Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cherry Berries in a Cloud

  Cherry Berries in a Cloud, a vintage dessert that begins with a baked meringue shell, is topped with a cream cheese, whipped cream and marshmallow layer and finished with a cherry and strawberry pie filling.

Cherry Berries in a Cloud

I had all but forgotten about this vintage dessert until my daughter-in-law's grandmother Mimi showed up with a pan of it at one of our holiday gatherings. Not only is it delicious as it always was, but it's a perfect dessert for Valentine's Day too!

  From my 70s Betty Crocker cookbook, one of my first cookbooks as a new bride!

Now, granted, this dessert does take a little bit of advance planning and needs to be prepared in stages, but it's mostly hands-off, inactive time in between. Just know that you can't decide today that you want this for dessert tonight!

It begins with a meringue base that is slow baked and dried overnight, much like we do with the fabulous Forgotten Cookies we often make at Christmas. Then a layer of whipped cream, cream cheese and mini marshmallows is folded together and added. The dessert is then refrigerated to set another day, after which, a layer of strawberries and cherry pie filling are added just before serving.

I know it seems a bit daunting to read that, but trust me, if you've never had it, I think you will find it worthy of the effort to share with your loved ones.

Don't worry if you've never made meringue - it's super easy and you can even follow my step-by-step picture tutorial if the thought makes you nervous.  You can shape the base into one large heart, a medium sized heart with several minis or basic circular shell cups. You can also spread it out into a square baker, or double the recipe for a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, which is probably most common today. But hey... Valentine's Day is just around the corner!

Here's how to make it.

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Beat room temperature egg whites with the cream of tartar until mixture is frothy. Increase the mixer to medium high and add 1/4 cup of the sugar, a little at a time, beating until soft peaks form. Continue beating until mixture is stiff. You can draw shapes on parchment paper and use the flip side to form molds, or just do it freehand.

Use a spatula to hollow out and form a bowl with a bottom and sides. Bake at 275 degrees F for 1 hour, turn off oven, and leave meringue to rest in oven overnight.

For the filling, beat the whipping cream until thick; remove from mixer bowl and set aside. Beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1/2 cup of the sugar and the vanilla.

Fold the whipped cream and marshmallows into the cream cheese and carefully spoon filling on top of the meringue heart, spreading all the way out to the edges, and making another heart shaped bowl inside. Refrigerate on the parchment paper, uncovered, at least 12 hours.

Just before serving, transfer the meringue shell(s) to serving plate(s). In a small bowl, mix together pie filling, strawberries and lemon juice. Spoon filling on top of the cream cheese layer. If desired, you can also pipe a decorative edge using additional whipped cream around the top edges of the heart. To serve, cut into wedges and garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.

Unable to view the printable below on your device? Tap/click here.

Posted by on February 11, 2015
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