This is a refreshing summer dessert that can serve 10 or so people, and while it looks rather elaborate, it really is just strawberries in whipped cream layered between meringues and iced with a buttercream frosting mixed with almond crunch. The only time-consuming part is making the meringues, and most of the time is waiting for them to bake. This recipe is adapted from one we found in the Sunday NY Times many years ago.
- 5 egg whites at room temperature- twice
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar – twice
- 1 cup blanched almonds, finely ground – twice
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar – twice
- Baking parchment
“Blanched almonds” means almonds with the skins removed. You can buy them that way or you can remove them yourself, a bit more cheaply. For this entire recipe, we used 2 6-oz bags of whole almonds, which amount to about 2 ½ cups.
To blanch the almonds, bring a saucepan of water to a boil and drop in all the almonds. Let them boil for just one minute (no longer!) and then drain them in a strainer and cool them with running water. You will find that you can pop the skins off the almonds by pinching the thick end of the almond. The almond should pop right out of the skin. You can even do two or three at a time.
When the almonds are cool, chop them up in a food processor as fine as you can. Reserve ½ cup for the almond crunch below, and use the remaining chopped almonds to make the torte layers.
Making the torte layers
In this recipe, we will make 4 layers at a time and then repeat to end up with 8 layers.
- Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
- Put the 5 egg whites in a mixer bowl with the 1/8 tsp of cream of tartar and beat until the egg whites are stiff and dry. Reserve 4 egg yolks (once) to use in the frosting below.
- Fold in 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and 1 cup of the chopped almonds.
- Cut 4 squares of baking parchment to 8” x 8”. The roll of Reynolds parchment is only 15” wide, so our “squares” were actually 8” x 7.5”. Place the parchment squares on two cookie sheets and divide the meringue mixture equally among them.
- Spread the meringue to near the edges of the squares.
- Bake for 16 minutes or more. You want the meringues to be well browned. We found that varied a bit with the thickness of the meringue but was closer to 18 minutes.
- Immediately after removing the meringues from the oven, use a spatula to flip them over onto a wooden counter, and use a small spreading spatula to peel the parchment off the meringues. You need to do this right away while the meringues are warm. Don’t worry if there are some small holes.
- Stack the meringues on a plate, separated by wax paper.
- Repeat to make 4 more meringue layers.
- ½ cup blanched almonds
- ½ cup sugar
- Place the almonds (chopped or not) in a small iron skilled along with the sugar.
- Heat until the sugar melts and turns golden brown. Don’t let it burn.
- Pour the hot sugar mixture into a buttered pan and allow it to cool.
- When cool, put the solid sugar-almond mass in a food processor and grind it to a powder.
- Set aside to use in the frosting.
- 1 quart strawberries
- 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
- 1 ½ Tb cold water
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup sliced or slivered almonds.
- Reserve 4 large strawberries for decoration.
- Slice the berries, sprinkle with sugar and set aside.
- Mix the water and gelatin in a small pan, and heat until the gelatin dissolves.
- Beat the cream in a mixer until it is fairly firm.
- Then dribble in the gelatin solution and mix through.
- Fold in the sliced berries
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 4 egg yolks, beaten in a mixer bowl
- ½ lb softened sweet butter
- Put the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until it is dissolved.
- Continue heating at a slow boil until the solution reaches 238˚ F, the “soft ball” stage.
- Put the egg yolks in a mixer, and beat them and then slowly add the syrup to the yolks while continuing to beat.
- Beat until cool
- Gradually beat in the butter.
- Stir in the powdered almond crunch and transfer the mixture to a small bowl and refrigerate until of a spreading consistency.
- Place one of the better meringue layers on a cake cardboard or plate.
- Spread with around one-seventh of the strawberry-cream mixture.
- Continue adding layers and spreading cream and top with the last meringue layer.
- Chill the layers for an hour.
- Take the layers out of the fridge, place on a cake turntable and, using a sharp knife, cut off any uneven pieces of meringue or berries.
- Spread the frosting along the top and then along the sides. If the berry mixture begins to ooze out, return the layers to the refrigerator, and centime later.
- Decorate the sides with the slivered or slice almonds and top the torte with large pieces of strawberries.
- Chill for a few hours and serve cool to your adoring fans.
We recommend slicing with a sharp knife so that the layers are distinct.