Meringue Mascarpone Cake (gf)

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

I love meringue with it's crunchy, chewy texture. It's the most forgiving dessert as you can shape it in any way you wish and the more free-flowing, the better. For Valentine's day, use red berries, for Easter, lemon curd and toasted coconut, and in the Fall, roasted figs. And, as desserts go, it's fairly low in calories!

Makes 1 cake and serves 8 or more. Options for a smaller cake below.

For the meringue:

  • 8 large egg whites with no yolk, room temperature
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • You will need 3 baking sheets, lined with parchment paper

For the mascarpone cream:

  • 1 ½ cup mascarpone cream also known as mascarpone cheese
  • ¾ cup 2 heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 Tbls. sugar or to taste

To finish:

  • 2 to 3 cups fresh berries
  • 2 Tbls. powdered sugar for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 275ºF.
  2. Draw 3 circles of approximately 9-inches using a plate as a guide on the parchment-lined sheets. Turn the sheet so the pencil drawing is under the paper.
  3. In a *clean metal bowl with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites with the salt until they're holding soft peaks but are not stiff. Gently add in the sugar, spoonful after spoonful, still beating, until you've got a bowl full of gleaming, satiny, snowy and fairly stiff meringue.
  4. Sprinkle the cornstarch, vanilla, and vinegar on top and whisk just to combine.
  5. Spoon the meringue onto the baking parchments in three equal “blobs”. Use the back of the spoon or spatula to create flat, wavy discs.
  6. Put the sheet pans into the oven and and bake for 30 minutes. Switch the pans around and bake for another 30 minutes. If they begin to brown, prop a wooden spoon in the oven door to cool the temperature slightly. You want them to stay white.
  7. Turn the oven off; let meringues stand in closed oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or overnight,  until surface is dry and meringues can be lifted from paper without sticking.

Put a Post-it on the oven so that you don’t forget they are in there!

To assemble:

  1. In a bowl, whisk (or use a beater) the mascarpone cream ingredients just until the mixture forms soft peaks.
  2. Save the prettiest disc for the top.
  3. Place a meringue disc on a platter and spread with 1/2 of the mascarpone cream or to taste.
  4. On top of the cream, sprinkle one third of the berries.
  5. Place the second disc on top and repeat. Add the third disk and decorate with remaining berries.
  6. Just before serving, use a sieve to sprinkle cake with powdered sugar.

Tips:

  • *To clean a metal bowl for whipping egg whites, rinse the bowl with hot water and soap and then rinse with white vinegar and wipe the bowl dry with paper towel. On oily bowl or bits of fatty egg yolk will keep whites from whipping.
  • The cake can be served immediately and will be crunchy. It can also be chilled for up to two hours. The longer it’s chilled the softer the meringue will be. Both equally delicious.
  • Cut with a sharp, thin-bladed knife.
  • Pastry cream or lemon curd can be exchanged for mascarpone cream.
  • Add 1 to 2 tsp. (or more) instant espresso powder and more sugar (to taste) to the whipped cream. Use the coffee cream as your filling between the meringues.
  • For a smaller crowd simply make four smaller discs. The baked meringue freezes well and can be assembled frozen. Freeze two of the discs flat on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Once frozen, wrap with foil and place in a protected area of the freezer. Use the other two for your cake and cut the filling recipe in half.



 

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

This recipe is originally from an ice cream & sandwich shop in Santa Cruz known as The Bank Dick after a 1940’s film starring W.C. Fields. I’ve been making it since I was 15 and I still love it.          

Serves 8-10  

  • 1/2 cup melted butter divided into two 1/4-cup amounts
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and drained
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour, soy flour, corn flour or fine corn meal
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 large or 3 small eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • Butter for buttering the pan (optional, read on)

Mix the two flours in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line the bottom of a 10-inch cake pan or pie dish with parchment paper or, butter the dish well.

In the bowl of a mixer, whip the eggs until frothy. Add the 1 cup of brown sugar slowly and whip until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, spread the cranberries and nuts over the parchment-lined pan. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of the brown sugar. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the butter over the brown sugar and set aside.

Back to the cake: once the eggs are very fluffy and light yellow and using a spatula, gently fold in the flours just until blended. Drizzle in the remaining 1/4 cup of melted butter and fold into the batter, again, just until blended; a few streaks of butter is ok. Pour the batter over the cranberry mixture and spread evenly.                                                                                                             Bake for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If the cake is browning too much, reduce heat to 325˚F and/or loosely cover with foil.

Once done, remove from the oven and cool for 15 to 20 minutes; it should still be warm. Run a knife around the cake to loosen. Place a plate or serving platter over the cake and flip, holding both plate and cake pan, to un-mold the cake. Gently peel off the parchment paper and replace any cranberries stuck to the paper.

Cool and serve at room temperature with ice cream (salted caramel is delish), crème fraîche, or whipped cream.

