To celebrate my Beloved’s birthday last week, he requested “something berry” for a cake. (Our daughter was hoping he would choose chocolate cake, though, so we “snuck in” some chocolate to this fun dessert, too.)
We’ve had especially hot summer days lately, so a lighter and healthier dessert sounded good. (And it was a good finish to the hearty “manly meal” I had cooked, which included butcher-clearance sale steaks and baked potatoes, plus veggies from our garden.)
I accomodated some special dietary needs with this dessert, so it is gluten-free and dairy-free. The meringue layers contain quite a bit of sugar, so I only used stevia as a sweetener for the chocolate filling.
It is a beautiful dessert appropriate for a special occasion, but is still more frugal than a bakery cake. (My costs included about $5 worth of fruit, 1 $2.50 can of coconut milk, and $1.50 worth of eggs- the backyard chickens were slacking off.) We did garnish it with a small handful of blueberries from a bush in our front yard. So, added to my staple pantry items, probably around a $10 cake.
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My little helper kept breaking off tastes from that bottom meringue layer whenever I stepped away. (Licking the beaters was a fun bonus, too.) If you’re attempting a pristine-looking cake, you may not want to choose a toddler as an assistant. But we had fun.
Summer Fruit Meringue Cake
1 Cup Cashews
2 Tbl Cornstarch (gluten-free)
1/8 tsp. real salt
2 Cups Raw Sugar, divided
7 Egg Whites
1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
1 Recipe of this Chocolate “Frosting” from Chocolate-Covered Katie
I used 3 stevia packets as a sweetener.
4-5 Cups of sliced fresh fruit (We used a combination of strawberries, kiwi, and nectarines, plus the blueberries on top.)
Refrigerate the can of coconut milk several hours ahead of time to thicken.
Preheat oven to 250 F, and cover two large baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper.
To prepare the meringue layers, process cashews, cornstarch, and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a food processor about 40 seconds until finely ground. In a separate bowl, with a mixer, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add remaining sugar 1 Tbl. at a time, at med-high speed, until glossy, stiff peaks form.
Slowly pour in half of the cashew mixture, and fold it into the meringue. Then repeat, carefully folding in the remainder of the cashew mixture until combined.
On each prepared baking sheet, smooth out two large circles of meringue (about 8″ each); it will look like two very large meringue cookies! (You will have a total of 4 meringue layers.)
Bake at 250 F for 1 hour, rotating pans halfway through. Turn oven off, and let sit in oven for 2-2 1/2 hours, until meringues are dry enough to be lifted off the paper without sticking.
Prepare Chocolate Mousse Frosting Recipe, just using the thick “cream” portion at the top (not the watery part of the milk). Slice fruit.
Once meringues are cool, layer them on your cake stand or plate. First, a meringue, then spread with chocolate mousse frosting, and then top with fruit slices. Repeat, until all layers are complete.
To serve this delicate cake, slice with a very sharp, thin knife (like a fillet knife), and use a cake server utensil to get the slices safely to the plates.
One important bit of information: The coconut-chocolate filling will melt in the summer heat (as you can see it doing in the top photo). Also, the cake should be refrigerated for no more than 2 hours, and eaten right away, or it will begin to dissolve. So, no leftovers. Invite a friend. It’s worth it.