Unless you’re from Wisconsin, you may never have heard of Schaum Torte (foam cake), a favorite among German immigrant families. You may have heard of this dessert called simply "a meringue," “Pavlova” or even a "Bizet." Essentially all of the desserts are one in the same -- meringue, filled with sweetened whipped cream, and topped with fruit.
Like pavlova, there are two schools of thought when it comes to schaum torte -- one side insists that the meringue be crisp on the outside, but squoodgy (marshmallowy) in the center; the other camp insists that a good schaum torte is dried and crisp throughout.
My family staunchly swears by the first approach. In fact, I actually grew up utterly convinced that the women at church who made the crisp version were simply bad cooks who had made the mistake of baking their schaum tortes too long!! Similarly, Peef has fond memories of sneaking seconds of the fabulous Schaum tortes made by members of the German-Lutheran Ladies' Aid at his church. Although his boyhood palate didn't discriminate against any sort of sugary goodness, he will confess that he always preferred the marshmallowy version to the "old crusty kind."
My grandmother, who turns 90 this March, has made Schaum torte every year for Easter for as long as I can remember. Hers was always baked in a springform pan, flavored with both vanilla and almond extract, and topped with sliced strawberries (often those she picked and froze from her own garden). And it was always topped with freshly whipped cream.
I'll never forget the day I made my first schaum torte. It was toward the end of my senior year in high school, and I caught wind of the fact that my prom date loved the dessert. Since we'd be gathering at a friend's house to hang out after the dinner and dance, I decided I'd surprise him with a homemade Schaum torte. I called my grandmother and asked her for her recipe. She even lent me her favorite 11-inch springform pan -- which she claimed gave the torte a particularly good rise.
I was understandably nervous about the project. I'd never made a meringue before, and I was certain that all manners of tragedy would strike. So, I followed her recipe to the very last detail... room temperature ingredients. Beat eggs for 15 minutes. Pour in sugar while beating (no stopping!). Add baking powder, lemon juice, and flavorings. Beat for another 15 minutes. Spread into buttered springform -- and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
If I remember correctly, everyone was too distracted by a number of prom night tragedies (a last minute break-up, some late-night miscommunication, an off-handed comment) to pay much attention to my torte. But, the act of making the torte became, itself, a kind of symbolic gesture -- something done out of love and affection.
Since that day, grandma's Schaum torte recipe has seen many variations. I've baked it in my own springform pan with great success. I've shaped it into individual tortes. I've used the leftover egg yolks to make lemon curd to serve alongside. And I've served it with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and pomegranates. This particular version happens to be a chocolate variation made with hazelnut extract, cocoa powder and little bits of bittersweet chocolate... layered with a bit of whipping cream, and embellished with fresh raspberries. Honestly -- it might be one of my favorite versions. After all, everything is better with chocolate, right?Recipe Revival web site to vote for our recipe. You can vote for our recipe once a day through March 15, 2010... and we'll take all the votes we can get!
The Final Grand Prize winner gets a new cookware set, dinner for four in Chef’s studio and their recipe served on the Il Mito restaurant menu for an entire year. Net proceeds from the sale of that menu item goes to the charity of their choice.
If we win, we'll be donating the proceeds from the sale of our Schaum torte to the Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, a local advocacy group that works to prevent hunger and malnutrition by providing food to people in need today and by promoting social policies to achieve food security tomorrow.
Recipe (on Burp! Recipes): Chocolate Hazelnut Schaum Torte
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