Alternatively titled “a gluten-free dessert recipe made with normal ingredients” – HA!
Seriously though, a couple months ago I randomly stumbled upon a new Google search tool that helps marketers figure out what people are searching for (and like the true bizness pro I am, I totally forgot to you know, SAVE THE URL!! Oh well, not really my style.) Anyway, after digging around a bit I learned “gluten-free desserts made with normal ingredients” was one of the top searched phrases when it comes to living a gluten-free lifestyle.
Totally relate! When it comes to gluten-free desserts, I’m not up for mixing and weighing flours and starches, nor spending an arm and a leg on them. If I can’t make a dessert with a GF all-purpose flour blend, or with store bought ingredients, then it’s usually a no. I’ll grab a gummy worm, thank you very much.
Well, no mixing, weighing, or heck, any flour required in this irresistable, make-ahead gluten-free dessert recipe that just screams, SPRING! Berries in a Cloud is as simple to make as it is fun look at (and eat, of course!)
Even if it doesn’t feel like spring where you live yet, I feel like we can practically will some warm weather into existence with this gorgeous dessert featuring crispy meringue cups filled with homemade lemon curd and fresh berries. The colors are a sight for sore eyes and, oh my gosh, they are just so good.
Best of all? The entire recipe – we’re talking both the meringue and lemon curd elements – are made with just 5 everyday ingredients. Six if you include salt but let just not, mmkay? It’s salt! Eggs, sugar, lemons, vanilla, and a few pats of butter (or vegan butter) are all that separate you from this easy yet elegant dessert that’s perfect for all your upcoming spring and summer occasions. Baby/bridal showers, patio dinners, birthday parties and more.
The Berries in a Cloud base – the “cloud”, if you will – is a meringue cup which is simply egg whites whipped with sugar, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until fluffy like a cloud. Dollop on a baking sheet then bake low and slow for a couple hours and you’ll have meringue that’s crispy on the outside and cotton candy-esque on the inside. If you’ve never made meringue before, I promise you’ll fall in love with not only the process but taste that comes from mixing together just 4 everyday ingredients. Incredible!
The meringue clouds are filled with tart, homemade lemon curd then topped with fresh berries, hence the name – Berries in a Cloud. I’ve been making The Food Charlatan’s Best Lemon Curd Recipe for the past year or so and it never ceases to amaze me just how yummy and fresh-tasting it is.
Now, I must tell you that Berries in a Cloud is not my creation. A good friend’s Mom (hi Becky!) used to make us girls this dessert for special occasions in high school, though she’d make a giant meringue instead of small cups and fill the center with whippy chocolate mousse before adding fresh berries. I KNOW. I needed to see something that resembled sunshine right now though, which is why I went the lemon curd route, but please know that chocolate mousse or pudding is just as delicious dolloped inside.
Ready to do this?
Step 1: Make the Lemon Curd
Start by making the homemade Lemon Curd. Add 3/4 cup each sugar and fresh lemon juice (from 3-4 large lemons) plus a pinch of salt to a small saucepan over heat that’s a touch below medium. Stir gently until the sugar has dissolved, 2-3 minutes.
Slowly drizzle one ladleful of the hot lemon juice/sugar mixture into a bowl of 3 whole large eggs plus 4 large egg yolks that have been whisked together. Whisk vigorously while adding the hot liquid to avoid scrambling the eggs.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan while whisking vigorously then continue to cook and whisk until the lemon curd is thick like pudding, 3-4 minutes. Pour into a fine mesh sieve set over a medium-sized bowl then use a spatula to gently scrape it through, leaving any bits of cooked egg in the sieve.
Last step is to stir in 4 Tablespoons butter cut into cubes (or vegan butter, which is what I used so Lincoln could eat this dessert) then voila – you’ve got lemon curd! Tart, tangy, fresh and seriously irresistable.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the lemon curd then refrigerate until completely chilled. You can make this several days ahead of time.
Step 2: Make the Meringue
Next stop – meringue, aka The Cloud. Add 2 large egg whites to a large glass bowl if you’re using a handheld mixer, or to the bowl of an electric mixer, then let them come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment then whip on medium-high speed until the egg whites are foamy, about 30 seconds. Add a pinch of salt then continue whipping until soft peaks form – that is, the egg whites fall right back over themselves after pulling up with the whisk – another 30 seconds.
