An amazing gluten-free dessert that with one minor modification can be made into a kosher for Passover dessert (swap the corn starch with potato starch – it works perfectly with either). This cake has layers of meringue, creamy decadence, and fresh strawberries. You can make a giant one that you cut into slices or you have the option of making smaller individual servings.
The sweet cream and the meringue can be made ahead of time and assembled just before serving. To make the meringue uniform, draw circles onto a piece of parchment paper. I ran around my kitchen with a ruler trying to find something that had a 4-inch diameter that I could trace.
It turns out that my prep bowls are exactly 4 inches across. Perfect circles were had. Once all of your circles are drawn, (it is totally ok to draw more circles than you think you will need just in case) flip the parchment paper over so the writing is facing the baking sheet (no food on the pencil/marker) and secure the parchment with masking tape.
Scoop your meringue into the center of each circle, and use the back of a spoon to evenly spread the meringue out over the circle.
Assemble your layers just before serving and be prepared to wow everyone. Don’t be afraid of the long cooking time. You are basically using the oven as a giant dehydrator and a long time is needed to make sure all the moisture is removed from the meringue.
After you take lots of photos and tell the kids they can have it it will take about 90 seconds for them to turn your beautiful creation on to this:
I am honestly surprised none of them licked the plate. There were several votes from the under 12 crowd to not include the stems so that it could be consumed with less work.
Need something to do with all of those leftover egg yolks? Make some of these delicious gluten-free (and kosher for Passover) lemon bars. Click on the photo to pop over to that recipe.
Strawberry Meringue Cake
- 1 cup chopped pecans (115g)
- 2 tablespoons corn or potato starch
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sugar, divided (14 oz total)
- 7 egg whites at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 (16 oz) container of mascarpone cheese or two 8.0 oz containers
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups whipping cream (681g = 710ml)
- 4½ cups sliced fresh strawberries (750g)
- 10 strawberries sliced in half leave the stems on
Making the Meringue
- The meringue can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If you are in a very humid climate, less advance time is better.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Place the pecans in a single layer on a rimmed cookie sheet or shallow pan and cook for 10-15 minutes until toasted. Stir after 6 minutes. Pay close attention to them after the 10-minute mark as they can go from toasty to scorched quickly. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 250 °F.
- Cover two large baking sheets with parchment paper, curly side up. Weight it down with anything handy while you draw some circles. If you are making a single large cake, draw two 8-inch circles onto each piece of paper (total of 4 circles). Turn the paper over so the marker/pencil is facing the baking sheet and secure the paper to the baking sheet with the masking tape. See note below on making individual servings.
- Add the corn or potato starch, salt, toasted pecans, and ½ cup of the sugar to the bowl of a food processer Pulse for 40-45 seconds or until the pecans are finely ground.
- With an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until the mixture is nice and foamy. With the mixer running at medium-high speed, in 1 tablespoon increments, add 1 cup of sugar. Continue to mix until the mixture is glossy and stiff peaks form. This should take 2-4 minutes. You do not want to overbeat this part.
- Gently fold half of the pecan mixture into the egg whites. Once blended repeat with the remaining pecan mixture.
- Gently spoon the egg white mixture onto the circles that you have drawn on the parchment paper. Use the back of a spoon to spread the mixture to evenly cover the entire circle.
- Bake at 250 °F for 1 hour, turning the baking sheets and swapping the shelves after 30 minutes. After an hour, turn off the oven and let the meringues sit in the closed oven with the light on for 2-2½ hours or until the surface of the meringue is dry and it can be lifted from the parchment paper without sticking to your fingers.
Making the Cream
- In a large bowl, stir together the mascarpone cheese and the vanilla just until blended.
- With an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream at low speed until foamy. Increase the speed to medium-high and with the mixer running gradually add in the remaining ½ cup of sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture.
- Assemble up to two hours before serving.
- Place one meringue onto a cake stand or serving plate. Spread ¼ (about two cups) of the sweet cream over the top of the meringue. An offset spatula or the back of a spoon works well to help spread ou the cream. Top the cream with 1 ½ cups of sliced strawberries. Repeat the layers, topping the last (4th) layer with the halved strawberries.
- Serve immediately, or refrigerate for up to two hours. If it is humid, I recommend keeping the meringue in an airtight container or bag and assembling it just before serving. It works best to use a sharp thin-bladed knife to slice.