This elaborate looking torte is a great make-ahead dish for entertaining. Everything about this wheat-free dessert will surprise and delight, from the
light almond torte base to the glorious not too sweet flavor that might make you think you are eating the work of a European pastry chef. This is a great option to serve anyone on wheat-free diet.
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/8 tsp creme of tartar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup finely ground almonds
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 1/3 to 4 pints ripe strawberries
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup strained apricot or strawberry preserves
2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachio nuts
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and flour the bottom of an 8X3 inch springform pan.
2. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/2 cup of the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.
3. Using a spatula, fold in the almonds, butter and almond extract. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes or until browned. Let the torte cool in the pan on the rack, about 30 minutes.
4. Run a knife around the side of the torte and remove the sides of the springform pan. Run a spatula underneath the torte to free it from the pan. Wash and dry the springform pan and reassemble it. Replace the torte in the pan.
5. Chose about 10 berries of equal height. Cut them in half vertically and arrange them, pointed ends up, with the cut sides against the sides of the pan. Leave the remaining berries whole and arrange them, pointed ends up, over the torte. The berry tops should reach at least 1/8 inch below the pan rim; trim from the stem ends if necessary.)
6. In a medium bowl, whip the cream until it begins to thicken. Gradually beat in the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
7. In a medium bowl, beat the creme fraiche until stiff peaks form. Fold in the sweetened whipped cream.
8. Spread the cream over the berries, filling in all the gaps and making sure that the cream touches the sides of the pan between the cut berries. Smooth the top even with the rim of the pan. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.
9. Wrap the pan briefly in a hot wet kitchen towel and carefully remove the sides of the pan.
10. In a small saucepan, warm the preserves over low heat, stirring until melted. (If necessary, thin the glaze with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.)
11. Brush the sides of the torte with the glaze. Press the chopped pistachios against the lower rim of the torte. Refrigerate until ready to serve.