This grown-up birthday cake blends delicately crisp meringues, orange-scented cream, a hint of chocolate, and fresh fruit. Superfine sugar dissolves quickly into the beaten egg whites; if you can't find superfine sugar in your grocery store, make your own by processing granulated sugar in a food processor for about a minute. If you can't find clear vanilla extract, use regular vanilla extract; your meringue will be a little darker but just as delicious. Prepare the meringues up to three days ahead, and store at room temperature in an airtight container. Top with filling and fruit shortly before serving.
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 large egg whites
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 cups frozen extracreamy whipped topping, thawed
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
2 tablespoons grated semisweet chocolate, divided
1/2 cup halved strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup raspberries
Fresh mint sprigs (optional)
Orange rind strips (optional)
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 200°.
To prepare the meringues, cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Draw 3 (8-inch) circles on paper. Turn paper over, and secure with masking tape.
Place first 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Divide egg mixture among 3 drawn circles on baking sheet. Spread mixture onto circles using the back of a spoon. Bake at 200° for 2 hours or until dry. Turn oven off; cool meringues in closed oven at least 1 hour. Carefully remove meringues from paper.
To prepare filling, combine whipped topping, liqueur, and 1 1/2 teaspoons rind. Place 1 meringue on a serving platter; top with 1 cup whipped topping mixture and 2 teaspoons chocolate. Repeat layers twice with remaining meringues, whipped topping mixture, and chocolate. Combine berries; arrange over torte. Garnish with mint and rind strips, if desired.