I saw this Meringue Cake while watching the Food Network. It was on a show that I hardly ever watch (Mexican Made Easy), but I set my DVR to record this episode because I wanted to learn how to make a Mostachon (the Mexican name for this traditional cake). It's only a few ingredients and it comes together like magic. Honestly, I still find myself wondering how you can combine meringue, crackers and walnuts and it comes out the texture of a cake. Magic or not, it's delicious and it is now one of my most favorite cakes! I love egg-white desserts and this is no exception. I think this is a winner hands down, and I'll be making this again and again. I hope you will too!
Here's how you do it:
Separate 4 eggs. Put the whites into the bowl of a stand mixer, and the yolks can be saved for another recipe. If you let your eggs come up to room temperature, they are easier to whip; but they are very difficult to separate using the shell (without breaking the yolk). I find that the easiest way to get only whites in the bowl is to separate the eggs with my hands. Just crack it, drop it, and let the white fall through your fingers while the yolk stays on top. Messy but effective.
Turn the mixer on high and let the egg whites start getting frothy.
Keep the mixer running, and add a pinch of salt (1/4 tsp?)
1 tsp of vanilla,
1/2 tsp baking powder,
and 1 cup sugar. Pour this in very slowly as the egg whites whip up. After the sugar is in, the egg whites will start to stiffen and become shiny.
While the egg whites are whipping to stiff peaks, chop up one rounded cup of walnuts (probably 1 1/4 cup). My favorite way to chop nuts is in my mini food processor. Then I don't have to go chasing the nuts all over my cutting board.
You wanted them chopped pretty well, but not to crumbs. Remember you want to be able to make nice slices of the cake, so they can't be too big.
Next comes the crackers. Traditionally, you are to use Mexican Maria crackers, but since I don't regularly have those on hand I'm using these buttery ones. :) You know the name (Ritz). I'm also using the reduced fat kind, because that is what I have in my house, but use what you have in yours.
You need 22 crackers. Put them into a zip-top bag . . .
and gently crush them with your hand. You want some chunks, but not too big. 1/4 of a cracker or smaller please.
The egg whites should be all whipped up to a nice stiff meringue now. (When you take out the whisk attachment, peaks form both in the bowl and on the whisk - and they don't fall.)
Dump in the crushed crackers,
and the chopped nuts.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the crackers and nuts into the meringue.
When everything is well Incorporated,
Scrape out the batter into a sprayed 9 inch round pan (springform would be best, but if you're like me and don't own one you can just use a 9 inch round cake pan).
Smooth out the top, and it gets baked @ 350F for 30-40 minutes.
After 30 minutes, check the cake to see if its getting golden in color. Mine took 35 minutes. When it's golden, it's done. Let it cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes, and then transfer it onto a cake platter.
Since I'm using a cake pan and not a springform pan, I need to invert mine. The easiest way is to take a salad plate (a plate that is about the same size as the cake) and place it upside down on the cake. Holding the cake pan and the plate firmly, turn everything upside down so the cake is now sitting on the plate. Remove the cake pan and flip the cake back right side up onto a cake platter. (Sorry I couldn't take pictures of every step. It was just me in the kitchen this time, and I couldn't hold the cake pan, the plate and the camera at the same time. When I do eventually grow that third hand out of necessity I'll be so happy to take all the pictures I need to. Until that time, I'm sorry to inform you that my words will have to suffice.)
The plate did damage the top of my cake slightly, but not to worry. We're going to completely cover the top of the cake with a sour cream frosting and strawberries! No one will ever know. (Until now that is, when I'm showing and telling everyone about it. - Pretend you didn't see this.)
The frosting couldn't be simpler. 8 oz of softened cream cheese,
1/2 cup of sour cream,
1 tsp vanilla
and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
Beat this all together until smooth,
and it's done!
When the cake is completely cooled, dump all of the frosting on top and smooth out evenly from edge to edge.
Now, take some slice strawberries (about 1 lb) and decorate the cake. Starting at the outside edge, place the slices point side up right next to each other. It will look kinda like a sun or a flower.
When that row is done, start placing the next row right in front of the first.
When you get to the center, place one small slice in the middle and you're done. Isn't it pretty?
The cake, that once was stark white is now a nice brown and is a wonderful visual contrast to the white of the frosting and the red of the berries.
Nothing left to do but eat it! Believe me. It won't take long for it to be all gobbled up!
*Update. I made this for my father-in-law, for Father's Day, and they didn't have a round cake pan for me to use. I used a 9 inch square cake pan, and it worked fine. See?
Here's the recipe:
adapted from Mostachon
Strawberry Meringue Cake:
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
22 Ritz crackers crushed
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 lb sliced fresh strawberries, for garnishing
For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch nonstick springform pan (or 9 inch round cake pan) with nonstick cooking spray.
In an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the vanilla, baking powder, and salt while beating, and add the sugar slowly. Beat about 2 more minutes (until stiff peaks form). Turn the power off and fold in the walnuts and Ritz crackers. Transfer to the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes - until golden.
For the frosting: With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until soft peaks form and the mixture is smooth.
To assemble: Remove the cake from the oven. Let cool for 15 minutes. Remove the springform (invert and then place up right again if using a cake pan). Spread the frosting all over the cake. Garnish with the strawberries and serve.