Schaum Tortes were a staple of my Christmas Eves growing up. My paternal grandmother, Mamie, would whip up these crunchy yet pillowy meringues and serve them with sliced strawberries and fresh whipped cream. My cousins and I would plop into the dense black leather couches in her living room, munching away and watching Christmas shows on SNICK while our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles would do their boring adult stuff. (In hindsight, what they did then is likely what I enjoy doing now: just sitting around and talking about things that matter.)
My grandmother unexpectedly passed away a few days after Christmas in 2008. Ever since then, Christmas has always, well, been a bit of a downer for me. Not that I spend my holidays weeping, but I always think of Mamie more often than not. However, regardless of how bummed I may feel, I’m always one to try and make myself, and those around me, happy.
This year, with Mamie on my mind, I decided to give Schaum Tortes a try.
Schaum Tortes translates into “foam cakes” from German, and some research on their origin lead me to find that they are popular amongst Wisconsinites of German origin. Well, Mamie was a Wisconsinite of German origin, so that makes a hell of a lot of sense now! Ha!
Many people find Schaum Tortes similar to Pavlova, their Russian equivalent. Their crisp outsides yield a pillowy meringue inside; it melts in your mouth like spun sugar. Schaum Tortes must be served with sliced strawberries and fresh whipped cream. It’s a rule! (Though, admittedly, I’m a sucker for Reddi Whip and that’ll NEVER change.)
I’m struck with a bit of nostalgia at this moment.
Cheers, Mamie. I hope I did you proud with these Schaum Tortes…even if I overcooked the first batch I made. Haaa.
(Makes 4 large tortes)
– 3 egg whites
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Before We Get Started…
– When separating egg whites, be sure no yolk mixes in. Even the smallest amount of yolk will not allow a proper meringue to form.
1.) Preheat oven to 275°F.
2.) In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg whites until they are foamy, approximately 30 seconds.
3.) Add cream of tartar and vinegar to egg whites; beat until soft peaks form, approximately 3 – 5 minutes.
4.) In increments, add sugar to bowl, continuing to beat until all sugar is combined. Beat until stiff peaks form.
5.) On a lightly greased or parchment paper-covered baking sheet, divide meringue mixture into four tortes, slightly denting the middles with a spoon and building up the sides to form a shallow well.
6.) Bake in oven for 45 – 50 minutes; turn off heat and keep tortes in oven, door closed, for an additional 45 – 60 minutes.
7.) Remove from oven and place on wire racks to cool. Serve with strawberries and whipped cream.