PINEAPPLE MERINGUE TORTE
from Jan Laus of Portland, OR
1 C blanched almonds
6 large egg whites
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 ½ C powdered sugar
½ tsp. almond extract
2 C crushed pineapple with its juice
½ C water
¼ C fresh lime juice
grated zest of 2 limes
4 T cornstarch
3 egg yolks
Garnish: additional powdered sugar
Toast the almonds in a 300 degree oven 10-15 minutes just until they begin to turn golden. Do not let them brown. After they cool, grind them in a food processor.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment, and draw a 10 inch circle on each sheet.
Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks, then add the powdered sugar and almond extract, and beat until they hold stiff peaks. Fold in the ground almonds.
Spread the beaten egg whites evenly within the 2 circles and smooth the tops with a wide knife. Bake the meringues at 300 degrees for 45 minutes, then lower the heat to 250 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes. The meringues should be dry and pale ivory in color.
Slide the meringues, still on their parchment, carefully onto cooling racks to cool completely.
While the meringues bake, make the filling. Combine the pineapple and it's juice, the water, lime juice, lime zest, and cornstarch in a med. sized non-reactive pot and stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat a little, and stir as it boils for 8-10 minutes, or until it is translucent and thickens.
Remove the filling from the heat and let cool for a moment. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, and return it to very low heat and whisk for 5 minutes. Do not let it boil. When it thickens again, remove from heat, transfer to covered bowl and allow to cool completely.
To assemble, turn the meringues over and gently peel off the parchment. Work carefully as they are very fragile. They will become softer and chewy later.
Place one layer upside down on a platter, stir up the cooled pineapple filling and spread it evenly over the meringue right out to the edge. Place second meringue right side up on top of the pineapple filling, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for several hours.
Before serving, sift powdered sugar over top of the torte. The torte can be served like that or can be decorated with fresh berries or twists of lime.