The Swiss, English, or Polish – who is responsible for the creation of meringue? It is a little unclear, as the history books will tell us that a Swiss pastry chef was the first to invent this airy delight... or perhaps it's an English recipe handed down centuries ago. Maybe it was created by a chef for King Stanislas I Leszcynski in Poland. Regardless, we know the tell-tale sign of a successful meringue lies in the perfection of stiff peaks created from a heavy base of egg whites.
I’m thankful to live in a time where we all can walk through the historical timelines together and have pristine clarity on the “how-to's” and “how-not-to’s” of making the perfect meringue. I can offer you a few tips to ensure you whip and bake this to perfection. Let’s layer it down, together!
First off, make sure your egg whites are room temperature. This is key to getting the correct density required to fluff up this stuff. It’s also important that you slowly add in the sugar so that you incorporate it well and it doesn’t leave a gritty texture or weigh down the egg white mixture.
One last word of caution: When it comes time to removing your cooled baked meringue layers, be extremely delicate with them. Treat them like you would a newborn baby. Not kidding (well, perhaps a little). Either way, be gentle as they crack easily. If they do, it’s not the end of the world. I say it adds a little character!
Follow these few key tips and you’ll be well on your way to making this strawberry meringue cake.
Mascarpone or No Mascarpone
Always, always mascarpone! One of the beautiful elements to this cake is the addition of a mascarpone whipped cream frosting. A little cheese, sugar, cream, and vanilla extract – need I say more?
Mascarpone is an Italian cheese that is made by curdling milk cream with citric acid. The result is a buttery, soft, and divine cheese that is essential in other desserts like cheesecake. If you ever decide to make your own mascarpone, I hear the process isn’t too difficult. Maybe some day we’ll venture down this road together, but for now, I recommend visiting your local grocery store – or, in my case, our local and world-renowned dairy cheese shop – to pick up some mascarpone for this cake.
Did Someone Say Party?
It wouldn’t be a party if we didn’t throw in some other wonderful dishes to make it a true feast. A few I’d like to recommend serving with this cake include a salad, a dip, and a main dish.
Time to introduce our Arugula Salad with Candied Pecans, Parmesan Peppercorn Party Dip, and our Honey Thyme Quiche with Chicken and Cheddar. You cannot steer wrong when you balance a party with a light but tasteful salad, grab-and-go dip with chips or crackers, and a timeless but hearty main dish. Of course, this is all a prelude to the star of the show: this scrumptious strawberry meringue cake.
When it comes time to pair tea, there are a few I’d recommend brewing a pot or two of. For the savory courses, try Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise herbal tea with bergamot and sage or the Rejuvenation Blend ginger and lemon herbal tea. With the dessert, you cannot go wrong by pulling from the tea-infused whipped cream atop this cake and brewing up Royal Wedding black tea.
Strawberry Meringue Cake Recipe
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 and 1/2 cups sugar
- 7 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 and 1/4 cups cold heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons Royal Wedding black tea
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
Preheat oven to 250° F.
Cover 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 8-inch circles on each piece of paper. Turn parchment over and use masking tape to adhere to sheets. You can also use silicone mats, which work wonderfully for easy removal.
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy. Add salt and cornstarch. Gradually sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating at medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and mixture is glossy, about 4 minutes.
Place about 1 and 1/2 cups of egg white mixture onto each circle drawn on parchment paper, spreading to cover each circle completely.
Bake at 250° for 1 hour, turning baking sheets after 30 minutes. Remove and let cool completely before removing from the pan. Tops should be dry and not sticky.
Repeat this process twice for a total of four layers of meringue.
Mascarpone Cheese Frosting Directions:
Chill a large mixing bowl in the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes.
In your chilled bowl, mix mascarpone cheese and sugar on high speed until completely combined.
Add vanilla and heavy cream and mix on a low setting until it is mostly combined.
Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, around 2-3 minutes.
Whipped Cream Directions:
Make sure your mixing bowl is free from any residue by using a small amount of vinegar and wiping your bowl clean. Chill your mixing bowl in the freezer until you’re ready to mix.
On low heat in a small pan, while stirring constantly, bring heavy whipping cream and tea leaves to a simmer. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes.
Run your heavy whipping cream and tea mixture through a sieve and use a wooden spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as possible. You should have about one cup of liquid when this process is done.
Once you’ve strained the entire amount, set in the fridge to cool completely.
Attach your whisk attachment to your mixer. Remove your bowl from the freezer.
Add your heavy whipping cream and tea mixture, sugar, and vanilla extract to the bowl. Whip on medium-high speed until peaks begin to form. This happens around the 3-minute mark. This consistency of medium peaks are perfect for topping desserts.
Assemble the Masterpiece:
You’ll want to begin by gently taking one layer of your baked meringue filling and placing it on your cake stand.
Now take a few heaping dollops of your mascarpone whipped cream frosting and gently smooth over the meringue filling.
Take a portion of the sliced strawberries and layer on. Top with a second, thinner, layer of mascarpone frosting.
Continue to repeat this process until you’ve used all four layers of the meringue filling and you’ve set your final one atop this masterpiece.
To finish it off, take your tea-infused whipped cream and pipe onto the top layer, place some strawberries, and there you have it!
This cake is best served right away or can be chilled for a few hours in advance. It is okay to sit overnight, but expect some of the juice from the strawberries to drip. It’s still amazing, either way.
Cut into 12 equal slices and serve.