With the speed still set to medium-high, add 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, whipping for 30-45 seconds before adding the next Tablespoon. The goal here is to let the sugar dissolve completely before adding another Tablespoon. After all the sugar has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl then continue whipping until the meringue is glossy and completely smooth. Test this by rubbing a dollop of meringue between your fingertips. If you can still feel sugar granules, keep whipping.
Note: meringue recipes typically call for superfine sugar versus regular granulated sugar, so use superfine if you’ve got it. That said, I still got a smooth meringue by whipping it for a few extra minutes.
Last step is to whip in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. I’m telling you – this meringue is like sweet, fluffy clouds that I could eat by the spoonful. AMAZING!
Using 2 spoons, scoop the meringue onto a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan to form 8 mounds (pro tip: place a dollop of meringue between the sheet pan and parchment paper in the corners so it stays in place) then use the back of the spoon to create a divot in the centers. The meringues will puff slightly during baking so leave at least an inch between them.
Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours at 200 degrees, rotating the pan halfway through, or until the meringues are dry on the outside and pull away from the parchment paper without sticking. The meringues should NOT be golden brown – mine were just baaarely a super light champagne color. Turn the oven OFF then prop the door open slightly and let the meringues cool inside for 1-2 hours before storing in an airtight container at room temperature. You can make these 1-2 days ahead of time.
The result? A crispy exterior with a chewy, cotton candy interior. You will be amazed and so proud of yourself for pulling these meringues off!
When you’re ready to serve, plate the meringue cups then fill with chilled lemon curd and fresh berries – blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries really pop against the bright yellow curd. I hope you LOVE this easy yet elegant spring dessert recipe (made with normal ingredients)! ;) Enjoy!
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Berries in a Cloud
Berries in a Cloud is a heavenly tasting gluten free dessert recipe! Make ahead and assembled in minutes, this sweet treat will impress.
- Fresh berries, for serving
- For the Lemon Curd:
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (3-4 large lemons)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 whole large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 4 Tablespoons butter or vegan butter, cut into cubes
- For the Meringue:
- 2 large egg whites
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- For the Lemon Curd: Add lemon juice, sugar, and salt to a small saucepan then set aside. Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium-sized bowl then set aside. In another small/medium-sized bowl, whisk together eggs and egg yolks until very smooth then set aside.
- Turn the heat under lemon juice mixture to a touch below medium then gently stir until the sugar has dissolved, 2-3 minutes. Very slowly stream a ladleful of the hot lemon juice mixture into the bowl of eggs while whisking vigorously, then stream that mixture slowly back into the saucepan while whisking vigorously. Continue to whisk vigorously until the lemon curd is very thick, 3-4 minutes, turning the heat down slightly if it begins to bubble.
- Pour the lemon curd through the fine mesh sieve then use a spatula to gently press the curd through, leaving any small pieces of cooked egg in the sieve. Add half the butter then stir until smooth before adding the remaining butter and stirring until smooth. Cover the lemon curd with a piece of plastic wrap placed directly on top of the curd then refrigerate until completely chilled.
- For the Meringue: Preheat oven to 200 degrees then line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Add egg whites to a large glass bowl if using a hand-held mixer, or the bowl of an electric mixer, then let come to room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment then whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy, 30 seconds. Add salt then continue whipping until soft peaks form (i.e. the eggs immediately fall over pulling up on them) another 30 seconds.
- Turn mixer back to medium-high speed then add 1 Tablespoon sugar at a time, whipping for 30-45 seconds before adding the next Tablespoon - don’t rush it! Once all the sugar has been added, scrape down the sides of the bowl then continue whipping until stiff, shiny peaks form and the meringue is smooth when you rub a dollop between your fingertips. If you can still feel a bit of grittiness from the sugar, continue whipping until the meringue is smooth. Add vanilla then whip to combine.
- Using two spoons, scoop the meringue into 8 mounds on the prepared baking sheet then use the back of the spoon to make an indentation in the center. Meringues will puff slightly so leave at least 1” between mounds. Bake for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, rotating the pan halfway through, or until the meringues are completely dry on the outside and pull back from the parchment paper without sticking. Turn the oven OFF then crack the oven door open and let the meringues sit and cool inside for a couple hours. If making a day ahead of time, cover tightly then store at room temperature.
- To serve: Fill the meringue cups with lemon curd then top with fresh berries and serve.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.