Schaum Tortes

December 2020 Update

During a holiday season that’s going to be just plain…well…WEIRD…I’m finding comfort in creating old holiday recipes. (What are we calling it? #CovidChristmas ? #PandemicHolidays ? Someone tell me the appropriate levity-heavy hashtag here!) I’m pulling this gal out of the archives for public consumption, because we could all use a few holiday recipes to lift our spirits nowadays.

When it comes to Schaum Tortes, something about the crispness – yet- toothsomeness of my grandmother’s recipe will always transport me back to Christmas Eves of my youth, drowning them in whipped cream and sliced strawberries while my cousins and I horsed around away from the eyes of our parents. (Ahhhh, that 90s-era youth…)

This recipe means a lot to me, also because it was one of my first recipes to show up on the feedfeed, namely in their Family Recipes feed. It means a lot when someone appreciates a family recipe that’s good enough to land amongst many other family recipes with their own stories behind them.

I hope you enjoy this recipe for schaum torte, as well as a few old antiquated pictures and a torte that could have been saved – from a photographic point of view – if only I had remembered to add whipped cream to it before photographing it. HA!

Schaum Torte 2020! 😆☁️🍓🎄

From the Original December 24th, 2015 Posting:

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

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!

schaum tortes

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.)

schaum tortes

I’m struck with a bit of nostalgia at this moment.

schaum tortes

Cheers, Mamie. I hope I did you proud with these Schaum Tortes…even if I overcooked the first batch I made. Haaa.

schaum tortes

Schaum Tortes
(Makes 4 medium tortes, perfect for an ample single serving)

Ingredients:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Serving:

  • 1& 1/2 – 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 & 1/2 cups whipped cream

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.

Directions:

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. Add vanilla extract. 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 sliced strawberries and whipped cream.

Pfeffernüsse is a type of cookie I discovered in a mad dash to beat the crowds out of Grand Central Terminal and make it safely onto the 6:02 to Wassaic one pre-Christmas evening, many Decembers ago. I was cruising past one of the many Zaro’s outlets peppered throughout the station, looking for some kind of pastry or cookie package to bring back to Connecticut with me. (As if lugging two bags of Christmas gifts and my luggage wasn’t enough…) A bag of Pfeffernüsse on the cookie shelf looked interesting, better than bringing back some black & white cookies or another loaf of sourdough bread. My gut feeling was correct. My parents loved them, as did I!

Pfeffernüsse

Pfeffernüsse, also known as Pepper Nuts, are a wonderful type of spice cookie. If you are a fan of gingerbread, you’ll love these. Upon first glance, they are rather unassuming. However, the addition of freshly-cracked black pepper, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg will put you into the holiday spirit with just one bite. Some people coat them in powdered sugar after they are baked. Some people don’t. I never plan to be that latter person.

Pfeffernüsse

Also, it’s a wonderful word to say.

Pfeffernüsse

Fey-Fer-NEEEWWWWWWWSE. 

(Sorry, I’m on a bit of a holiday cookie sugar high right now…everything is way too silly…)

Pfeffernüsse

Pfeffernüsse
(Makes 15 – 18 cookies)

Ingredients:

– 2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
– 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
– 1 stick butter, room temperature
– 1 egg
– 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
– 1/4 cup molasses
– 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 1 cup confectioners’ sugar (for dusting cookies)

Before We Get Started…

– Be sure to have a small paper bag or Ziploc bag to place confectioners’ sugar in. It’ll make dusting the cookies infinitely easier.

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two baking sheets and set aside.

2.) In a large bowl, combine flour, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda. Set aside.

3.) Place butter, brown sugar, and molasses in a large bowl. Beat with an electric beater on medium speed until mixture is fluffy, about two to three minutes. Once combined, add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

4.) Slowly add in flour 1/2 cup at a time, beating with electric mixer at low speed. Repeat until all flour is combined and the dough is formed. If mixture is too thick to continue to beat, knead dough together with hands.

5.) Use a tablespoon to scoop out dough and roll into approximately 1″ balls. Place dough balls approximately one inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Depending on the amount of cookies made and size of the baking sheets, no more than one dozen cookies should be on each sheet.

6.) Bake cookies for 15 minutes, rotating sheets seven minutes in. Cookies may crack slightly and should be golden. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.

7.) Coating three to four cookies at a time, place cookies in bag with confectioners’ sugar. Shake until cookies are well coated. Knock off any excess sugar.

8.) Return cookies to wire rack and allow to cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container.

I grew up on homemade soups and stews, save for an occasional can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup in the pantry to serve alongside a grilled cheese sandwich. (Ahhh, childhood…) My father was, hell, still is the King of Refrigerator Soups. You know what I’m talking about: He created soups made by throwing whatever leftovers that were in the fridge into a big pot, and he cooked it until everything harmonized. Sometimes, I found the combinations to be a little weird (leftover chicken, black beans, and cauliflower did not appeal to my nine year old self), but I grew to embrace it. Like any lower-middle class family, we were frugal and used every bit of food we had. Nothing went to waste. A roast chicken carcass was turned into stock, and those little chicken bits made for the base of many amazing soups.

