Although the plan was to go out for birthday dinner last night, the post steak experience would be a larger gathering at home with dessert (homemade of course), candles, presents and friends. Doing a birthday dessert for an 18 year old of the male persuasion can have its complications. Gone are the days of theme cakes shaped like cars and castles. Whatever I created couldn’t be so attractive that it looked like it was a show piece from The Cake Boss. Being 18 does demand some level of sophistication though and one must be careful to not make it with so much detail that it looks downright girly.
An unaccounted for memory flashback had me giving consideration to a frozen torte that I first made almost 20 years ago. I love Bonnie Stern. As I cruised through my bookshelf dedicated to Bonnie Stern and Canadian Living cookbooks, I did manage to come across the ‘Holy Grail’. There tucked away on sugar splattered pages was the recipe I was looking for. Frozen Lemon Meringue Torte. Now Bonnie had it frilled up with candied violets, perhaps a sprinkle of lavender and some green leaves. I knew that this would be optional and the rougher I was with the precision of the construction, the better.
This cake is not a cake but a torte. Torte says European flair. Sophistication point number one. Chocolate is classic but lemon says ‘individual’. Sophistication point number two. Loose layering of meringue and semi-freddo mixture, topped with crumbled meringue says ‘shabby-chic’ to a female but ‘deconstruction’ to a male. Sophistication point number three.
The punch of lemon was perfect. Although, technically a fairly rich dessert, the lemon pow really cuts through that. The bites of meringue were like soft crunches of candy. Whoever served us tea knew it was to be a better match than coffee.
The birthday started well and ended well and was lemony in-between.
FROZEN LEMON MERINGUE TORTE
Author: Bonnie Stern
Source: Canadian Living’s Desserts
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
6 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Trace four 8-inch (20 cm) circles on parchment paper; place on baking sheets.
MERINGUES: Combine 3/4 cup of the sugar, cornstarch and rind; set aside.
In bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually beat in remaining sugar until stiff peaks
form. Add vanilla; fold in reserved sugar mixture. Spoon meringue onto circles, smoothing tops. Bake in 300ºF (150ºC) oven for 1 hour or until dry and lightly golden. Let cool. (Meringues can be stored in cool, dry place for up to 3 days.)
FILLING: In saucepan over medium-high heat, heat sugar, butter, lemon rind and juice, stirring, until sugar dissolves.
In bowl, beat eggs; whisk in lemon mixture. Return to saucepan and cook, stirring, just until boiling; simmer for 1 minute. Pour into bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on surface; chill in refrigerator to room temperature. (Mixture can be refrigerated for up to 1 day.) Whip cream; fold into lemon mixture.
ASSEMBLY: Crumble least-attractive meringue for garnish; set aside. Fit one meringue into 9-inch (2.5 L) spring-form pan. Pour one-third of the lemon mixture over top. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle crumbled meringue over top. Freeze for at least 8 hours. (Torte can be removed from pan, wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 week.) Let soften in refrigerator for 45 minutes before serving. Makes 12 servings.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 382 Calories; 19g Fat (42.8% calories from fat); 6g Protein; 50g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 161mg Cholesterol; 126mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Fruit; 0 Non-Fat Milk; 3 1/2 Fat; 3 Other Carbohydrates.