In the summertime, there are three kinds of desserts I like:
Ice cream. Homemade is best. Almost any will do.
Comfort desserts. Mom's Chocolate Sheet Cake. Banana Pudding. My great-grandmother's peach cobbler, smothered in BlueBell Homemade Vanilla. (I'm a native Texan, after all.)
And the opposite. Something fresh and cool. Something decadent but light. Nothing very heavy or too rich.
And as the summertime always seems to fill with wedding and baby showers or ladies lunches to celebrate birthdays, this flavorful, fruit-filled, and airy recipe is the perfect one to serve.
I found the original recipe in a 2005 Cooking Light magazine...but I've tweaked it a little, choosing real whipped cream over store-bought, reducing the liqueur amount (personal taste preference), and increasing the amount of fruit and shaved chocolate. (I found I would have preferred a little more chocolate shavings than the recipe called for.)
My words of advice would be to serve it to a crowd (unless you want to be tempted to eat half of the torte) and to allow plenty of time to make the meringues.
Mixed Berries Meringue Torte
2 tsp clear vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
6 large egg whites
3/4 cup superfine sugar
Filling and topping:
1 quart fresh whipping cream
1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
1 1/2 tsp finely grated orange rind
3 Tbsp. grated semisweet chocolate, divided
1 cup halved strawberries, hulled neatly
3/4 cup blueberries
3/4 cup blackberries
3/4 cup raspberries
fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
orange rind strips, for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper, drawing three 8-inch circles on the paper. (I use my 8-inch cake pan to trace.) Turn paper over (pencil side down) and secure with masking tape. Set aside.
2. Place vanilla, cream of tartar, salt and egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, one tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Dived egg mixture among the 3 circles on parchment-lined baking sheets. Spread mixture over each circle, using the back of a spoon to spread evenly.
3. Bake meringues at 200 degree for 2 hours or until dry. Turn off oven and cool meringues in closed oven for at least one hour. (I would wait for two hours.) Remove meringues from oven and carefully remove from paper.
4. Meanwhile, prepare filling. Combine whipping cream, liqueur and 1 1/2 tsp grated orange rind.
5. To assemble, place one meringue disk on cake plate, top with 1 cup whipped cream and sprinkle generously with chocolate shavings. Repeat layers twice. Mix the berries together and carefully center them in the center of the top layer of the torte. Garnish with mint sprigs and orange rind.
6. Serve immediately or keep chilled.
I hope you can make this soon. It is truly the perfect summer dessert.