Strawberry Week and like Linda Haynes’ husband, we have a soft spot for meringue too, especially when it involves summer berries!
Linda: My husband has a soft spot for meringue, and my mother had a passion for the French pastry millefeuille. I was able to gain a lot of points with both of them when I made this for dessert. Even a meringue-baking novice will have no trouble getting this right. The meringue is simply spread on a baking sheet – no need for piping bags and steady hands. It can be made up to two days ahead. Cut it into pieces and store in an airtight container.
Feel free to change the nuts and fruit, depending on what’s in season. Almonds and peaches or plums and pistachios are delicious combinations. I have also switched up the whipped cream with softened ice cream in the summer.
You can assemble the dessert up to an hour and a half before serving.
1 cup hazelnuts (about 5 oz/150 g)
5 large egg whites
Pinch of kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 cups fresh strawberries, trimmed and cut lengthwise in slices 4 inch
thick, plus halved strawberries (with greens) for garnish
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
15 cups 35% (whipping) cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp sifted confectioners’(icing) sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
For the meringues, place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. While the nuts are still warm, wrap them in a tea towel and rub vigorously until most of the brown skin is removed. Finely chop by hand or in a food processor and set aside (the hazelnuts should still have some texture).
Reduce the oven temperature to 195°F.
Place the egg whites in a large bowl and put the bowl in warm water until the eggs are slightly warmer than room temperature. Add the salt and, using an electric mixer, whip them until they have soft peaks. Add 1 cup granulated sugar a tablespoon at a time and continue to whip until the peaks are stiff and glossy.Fold in the hazelnuts.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, using a drop of meringue under each corner to prevent the parchment from curling.
Spread the meringue evenly over the parchment paper to form a 14- by 11-inch rectangle. Bake for 2 hours. The meringue should be barely pale gold. Remove from the oven and transfer the parchment paper to a cutting board. Using a bread knife, immediately trim the edges (your treat to eat) and cut the meringue into 12 equal pieces, 5 by 2 inches. Don’t worry if a few of them crack. They can be used for the middle or bottom layer.
For the filling, toss the sliced strawberries, lemon juice and 1 Tbsp granulated sugar in a bowl 30 minutes before assembling the millefeuilles.
Put the cream and vanilla extract in a separate bowl and whip with an electric mixer until slightly thick. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp granulated sugar and continue to whip until the cream mounds and is spreadable.
To assemble the millefeuilles, spread 2 to 3 Tbsp whipped cream over 4 pieces of meringue and layer with strawberries. Continue with another meringue layer. Cover with cream and top with strawberries. Finish with a layer of meringue. Place on plate. Dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar and garnish with halved strawberries.
Copyright © 2009 by by Linda Haynes & Devin Connell.