Recipe: Crunchy almond butter meringue with berries and cream

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 4, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 2D

Prep time: 40 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours, plus cooling time for meringue

Serves 8 to 10

A crisp meringue made richer with almond butter makes a fine platform for berries and cream. If strawberries aren't available, use raspberries or blackberries. If almonds aren't your thing, you can replace the almond butter and chopped almonds with hazelnut, cashew or peanut butter and chopped nuts of the same type.

Whatever nut butter you choose, it should contain only roasted nuts and maybe a little salt – no sugar, other sweeteners or emulsifiers. The nut oil will separate in the jar, so thorough stirring is essential.

Note: The baked meringue can be stored in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks.

Recipe from "Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts" by Alice Medrich (Artisan, $25.95, 288 pages).

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup well-stirred smooth or chunky natural almond butter, at room temperature (see note above)

Salt (optional)

3 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

2/3 cup sugar, plus more for the cream and strawberries

1/4 cup roasted almonds, salted or unsalted, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 pints strawberries (may substitute raspberries or blackberries)

1 cup chilled heavy cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

If the nut butter is not salted, add a pinch of salt and stir to combine.

Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the large bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat at medium speed (for a stand mixer) or high speed (for a hand-held mixer) until the egg whites are creamy white and hold a soft shape when the beaters are lifted. Gradually add the sugar a heaping teaspoonful at a time, taking 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in all. The meringue should be very stiff.

Scatter small spoonfuls of the almond butter over the meringue and use a large flexible spatula to fold the almond butter not quite completely into the meringue; some streaks of almond butter should remain.

Scrape the meringue into the center of the parchment paper and use the back of a spoon to spread it into a shallow shell roughly 9 inches in diameter and with a slightly raised rim. Sprinkle the almonds over the rim.

Bake for 2 hours. Turn the oven off and leave the meringue in the oven to cool. Once it has cooled completely, the meringue can be stored in an airtight container for at least 2 weeks.

For assembly: Transfer the meringue to a serving plate.

Cut the strawberries in half, or into quarters if they are large, and toss with a sprinkling of sugar to taste.

Use chilled beaters and a chilled bowl to whip the cream until it is just about to become stiff, then add sugar to taste and whip to stiff peaks. Spoon over the meringue, leaving the edges showing. Top with the berries and serve immediately.

Per serving (based on 10): 230 calories, 4 g protein, 21 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 55 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 16 g sugar

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