatever nuts you choose, and for the buttercream, you can follow the pistachio butter instructions in this post to make any kind of nut butter you like to add to the frosting
- Alternative filling - I have also tested this recipe with a pistachio cream filling instead of French buttercream. It is also delicious, a little lighter, not so rich, and flavorful. I spread a layer of pistachio cream on top of the first layer, then folded the remaining pistachio cream into a batch of whipped cream and piped that all over the dacquoise, just like I did with the buttercream.
- Coconut Dacquoise - For an alternative flavor, add some coconut in with your dry ingredients when making the dacquoise cake, then sprinkle some toasted coconut outside of the cake.
Once your pistachio dacquoise cake is assembled, store it in the fridge in an airtight container. It will be good like this for 5 days. Just make sure you remove it from the fridge about an hour before serving as it is best served at room temperature. If you serve it cold, the French buttercream will be thick and solid, rather than soft and creamy.
If making the French buttercream ahead of time, store it in the fridge in an airtight container, then when ready to use, remove from the fridge, let it come to room temperature, and then whip it up again to give it a little more life before using.
I don't recommend making the dacquoise too far ahead of time, but if you make it the day before, wrap it up in plastic wrap and store it in an airtight container at room temperature.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
For the Pistachio Dacquoise
- 5 Egg Whites 150g
- ⅝ cup White Sugar 125g
- 1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar
- 1 pinch Salt
- 1 ¼ cups Pistachios
- ½ cup Powdered Sugar 50g
- ⅓ cup Cake Flour 40g
Make the Pistachio Dacquoise
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place two 7-inch pastry rings on it, ungrased. Preheat the oven to 465°F / 240°C.
- Add the pistachios to a food processor and grind them up until as finely as you can before they start to release their oils. Don't go too far or you'll end up with pistachio paste!1 ¼ cups Pistachios
- Add the flour and powdered sugar to the ground pistachios and pulse until everything is combined. Set aside.½ cup Powdered Sugar, ⅓ cup Cake Flour
- Make sure the egg whites are room temperature, then whip them up with the cream of tartar and a pinch of salt in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk.1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar, 1 pinch Salt, 5 Egg Whites
- Once the egg whites start to get frothy, start adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whipping for 30-60 seconds in between each addition.⅝ cup White Sugar
- Once all the sugar is in, the meringue should be thick and glossy with no more grains of sugar in it. Keep whipping until it reaches very stiff peaks.
- Once the meringue is stiff and glossy, add half of the pistachio flour you made earlier and gently fold it into the meringue. Be careful not to knock too much air out of it.
- Once incorporated, add the reamining pistachio flour and fold that in completely too.
- Divide the dacquoise batter evenly between the two pastry rings and spread it out as flat as possible.
- Put the dacquoise into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 350°F / 180°C. Bake for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the dacquoise sit in there for an hour before moving to the countertop and letting them cool completely in the pastry rings.
- Once completely cooled, run a sharp knife around the edge of the pastry rings and gently release the dacquoise.
Make the French Buttercream
- Place the egg yolks into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment fitted. Whip them on medium-high speed until they are very pale in color (about the color of butter). This should take about 5 minutes.8 Egg Yolks
- Meanwhile, heat the sugar and water in a small saucepan on medium heat and bring to a boil. Use a candy thermometer to track the temperature, we want it to get to exactly 240°F / 115°C.¾ cup White Sugar, 5 tablespoon Water
- Once the sugar syrup reaches the right temperature, turn the mixer down to low speed and carefully pour the sugar syrup into the egg yolks in a slow, steady stream. Be careful not to hit the sides of the bowl or the whisk as you do it.
- The bowl of the stand mixer should feel hot to the touch once all the sugar syrup is in. Turn the mixer up to high speed and let it whip until the bowl feels room temperature again. This may take about 10 minutes.
- Once the bowl feels cool, you can start adding your butter in small chunks. It is vital that the butter is softened, but not too warm. For best results, I like to take my butter out of the fridge about an hour before I start making the buttercream. Add the butter to the mixer one small chunk at a time, letting it whip until it is incorporated in between each addition.2 ½ sticks Butter
- As you are adding the butter the consistency of the frosting will change. At first, it will look soupy and runny, don't panic, just keep going. Eventually, the frosting will thicken up and look lovely and glossy. If it doesn't, turn the mixer up to maximum speed and whip for a further minute.
- Once all the butter is added, add the vanilla and pistachio paste and whip on high speed for a minute. Do a taste test and decide if you'd like to add the salt. This is a personal preference, but I love it in there as once it's on the dacquoise cake it makes a gorgeous sweet and salty contrast.1 teaspoon Vanilla, 4 tablespoon Pistachio Paste, ¼ teaspoon Salt
Assemble the Pistachio Dacquoise Cake
- Place one of the dacquoise cakes on your cake board or serving plate.
- Put the pistachio french buttercream in a piping bag and snip the end off. Squeeze little blobs of buttercream around the outside of the dacquoise.
- You can either add blobs all over the layer, or just do the outer ring and spread some frosting in the middle of the cake.
- Place the other dacquoise layer gently on top of the buttercream and repeat the process, piping blobs of French buttercream all over the top of the cake.
- Decorate with some chopped pistachios around the outside of the cake.
Dacquoise is a French dessert made of meringue mixed with ground nuts and filled with creamy fillings such as buttercream, pastry cream or whipped cream.
Traditionally, dacquoise is made with almonds or hazelnuts, but you can make dacquoise with any kind of nuts such as pistachios or peanuts.
Dacquoise cakes can be filled with various creamy fillings. Some popular choices are French buttercream, pastry cream, whipped cream and ganache.
Yes. There are two kinds of dacquoise cake, one made with just meringue and ground nuts, and one with a little flour added to the batter. The first will make a harder, crunchier dacquoise cake, whereas the ones with flour will be softer and slightly more sponge-like, but still chewy and a little crispy.