Meringue Shell with Strawberries and Cream

Spanische Windtorte

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    8 to 10

    servings

Appears in

One of the most spectacular desserts in any cuisine, the Spanische Windtorte is a rococo meringue drum filled with berries and cream.

The keys to a successful Windtorte are a bit of organization and long, slow baking. On paper, it looks like the torte will take four hours to prepare but almost all of that time is spent in the oven. The first rule is never make meringue on a rainy or humid day. The meringue attracts the moisture in the air and will never dry properly.

Use an oven thermometer to ensure the proper low temperature. It is better to have the oven too low than too high. Do not be tempted to raise the oven temperature to speed things along or the meringue will crack and color beyond the correct very pale beige. To be sure the oven temperature remains low, open the oven door a few times during baking for 30 seconds, being careful not to slam the door. If you insist on a pristine, white Windtorte, you must have a very well calibrated oven that will maintain a steady 170°F, but most ovens don’t go that low. If you go this route, increase the baking times by one fourth. Read all of the information about egg whites before you proceed.

To construct the meringue bases, you will need pastry tips with 1/16- to ½-inch openings (one plain and one open-star), a large pastry bag (at least i4 inches long), two i8 X i3-inch (halfsheet) baking pans, and parchment paper. The meringue cake can be prepared one day ahead, but fill it just before serving so the shell remains nice and crisp.

Other berries can be used in addition to, or in place of, the strawberries. During berry season, a combination of red and golden raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries is especially luxurious. Maraschino liqueur has a unique flavor that elevates the filling to the same level as the meringue. Kirschwasser, a stronger cherry liqueur, would also be appropriate, as would Cognac or Grand Marnier.

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Ingredients

First Meringue

  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • cups superfine sugar

Second Meringue

  • 8 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 cups superfine sugar

Strawberry Filling

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maraschino or kirschwasser
  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

Method

  1. Position two racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and heat to 200°F. Line two 17 X 11-inch baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an 8- to 8½-inch round springform pan bottom or cake pan as a guide, and a thick, dark pen, draw four circles on the paper, spacing them as far apart as possible. Turn the papers over and fit them into the baking sheets; the circles should be visible from the other side.
  2. To make the first meringue: In a large, grease-free bowl, using an electric mixer at high speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks begin to form. Still beating, gradually add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff, shiny peaks form. Transfer to a large pastry bag fitted with a 7/16-inch-wide plain tip, such as Ateco Number 805.
  3. Pipe a ½- to ¾-inch ring of meringue just inside one of the circles, and continue in a spiral until it finishes in the center of the ring. Use a metal spatula to smooth the surface. (This disk will be the bottom of the torte.) Pipe three plain rings just inside each of the remaining circles. These will become the sides of the torte.
  4. Bake on separate racks until the meringues are pale beige and firm, and release easily from the parchment, about 50 minutes for the plain rings, and 1¼ hours for the disk. Occasionally open the oven door for 30 seconds or so to ensure that the oven temperature remains low. After 30 minutes of baking, switch the positions of the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Carefully remove the meringues from the paper. Cool completely.
  5. To make the second meringue, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Following the instructions in Step i, mark the paper with an 8-to 8½-inch circle, turn the paper over, and line the sheet. Line the second sheet with parchment paper, but do not mark the paper.
  6. Make the second batch of meringue according to the instructions in Step 2. Transfer half of the meringue to a large pastry bag fitted with a 9/16-inch-wide open star tip, such as Ateco Number 825. On the marked parchment paper, pipe another spiral of meringue just inside the circle and smooth it with a metal spatula. Pipe rosettes on top to completely cover the disk. (This will be the lid to the meringue shell.)
  7. Transfer about two thirds of the remaining meringue to the pastry bag. Place the baked meringue disk on a lined baking sheet. Using some of the meringue in the bag as cement, stack the three rings on the disk. Using a metal spatula and the meringue in the bowl, spread a smooth wall of meringue over the sides of the stacked rings to make a large “drum.” Transfer any remaining meringue in the bowl to the pastry bag. Pipe rosettes or shells around the top and bottom of the meringue “drum.”
  8. Bake the drum and the lid on separate racks until the meringues are pale beige, firm, and release easily from the paper, 1¼ to 1½ hours. After 45 minutes of baking, switch the positions of the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Turn off the oven and prop the door ajar. Let the meringues stand in the oven for at least 1 and up to 3 hours to dry completely.
  9. To make the strawberry filling: Just before serving, in a chilled large bowl, beat the cream and confectioners’ sugar until stiff. Fold in the maraschino, then the strawberries.
  10. To serve, transfer the meringue shell to a serving dish. Spoon the filling into the meringue and top with the lid. Use a serrated knife to cut into wedges, and serve immediately.

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