Mexican Strawberry Meringue Torte

This light and delicious dessert makes a beautiful presentation. Do not be intimidated by the length of the recipe or the fact that it's called a "torte". It's actually a lot of fun to make.

Ingredients:
  • 3 pints strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 egg whites from extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sugar, preferably superfine sugar (see Note below)
  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • 4 teaspoon Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • whole, perfect strawberries, with tops, for garnish
Preparation:
  1. Wash the 3 pints of strawberries, remove tops and slice. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar, stir, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 275°F. On a piece of parchment paper or brown Kraft paper , make two patterns by drawing circles around the bottom of a round 9-inch cake pan. Trim away all but about 1-1/2 inches of excess. Place patterns on one large or two small baking sheets.
  3. Using your largest mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until just frothy. Then, with mixer running, sprinkle in the cream of tartar, salt, and vanilla and almond extracts. Continue beating, gradually adding sugar a tablespoon at a time, until meringue is thick, and has very stiff peaks.
  4. Divide the meringue evenly between the two patterns. Using a spatula or spoon, shape the meringue to fill the circles and smooth tops, leaving the sides just slightly higher than the centers (centers will rise a bit). Press down firmly with spatula so that meringue makes good contact with paper.
  5. Bake in your preheated oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Then, without opening the oven door, turn off the heat, and leave the meringues in the oven for at least 2 hours. (Note: If meringues are on separate oven racks, be sure racks are far enough apart to allow for air circulation.)
  6. When meringues are cooled to room temperature, invert and peel away the paper patterns. Meringues are delicate, but can be handled if done carefully. Place one meringue, flat side down, on a serving plate.
  7. Take 1/2 cup of the sweetened strawberries and process 10 or 15 seconds in a blender; do not purée.
  8. With an electric mixer, whip the cream until foamy, then sprinkle in the confectioners' sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Remove 1-1/4 cups of the whipped cream and place in a small bowl. Fold the puréed strawberries into the cream in the small bowl. Set aside. Fold the liqueur into the remaining whipped cream.
  9. Assemble by spreading the top of the base meringue with the strawberry cream. Place the second meringue on top of the strawberry cream, flat side down. Spread the remaining whipped cream over top and sides of both layers, smoothing and correcting any irregularities in the meringue. Garnish with whole strawberries.
  10. Serve at once, or refrigerate and serve within 1 hour. Cut in wedges and serve with the reserved strawberries spooned over the top.

Note: This is a beautiful, impressive dessert. The fact that it does not hold over well, even if refrigerated, does not detract because there are seldom any leftovers.

The meringue base may be made in advance and stored up to 2 days in an airtight container or frozen in the container for up to 1 month. Should the meringue feel sticky after storage, crisp it for 5 minutes in a 200°F oven, then turn the oven off and remove the meringue after 20 minutes.

To make superfine sugar, put granulated sugar in your blender and process until it is finely ground.

To get the greatest volume from egg whites, separate them while cold from the refrigerator, then allow them to come to room temperature.

Powdered egg whites make great meringue, and you don't have to worry about what to do with the yolks.

For full particulars, read the related article, Mexican Strawberry Meringue Torte.

Total time: 4 Hrs

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