While having my good friends Donna and Michael over for dinner last week I made a dessert that I was planning on posting but then decided it was not up to par. It was a blackberry yogurt cake layered with a blueberry “chiffon” and then frozen for a few hours. The chiffon was a variation of a recipe taken from Cooking Light Magazine that is called frozen lemon blackberry chiffon pie. The recipe is a really good one but I wanted something with just a little bit ” more”. The only problem was that my take on it wasn’t any good! The cake part was just too frozen and the chiffon part was too soft by the time the cake was ready. Good thought but not good enough. While we were discussing the recipe and how it could be better this is what we came up with. Instead of cake layers I would use a nut laced meringue which would then get nice, soft and chewy. It would be layered between the berry chiffon, and I would also brush the meringue with dark chocolate to add a little crunch. I also changed the blueberry to cherry (I still have a lot of cherries)
I have an interestingly shaped springform pan that I wanted to use for this, it is somewhat rectangular shaped and a nice change from the standard circle. While a springform pan is not absolutely necessary, it would be my first choice. This way you can unmold the cake to slice it, and it makes a nicer presentation.
So…. I have chosen to make this over a few days- it’s just easier for me, maybe not for you. I find meringue a breeze to make but it likes a lot of drying time. I find that if I make it one day and use it later it works just fine. This recipe is definitely a make ahead one, but isn’t it easier to have your dessert ready before everything else? Don’t be put off by the time it takes, most of it is waiting for the meringue to dry and the chiffon to freeze. the overall work is only about 25 minutes.
I served it after a meal of pizza on the BBQ, and it was a smashing success. Really tasty with amazing textures, but still light.
Cherry Chiffon and Nut Meringue Torte
Part One- for the meringue
Before you start, take a piece of parchment paper and outline the bottom of the pan your using with a pencil. Flip this over- now you have a template for your meringue.
4 egg whites (I used simply egg whites so I wouldn’t have to find another use for the yolks-they work great)
1 C sugar
1/2 C ground toasted almonds
1/4 tsp almond extract
Whip the egg whites until frothy. Slowly start adding the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until it is all gone and your meringue is stiff and shiny. Fold in the ground almonds and extract. Place into a piping bag and fill in your traced template. If you don’t have a piping bag you can you a large ziploc bag with a corner cut out or just use the back of a spoon to spread the meringue around. There is always a way around things!
Place the meringues in a preheated 200 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes and then turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for a few hours (I left mine in overnight). You want to dry out the meringue, not brown it, hence the low temp. These will now keep for at least 2 weeks in a lightly covered (not airtight-they must be breathe)container.
Part Two- the Cherry Chiffon
4 egg whites (again, I used simply egg whites for this. 8 tablespoons = 4 egg whites)
1/4 tsp salt
1 C plus 2 Tblsp sugar
6 Tblsp water
3 cups pitted cherries
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp almond extract
Combine cherries,lemon juice and extract in a blender and process until smooth. You will end up with 2 cups puree.
Place salt and egg whites in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Combine sugar and 6 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a thermometer registers 250°. Gradually pour the hot sugar syrup into egg white mixture, beating at medium speed, then at high speed, until stiff peaks form (about 8 minutes). Fold in the cherry puree .I like to place the whole bowl then in the freezer for 1/2 hour to firm it up a little.
Part Three- assembly
If neccesary, trim your meringue to fit into the springform pan that you are using. Melt a few squares of dark chocolate and gently spread over this layer. Place in the freezer for a few minutes to firm up the chocolate. Spread half of the cherry chiffon over this and then place the other meringue layer over this,cover with chocolate, freeze for a few minutes and then spread with the rest of the cherry mixture.
Place this in the freezer for a least 6 hours or overnight. Let sit for 5 minutes before unmolding the cake and slicing.