Berries are a sweet summer treat and they are also nutritional powerhouses full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants like anthocyanins, ellagic acid, and resveratrol that may help to prevent cancer. Berries are good for your heart and may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of obesity and diabetes.
This week’s recipe features Raspberries in a delicious icebox cake recipe, and was sent to CCSA as part of a series of emails from our resident chef, Dr. Linda Doody. She has been sharing her extensive collection of favorite recipes with friends, family, and the CCSA team as a means of maintaining connections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Better than any argument is to rise at dawn and pick dew-wet red berries in a cup.”
– Wendell Berry
Raspberry Chocolate Meringue Icebox Cake
Gourmet Magazine, Zanne Zakrof (June 1994)
- 4 large egg whites (eggs are easiest to separate straight from the refrigerator, but the whites should be allowed to come to room temperature before whipping in order to attain the greatest volume. Any speck of yolk in the whites will deflate the meringue. Also make sure that the mixing bowl is squeaky clean, since residual fat or oil can also deflate meringue)
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1½ cups sugar (standard granulated sugar is completely acceptable, but fine sugar whips into egg whites more easily)
- 2¾ cups heavy cream
- 6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped (Valrhona or Callebaut are recommended)
- 1½ teaspoons unflavored gelatin
- 3 Tbsp cold water
- 1½ cups sour cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 pints fresh raspberries (blueberries can be substituted for part of the raspberries)
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and trace three 8-inch circles onto the paper.
- With an electric mixer (or a stand mixer, which is best), beat egg whites with cream of tartar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl until they just hold soft peaks. Add 1 cup sugar gradually while beating and continue to beat meringue until it holds stiff peaks. Transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a ¾-inch plain tip and pipe onto circles, filling them in with a knife or offset spatula. Smooth meringues with a long metal spatula or knife. (Note: As an alternative to a pastry bag and tip, circles can be made by spreading meringue freehand with a spatula.)
- Bake meringues 30 minutes, then switch the positions of the baking sheets in the oven. Bake meringues 30 minutes more or until pale golden and crisp. (If the weather is humid, the cooking time may be longer.) Cool meringues completely and peel off paper. (Meringues may be baked 1 day ahead and kept in a turned-off oven.)
- In a saucepan, bring ¼ cup of heavy cream just a boil and remove from heat. Add chocolate and stir mixture until chocolate is completely melted. Divide chocolate mixture between 2 meringue layers and gently spread so even, leaving ½-inch borders. Chill until the ganache is hardened, about 10 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over water and soften 1 minute. Heat mixture over low heat, stirring until gelatin is dissolved, and keep warm. In a bowl with an electric mixer (or stand mixer), beat the remaining 2½ cups heavy cream with the remaining ½ cup sugar until it just holds stiff peaks, then beat in sour cream and vanilla. Add gelatin mixture in a stream while beating and continue to beat until mixture holds stiff peaks.
- Arrange 1 ganache-topped meringue on a serving plate (place strips of wax paper under the edges to keep the plate clean) and spread it with about 1½ cups cream mixture, mounding at the edge. Arrange 1 pint raspberries over the cream mixture and top with the second ganache-topped meringue. Repeat the procedure with about 1½ cups more cream mixture and another pint raspberries, and top with the third meringue.
- Transfer about 1 more cup cream mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and reserve for decoration. Frost top and side of cake with remaining cream mixture and decorate with reserved mixture. Chill cake at least 2 hours and up to 8 hours. (Remove wax paper carefully.) Scatter remaining raspberries on and around the cake. Cut with a serrated knife.
According to the article, this recipe (originally called bocconi dolci, or sweet mouthful) is adapted from the cookbook A Treasury of Great Recipes (1965) co-authored by Vincent and Mary Price. Yes, the same Vincent Price who had creepy roles in horror films such as House of Wax. The book is a collection of classic recipes from legendary establishments in Europe, Mexico, and the US, such as this one from Sardi’s in New York, but reworked into simplified, unpretentious versions for the home kitchen. The Gourmet author made further modifications such as substituting raspberries for strawberries, adding a ganache in place of melted semisweet chocolate bits, substituting sour cream for part of the heavy cream in the frosting, and adding gelatin so the cake holds longer in the refrigerator.
The recipe is actually easy and somewhat forgiving. If one of the meringues cracks, no one will ever know. The cream mixture softens the meringue somewhat, but the ganache helps to keep the cake from getting too soggy. The combination of cream, crunchy meringue, chocolate, and fruit tastes fabulous and the cake looks impressive. Just be aware that it is hard to cut the cake neatly into individual servings and that it does not travel well.