Baci alle Fragole

Meringue Kisses with Whipped Cream and Strawberries

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Preparation info

  • Makes

    12

    ample servings
    • Difficulty

      Easy

Appears in

Great Italian Desserts

By Nick Malgieri

Published 1990

  • About

These luscious pyramids of baked meringues interspersed with whipped cream and tiny wild strawberries normally make their appearance along with the first fragoline — wild strawberries — in May. Earlier in the year the dessert is usually made with a sweetened chestnut puree (see the variation at the end of this recipe).

The quality of this dessert depends mostly upon the freshness and ripeness of the berries. Wild strawberries are infrequently available in the United States, but perfectly ripe local berries are a good alternative. And, although not particularly Italian, a mixture of raspberries, blueberries, and currants or gooseberries would make an admirable substitute.

For success with this recipe, choose a day that is neither overly hot nor humid for assembling, so that the cream does not melt during the time it takes to put together the bad at room temperature. After they are assembled, they will hold up well in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 hours; a longer wait will make the meringues soften too much.

Ingredients

  • 2 batches Meringa
  • 2 pints small, ripe strawberries
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Method

Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment or aluminum foil. Prepare the meringue and place half of it in a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch star tube (Ateco #4). Holding the bag perpendicular to the pan and about 1 inch above it, squeeze out large stars, about inches in diameter, spacing them at least 1 inch apart. Bake the meringues at 225 degrees (or the lowest setting on your oven) for about 1 hour. Press one to see if it is dry: if only the smallest amount in the center of the meringue remains moist (no more than the center ¼ inch), remove from the oven and cool on the pans. For advance preparation, leave the baked meringues on the parchment or foil, stack the parchment or foil, and slide into a large plastic bag. Keep in a cool, dry place for up to several weeks before assembling the dessert. If necessary, crisp the meringues at the lowest oven temperature and allow to cool before proceeding with assembling the dessert.

To assemble, rinse the strawberries and hull all but 6 of them (these will be used as a garnish). Halve the hulled strawberries. Combine the cream with the sugar and vanilla and whip until firm but not separated.

Arrange 8 or 10 of the meringues in the center of a large, round platter, in the form of a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Spoon about cup of the whipped cream on top of the meringues and scatter with some of the halved berries. Place more meringues on top of the berries, using about 6, as in the illustration. Repeat with more cream and berries, adding 1 or 2 more layers of the meringues, with fewer meringues in each layer. End with a single meringue at the top.

To decorate the dessert, place the remaining whipped cream in a pastry bag fitted with a ½-inch star tube and pipe rosettes of the cream between the meringues. Halve the remaining 6 berries, cutting right through the hulls, and arrange them here and there on the pyramid of meringues, pressing them into the whipped cream. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time, no longer than 4 hours. Immediately before serving, dust with the confectioners’ sugar.

Confectioners’ sugar for finishing