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Merengue de Morango (Strawberry meringue)
In Brazil tortes are generally not iced with butter cream, but more traditionally with fresh whipped cream, glazes, meringue and marshmallow. In Sao Paulo, at the leading upscale shopping centers, the company Amor aos Pedaos prepares a delightful fresh strawberry creation that is typical of Brazilian style pastry.
Deceptively simple to make, it almost must be assembled at the last minute to minimize the migration of moisture into the crisp meringue layers. These 10-inch diameter, about 3/4-inch high, layers can be baked ahead using any standard meringue recipe. Just be sure to keep the meringue from browning and to bake very, very dry -- in other words, keep the heat down to dry then out rather than "bake" them.
The torte is assembled by layering the meringue rounds with fresh strawberries and fresh whipped cream.
Brazilian whipped cream is flavored with vanilla, but has much less sugar than normal. This allows the wonderful flavor of the cream to come through.
Some of the strawberries are cut into pieces and combined with a little sugar to make a slightly sweetened fresh filling. The top is garnished with halves of fresh, vine ripened berries.
By leaving the sides exposed and allowing the whipped cream filling and meringue layers to show, the torte presents a genuine home-made appearance.
© Reuel J. Smith