Pastel de Merengue
For the meringues:
7 large egg whites
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
For the whipped cream filling:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces (1 cup) mascarpone or requeson cheese, chilled
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
2 cups sliced strawberries, plus more for garnish
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and trace two circles, 8-inches in diameter, on each piece of parchment paper, four circles altogether between the two pans.
In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and lime juice on medium speed until frothy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Continue beating and start adding the granulated sugar slowly, about 2 tablespoons at a time, until completely combined and the mixture holds stiff peaks, about 2 to 3 more minutes. The meringue should appear white and glossy.
Remove the bowl from the stand, sift the cornstarch into the meringue, and use a rubber spatula to gently fold and completely incorporate the cornstarch. Transfer the meringue to the prepared baking sheets, dividing evenly between the 4 8-inch measured circles. Use the spatula to spread it into even circles; you will be able to make some nice wavy shapes.
Bake for 1 hour, then reduce the temperature to 175 degrees. Let the meringue dry in the oven for another 4 to 6 hours. The outside should be crisp, and they should be easy to remove from the parchment. Set aside to cool completely.
In the bowl of a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream and mascarpone cheese until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
Transfer 1 1/4 cups of the whipped mascarpone cream to a medium bowl and fold in the sliced strawberries. Set aside.
To assemble the cake, place a round of meringue on platter and spoon about 1 1/4 cup whipped cream onto the center, then spread to cover. Top with the second meringue and spread on the strawberry and whipped cream mixture. Top with the third meringue and another 1 1/4 cup whipped cream. Top with the final meringue. Serve in slices with more fresh strawberries.
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It seems that when it comes to birthdays and cakes, most of us grown ups are like little kids too. So this year, I planned my husbands’ cake with a little help from my three young boys.
The night before, as I tucked them in bed, we talked about making an irresistible I-want-to-jump-into-that-cake kind of cake. It had to be something that could WOW him away and could also feel yummy and soft when they dipped his face in it (yep! that was their plan).
This talk led me, once again, to tell the boys stories about cakes from my childhood. Most of those cakes came from Sanborns’, a chain of stores that sells almost anything you can imagine: books, DVD’s, make-up, electronics, luggage, candies, the best ever chocolate covered raisins, marshmallows and toys. It also has great coffee-shop style restaurants with some of my favorite molletes and enchiladas. Not to forget its perfumeries and pharmacies. It is a serious knock out one-stop-shop. But most importantly, it was, and may still be, one of the most popular places to get a birthday cake.
One of the cakes that left me with a permanent impression went something like this: A couple layers of fluffy and moist vanilla cake, a foamy and soft meringue filling paired with old fashioned strawberry jam and pecans, the same soft meringue layered all over the top, some more pecans and whatever decorations you fancied.
That cake, by itself, made a party happen. It was a creation worthy of its own celebration.
Continue reading A Cake Worthy of its own Celebration