Week 7: Dessert Week – Marjolaine

Target Time: 3 hours

No, I didn’t know what was either so a visit to the interweb was called for. If you google Marjolaine you’re likely to come across a number of sites devoted to French lingerie.  Be warned, I’m sure this was not the Marjolaine that Mary had in mind.

Layers of almond daquoise, sandwiched with praline French buttercream and ganache, coated in flaked almonds with a striped decorative topping of pistachios, hazelnuts and chocolate piping.  Or if you prefer,  “like a viennetta, but posher” – Andrew

This weeks challenge presented a number of issues.  The first of which was opportunity.  I just didn’t have a 3+ hour window free over the weekend so needed to break this recipe up into 2 parts

Secondly was general Yorkshire attitude to spending (skinflint), meaning I just don’t buy blanched almonds and hazelnuts so would need to make my own.  Other more slightly irritating problems – I don’t have 2 trays the same size and the ones I do have rounded corners, I don’t have a range of piping nozzles (primarily because my piping skills are rubbish) and finally for some reason I just couldn’t get hold of any pistachios.

So I opted to bake this challenge in 3 parts over the course of the weekend:

  1. Blanche the almonds, skin & roast the nuts. Make the Daquoise & Praline
  2. French Buttercream & Ganache
  3. Assemble the cake

It’s fair to say that I didn’t hit the 3 hour window that the contestants had – my elapsed time was closer to 30.  That said, spreading this bake out was very convenient and gave everything that needed it good time to cool before use

This recipe is largely based on Mary’s recipe with a few tweaks to the sequencing


For the Nuts
  • 250g whole Almonds (skins on)
  • 200g Hazelnuts (skins on)
  • 150g Flaked almonds
  • 50g Pistachios, chopped
For the Daquiose
  • 7 Egg Whites
  • 300g Golden Granualted Castor Sugar
  • 25g Cornflour
For the Praline
  • 300g Castor Sugar
For the French Buttercream
  • 8 Egg Yolks
  • 225g Golden Granulate Castor Sugar
  • Pinch of Cream of Tartar
  • 350g Butter, cubed
For the Ganache
  • 270ml Double Cream
  • 350g Dark Chocolate – c70% Cocoa Solids



1. Prepare the Nuts
  • In a pan of boiling water add the whole almonds  Leave to simmer for about 3 minutes
  • On a baking tray, roast the whole hazelnuts for 10 minutes at 160oC fan
  • Take the almonds one at a time and squeeze – the blanched nut will pop out of the skin
  • Tip the roasted hazelnuts in a towel & fold up.  Leave for 10 minutes
  • Tip the skinned almonds on to the tray and bake for 10 minutes to dry out and roast
  • Vigorously rub the towel with the hazelnuts inside – disturbing the nuts will rub most of the skins off.  Pick the nuts out of the towel & shake to discard the skins
  • Once dried & roasted, remove the whole almonds from the tray & replace with the flaked almonds – toast for 3-5 minutes
2. Make the Daquiose
  • In a food processor, blitz 125g hazelnuts, 125g roasted almonds, 100g sugar and the cornflour
  • In a very clean bowl, whip up the egg whites for a couple of minutes
  • spoon in 200g of the sugar, continuing to whip hard until stiff and glossy
  • Carefully fold in the blitzed nut mixture
  • Spoon into 2 20cm * 30cm trays lined with baking parchment
  • Bake at 130oC Fan for 1 hour.  Once cooked, leave to cool in the oven with the door ajar
3. Make the Praline
  • In a pan dissolve the sugar with 2-3 tablespoons of water
  • Heat up to 170oC to form the caramel (use a sugar thermometer – try not to stir to prevent crystallisation
  •  Spread the remaining whole almonds out over a silicon sheet & pour the caramel over the top.  TAKE CARE!!!
  • Allow to cool and then blitz to a powder in the food processor
4. Make the French Buttercream
  • Gently whisk the egg yolks
  • meanwhile, make a syrup with the sugar, cream of tartar and a couple of tablespoons of water.  Heat until 115oC
  • Pour the syrup into the beaten egg, whist still whisking.  Continue to whisk as you add the butter a cube at a time
  • Beat until cooled, smooth & creamy
  • Finally beat in the powdered praline and set aside
5. Make the Ganache
  • Heat the cream until boiling
  • Break the chocolate into a pyrex bowl & pour over the cream
  • Stir until the chocolate has melted.  Set aside to cool
6. Assemble
  • Cut the daquoise in half lengthways to give 4 even sized strips, 10cm*30cm
  • Place the bottom layer on a serving platter or board and spread over ¼ of the buttercream
  • Add a second layer of daquoise and spread with  a layer of ganache.  Add a third layer & spread with buttercream and then add the final layer
  • With your best rendering skills use the remaining buttercream to coat the outside and top of the marjolaine, smoothing out any inconsistencies
  • Take the toasted almond flakes and cover the sides and ends, sticking to the buttercream
  • Pipe the remaining ganache around the top edge, and in a number of parallel diagonal stripes
  • Chop the remaining hazelnuts and sprinkle between the parallel stripes, alternating with the chopped pistachios


  • Lets face it, this is a big gateaux. Heart attack or major dental work?  Take your pick.  Scaling this back needs to be seriously considered unless it’s for a special occasion!
  • Although making the ganache and buttercream ahead to time was a good idea, keeping them in the fridge was not.  They both set far too much to be of use and should really have been left to cool naturally. NB: If this is also a problem for you, I recommend a hairdryer to soften the mixture back up again!
  • I prefer to use a chocolate with a higher cocoa content – 70% gives a bitter ganache which offsets the sweetness of the buttercream really well.  Personally I think the quantity of ganache in the recipe above is too much and could be cut back by at least a third
  • Don’t worry if a couple of the layers of meringue break – try to use these in the centre

One Comment Add yours

  1. Well done!! I was sooo tempted to try as well, but then I decided not to because it seemed really time and money consuming. I wish someone’s birthday was coming soon so I could use it as an excuse to try 😀

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