What’s even better than strawberry shortcake? Gluten free, grain-free strawberry shortcake meringue cups, stuffed with ripe strawberries and topped with fresh whipped cream! This beautiful dessert is a show-stopper, elegant and lovely on the table. It’s not hard, though…and its light, airy sweetness is the perfect way to crown a summer dinner out on the deck.
Meringue is such a wonderful thing! Naturally grain, gluten free, and fat free, it’s the perfect canvas for all sorts of wonderful desserts (or all by itself as a little light, sweet little snack). Depending on how comfortable you are with meringue, you can make these dessert cups using either evaporated cane sugar or maple syrup. If you’re new to the tasty miracle that is meringue, you’ll want to start with organic evaporated cane sugar (the method used in this recipe). If you’re already an expert, you could try sweetening it with organic grade B maple syrup. Maple syrup meringue is trickier and doesn’t last as long…moisture is meringue’s public enemy number one, so the extra moisture in the syrup a bit of a delicate balance. However, it can be done…so if you’re feeling up for the challenge you can head over to the Elana’s Pantry blog and try her recipe. For now, I’ll stick with the old standby and whip up the meringue using organic, cage-free egg whites, pure vanilla extract, and a little organic evaporated cane sugar. Whip it until it is thick, glossy and forms stiff peaks.
You can form the cups using mounds of meringue spooned on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet, or you can go fancy and pipe it using a large pastry bag with a large star tip. First, you might want to trace some circles (using a non-toxic pencil) on the paper for a guide. I used a ring from a wide-mouth canning jar for my guide.
Now, just pipe the meringue onto the paper, first filling in the bottom of the cups and then building up the sides with a few layers. This is one of the fun things about meringue, it’s so flexible and you can create all sorts of different shapes with it!
Once you’ve got your cups all ready, pop them in a warm oven for a couple of hours. Here’s where meringue can be tricky…it really depends on the humidity in the kitchen as to how quickly the meringues will dry out. We live in a dry climate, so I usually have good luck with this…but if I make them during a rainstorm, I sometimes end up with meringue that is more chewy than crispy. As long as it holds together, I’m honestly not picky about that…sweet yummy dessert is sweet yummy dessert, right? You’ll need to plan ahead a bit with thee, as they need to be in the oven for two hours.
Once your meringue has hardened, let the cups cool while you chop some fresh organic strawberries. This would be perfect for tiny, sweet berries fresh from your garden! Ours are not out yet, but I can just picture a tiny berry on a long stem topping each little shortcake.
Whip up some fresh organic cream or some organic coconut cream…I like to sweeten my whipped cream with honey, and this is a perfect place to use coconut whipped cream. You can mound the cream on top, or you can pipe it on in fancy little flowers and stars. It only takes a few minutes more to fill up a pastry bag with whipped cream.
Serve these right away, to keep the meringue nice and crisp. Strawberry shortcake is a great place to start, but you could fill the meringue cups with just about anything! Pudding, whipped cream flavored with chocolate and topped with raspberries, or lemon curd and fresh fruit…the possibilities are endless!
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Do you have any tips for making meringue?