I still love to create a good Refrigerator Soup. I am definitely guilty of buying vegetables with grandiose plans in mind. Then, five days later, I’ll return to my fridge to see them sitting in the vegetable crisper, limp and hanging onto life.

Oops.

vegetable soup

Well, into the soup they go!

I am in love with this Shredded Vegetable Soup. I am a big fan of julienne-peeling and spiral-cutting my vegetables. I feel it gives them more oomph and adds tremendous volume to any dish. I am not the biggest fan of large chunks of vegetables in my soup. In this recipe, I opted to julienne peel the vegetables, giving them an almost noodle-like texture within the broth. Additional grains can be added, such as rice or quinoa, but here, I went simple and added Acini de Pepe. Finally, the turmeric and red pepper flakes both give an amazing depth of flavor.

vegetable soup

We’ve been lucky to have a relatively mild autumn here in NYC, but it’s still nice to eat a nice hot bowl of this soup, even if it’s 60 degrees outside.

Feel free to adjust this soup to any variation you choose! This is a base that can be greatly expanded upon.

vegetable soup

Shredded Vegetable Soup
(Serves Two)

Ingredients:

– 1 carrot, julienne shredded
– 1 medium zucchini, julienne shredded
– 2 cups broth of choice
– 1 cup water
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
– 1/4 cup Acini de Pepe pasta
– Dash of red pepper flakes
– Salt and pepper, to taste

Before We Get Started…

– If you do not have a julienne peeler, either thinly julienne slice vegetables, or, alternately, use a regular vegetable peeler to peel long ribbon-like strips.

Directions:

1.) In large pot, bring broth and water to a slow boil. Add garlic, turmeric, and Acini de Pepe. Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until Acini di Pepe is cooked through.

2.) Reduce heat to medium. Add carrots and zucchini to pot. Cook for approximately 90 seconds or until vegetables start to wilt. Add red pepper flakes and stir. Remove from heat.

3.) Serve immediately.

Autumn is in full swing, with crisper mornings, darker evenings, and the near-daily HELL I face while trying to match the perfect pair of skinny pants with coordinating ankle boots. (The WORST, amirite?) One of my favorite parts of fall? All of my local farmers’ markets are laden with apples! I feel that I am a traditionalist, with my favorite kind of apple being a Macintosh. However, I enjoy walking past barrels and crates overloaded with Mutsus, Jonagolds, Honey Crisps, and Paula Reds. I get damn near overwhelmed at my options, on occasion, and just grab four or five of the best looking ones of any type.

apple sauce

New York City farmers’ markets are full of virtually anything you can think of from the agricultural world. Besides apples, I see veggies, eggs, and meats of all sorts. (One day, I’ll buy that organic duck breast from western Pennsylvania, too!) This past Sunday, however, I had to do a double take after I walked past barrel of something that I can not recall ever seeing at a farmers’ market: cranberries! Beautiful, fresh, Massachusetts-bred cranberries! The heart of this native New Englander fluttered. I had a bag full of apples in my left hand, with full intentions of making some plain ol’ applesauce. Cranberry applesauce is a recipe I enjoy making around Thanksgiving. Still, why not now?! I excitedly shuffled over and ran my hands through these ruby-esque pearls of tart fruit. I looked at the prices…and, at $6 per pound, I quickly carted myself up to my local Fine Fine and bought a pound of Ocean Spray cranberries for $2.29.

cranberries

I strongly support small businesses and the agriculture industry. I just need to cook on the cheap sometimes, just like any other Millennial in NYC with an steep rent and massive student loan payments. Haaa. Next time. Next time…

cranberry apple sauce

Cranberry Apple Sauce is such a wonderful autumnal recipe. It makes a great side dish when eating pork, turkey, or chicken. It makes a great snack to keep in the fridge. Pro Tip: I love to eat it warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Try it. Thank me later.

cranberry apple sauce

Cranberry Apple Sauce (As Featured on Brit + Co.)

(Serves 4)

Ingredients:
– 3 pounds cooking apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2″ chunks
– 1 cup fresh cranberries
– 3 tablespoons sugar
– 1 cup water
– 1 cinnamon stick
– Juice of 1/2 lemon or two teaspoons orange juice

Before We Get Started…

– In lieu of a cinnamon stick, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried cinnamon can be substituted, depending on how much of a prevalent cinnamon flavor you prefer.

– Frozen cranberries can be used in lieu of fresh ones, but I can not emphasize enough: do not use canned cranberry sauce as a substitute!

Directions:

1.) Place all ingredients into a large sauce pan; bring to a boil.

2.) Reduce to a simmer and cook until apples are tender and cranberries have burst, approximately 30 – 40 minutes. Use a fork to mash any larger chunks of fruit still remaining.

3.) Remove from heat; discard cinnamon stick.

4.) Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and store in refrigerator; this will stay fresh for about a week.