P.S. If you're Swedish and have lingonberries, use them instead of or mixed with the cranberries.

Honey Marshmallows

Depending on the honey you use, these marshmallows will have a mild to strong honey flavor which is delicious in a marshmallow. Minced herbs like lemon verbena, nuts, shredded coconut, or cocoa nibs can be beaten in at the end to add a yummy texture and flavor.

  • 2 1/2 Tbls. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 cup organic cane sugar or regular sugar
  • 1 cup light honey
  • scant 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. neutral oil
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, more or less
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch, more or less

Lightly coat a rimmed half sheet or jelly-roll pan lightly with oil and set it aside. Measure all of your ingredients.

Pour 1/2 cup cold water in a large metal bowl. It’s best if you use a free-stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over water. Combine granulated sugar, honey, salt, and 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved trying not to splash sugar up the sides of the pan. Wash down the sides of the pan with a clean, wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.

Clip a candy thermometer onto the pan and raise heat to med-high. Continue to wash the sides of the pan and cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244˚F (firm-ball stage). 

Immediately remove the pan from heat and with the mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour the syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to medium gradually and then to high. Beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Slowly add vanilla and almond extract and butter, beat to incorporate.

In a small bowl, mix the the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Lightly oil a sheet pan or 9X13” pan, both bottom and sides. Sprinkle half of the sugar-cornstarch mixture over the pan to completely coat the bottom and sides. 

Pour the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan and using a lightly oiled spatula, spread it evenly into the pan. Dust the top with the remaining powdered sugar mixture. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

To cut, tap the pan over a cutting board so the powdered sugar mixtures falls onto the cutting board. Spread it onto the board adding more if needed. Turn out the marshmallow, peeling it out of the pan. Cut into squares (large or small) using a pizza wheel very lightly oiled and/or dusted with the powdered sugar mixture. Once cut, toss the marshmallows with the remaining sugar mixture to coat all sides. Store in an airtight container layered with wax paper for up to 3 weeks.

  • Food color (paste is best) can be added in the middle of the beating process once the mixture has cooled down.
  • Try flavorings other than vanilla.
  • Using mixer, stir in fresh herbs, cocoa nibs, shredded coconut, or nuts when the marshmallow is just about done and before putting into the pan to “dry”.

Ginger, Cardamon & Pear Cake with Roasted Pears & Crème Fraîche

This cake is the perfect Autumn cake. The whole wheat and spices shouldn't be hidden so I skip the overly sugary glaze and leave it as is serving it with lovely roasted pears and Crème Fraîche or whipped cream. A simple slice for breakfast is just fine too. 

  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 2 cups lightly packed brown sugar (or 1 cup brown & 1 cup coconut or date sugar)
  •  1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt
  • scant 3/4 tsp. cardamon
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. ground dry ginger
  • 4 large eggs, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup milk, apple or pear juice, room temp.
  • 1/2 cup minced crystalized ginger
  • 2 1/4 cups (300g or 11 oz.) aerated white whole wheat flour 
  • 1 pear
  • 9- or 10- cup bundt pan, lightly buttered
  • Whipped Crème Fraîche or cream with a touch of sugar or honey

Preheat the oven to 350˚F

In a small bowl, sift the baking powder, salt and spices.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar(s) and spice-baking powder-salt blend at medium speed until smooth and fluffy. Add the minced ginger and blend.

Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth after each egg. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Once fluffy,  add the flour, one-third at a time, alternating with milk. Scrape the bottom after each addition and blend just until incorporated.

Place just enough batter into the bottom of the pan to cover the bottom; this will keep the pear chunks from sticking to the pan.

Peel (optional), core, and dice pear then stir pieces into the batter and pour into bundt pan. Level the top with the back of a spoon. 

Bake the the cake until a tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on oven and type of pan used. Check often and record how long it takes on your recipe for next time. (wink)

Cool for 10-15 minutes. Gently pull cake away from the sides to loosen the cake. Place a cooling rack over the cake and flip the cake over, gently removing pan. Cool completely.

Roasted Pears

These pears are yummy on their own, see post for Roasted Autumn Pears, Honey, Cardamon & Halvah and they are best served at room temperature baked on the day you plan to serve them. Although, leftovers are always tasty! 

  • 6 firm pears, quartered and seeds removed but stems left on 
  • 1 lemon or orange
  • 2 Tbls. honey  
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon mixed with 1 Tbls. sugar

Place the fruit on a baking dish that is large enough to give them a little room. Squeeze the lemon or orange juice over fruit and toss to keep the pears from browning. Leave pears cut-side up. They should not be squished together. 

Drizzle with honey and then sprinkle with sugar-cardamon mixture. Let sit on the counter for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°.

Roast the fruit for 10 to 15 minutes or until coked through when pierced with a knife. They should be slightly colored and not mushy. 

Remove from the oven and cool. 

