Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Strawberry and Cream Meringue Cake

My friend Nada Rajic and I go way back. When we met, I was in my first year of university and she was the one who invited me to my very first formal dinner party. There was something magical about that evening. It was definitely very different from all the parties I attended in my freshman year of journalism school. The guests were served a three course meal, there were exquisite centerpieces on the table, plenty of wine to go around and lots of stimulating conversations. And then there was the Dessert! A spectacular, airy walnut meringue cake with strawberry and cream filling. It's been many years since that evening at Nada's. Since then I attended dozens of dinner parties and had plenty of mouth-watering sweet endings but I never forgot the cake that Nada served that night. It truly was life changing. It was like that first love or that first kiss that you never forget. Everything that comes after is great but it does not come close to that very first sensual experience. And then you spend your life wondering if you will ever go through anything like this again. 

First your dessert fork breaks up a crispy meringue filled with toasted walnuts, perfumed with essence of almond extract. It is crunchy and airy, nutty and light. Then your fork reaches sweet, ripe strawberries, enveloped by fresh, sweetened cream. It's like digging into a celestial cloud of pleasure. And then comes another layer of that perfect nutty meringue. Again, crispy, airy and delicate. And then as your eyes devour this iconic piece of heaven on your plate, your fork finally snatches a piece and you are ready to put it in your mouth. The contrasts of the cake's consistency create the bite that is impossible to forget. Plump, fleshy berries, soft cream and the crunchy crust. Have I mentioned heaven? Nada was kind enough to share this recipe with me and I couldn't be more grateful. I can go back to that wonderful sweet experience anytime I want and now you can experience it for yourself. But be prepared. You may have to scratch out your favourite dessert from the list of your guilty pleasures. This cake might become "the one." 


5 egg whites, 1 cup of sugar, few drops of almond extract, 1 tbsp of flour, 1 cup of chopped toasted walnuts, 1 tsp. cornstarch, 500ml of whipping cream (35%), 2 tsp. powdered sugar, 1 large basket of strawberries, 1/2 tsp. cream tartar (optional). 


To make 2 meringue crusts: Beat 5 egg whites with 1 cup of sugar, few drops of almond extract and some cream tartar (optional). 

In a separate bowl mix 1 tbsp. flour with chopped walnuts and 1 tsp. cornstarch. 

Mix your wet and dry ingredients together. 

Grease 2 spring form pans and lightly dust with flour. Divide the batter evenly and bake at 350F for 35-40 min. Turn off the heat and let it dry for another 30 minutes without opening the oven. 

To make the filling: Cut the strawberries in big chunks. Whip your whipping cream with 2 tbsp. powdered sugar until it forms stiff peaks. Fold in the strawberries. 

Assembly: Place one of the meringues on a serving stand and top with berry and cream mixture. Place another meringue on top and dust with powdered sugar. Do not assembly too early in advance to avoid soggy crusts.

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