 

 

Roasted Autumn Pears, Honey, Cardamon & Halvah

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Serves 6

  • 6 pears (firm but not hard), quartered and seeds removed but stems left on

  • 2 Tbls. honey mixed

  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon mixed with 1 Tbls. sugar

  • 1/4 cup shredded halvah (sesame seed “candy” found in Mediterranean markets)

  • 1/4 cup lightly toasted chopped walnuts, sliced or slivered almonds or pistachios

  • 1 Tbls. toasted sesame seeds (black seeds if possible)

  • 1 cup crème fraîche

  • 1 Tbls. powdered sugar

Place the fruit on a baking dish that is large enough to give them a little room. They should not be squished together. Drizzle with honey and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Sprinkle with cardamon-sugar mixture and roast the fruit for 10 to 15 minutes or until coked through when pierced with a knife. They should be slightly colored and not mushy.

Whip the crème fraîche and powdered sugar just until soft peeks form.

Divide the cooked pears among individual dishes and spoon remaining juices left in the baking dish over pears.

Place a dollop of crème fraîche on each serving.

Garnish with the shredded halvah, nuts and sesame seeds.

Homemade Crème Fraîche:

Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover with a towel or cheese cloth and let stand at room temperature (about 70°F) from 8 to 24 hours, or until very thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days.

Cherry & Goat Cheese Clafoutis

Is this an appetizer or dessert? I use it for both. Clafoutis is a simple "peasant" dish from the Limousine region of France. Cherries are most traditional in this dish but other stone fruits like pluots, plums, prunes and pears are delicious too. In this updated version by Patricia Wells, goat cheese and ground almonds are added making it equally delicious as an appetizer or lightly sweet dessert. Serves 6-8

  • Unsalted butter for preparing the baking dish
  • 1 1/2 pounds cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) very fresh, moist goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • A pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting the gratin
  • Equipment: One 10 1/2 inch (27-cm) round porcelain baking dish

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter the baking dish and arrange the cherries in a single layer. 

In a bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients except the confectioners' sugar and whisk to blend. This can be done in a food processor. Pour the mixture over the cherries. 

Place the baking dish in the center of the oven. Bake until the gratin is firm and a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove to a rack to cool. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar, and serve in wedges. 

  • Decrease the sugar to 3 Tbls. and serve with bread as a cheese appetizer.
  • Serve for dessert with extra fresh cherries on the side.
  • Substitute halved plums.
  • Leave out the sugar and substitute plum or cherry tomatoes: slice tomatoes in half and lightly salt the cut side. Layer in paper towel to drain for 30 minutes and then proceed with recipe and 1/2 tsp. dried thyme.

At Home in Provence, Patricia Wells

Mix & Match Summer Fruit Crisp

Summer Fruit Crisp

The filling:

  • 8 cups sliced stone fruit, berries, pitted cherries, blueberries, lingonberries, half each strawberries and sliced rhubarb
  • 1/2 to 1 cup sugar or coconut sugar (depending on sweetness of fruit)
  • 2-3 Tbls. quick cook tapioca (do you like runny/juicy or thick/pudding-like?)
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange or 2 lemons or 3 limes
  • 1 pinch of sea salt

Optional:

  • 1 Tbls. Chia seeds
  • Small amount of grated peeled ginger or 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp. minced lemon thyme, basil or lemon verbena
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg - peaches
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract - peaches
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamon pods crushed with a spoon of sugar - strawberry rhubarb

Preheat oven to 375˚ In a small bowl, mix the sugar, salt, tapioca and spices if using. In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar mixture. Blend the citrus juice, rind and extract or herbs if using, together and then pour over fruit. Toss. Transfer mixture to a 9x13-inch gratin dish that has been lightly buttered. Place dish on a foil or parchment lined cookie sheet with edges. 

Make your topping of choice and sprinkle over crisp squeezing clumps in your hands to create “chunks”. Bake until fruit juices are bubbling and topping is golden brown, 50–70 minutes. If the topping gets too brown, tent it loosely with foil. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for at least one hour.

Granola Topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp. optional ginger, cinnamon, etc. (whatever is used in the fruit portion of the recipe)
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups granola without dried fruit

In a bowl, whisk the flour with the brown sugar, baking powder, spices if using, and salt. Stir in the granola and butter. Using your hands, toss the mixture to blend the butter into the dry ingredients. 

Oat Topping:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour*
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. optional ginger, cinnamon, etc. (whatever is used in the fruit 
  •   portion of the recipe)
  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Optional: 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, sliced almonds or chopped nuts, puffed quinoa...

In a bowl, whisk the flour with the brown sugar, baking powder, spices if using and salt. Stir in the oats, nuts and butter. Using your hands, toss the mixture to blend the butter into the dry ingredients.

*almond flour, spelt, buckwheat or a small amount (1/4 cup) rye can be blended or substituted for AP flour.