This spectacular Meringue Christmas Tree is actually way easier to make than it looks! And it only uses a few simple ingredients!
You will need a pastry bag and tip, some parchment paper and a bit of time because the meringue layers bake low and slow. Also the cream of tartar is essential to help the meringue and the whipped cream hold their shape. It is readily available in the baking section of your supermarket.
I have this little Wilton decorating set – disposable pastry bags (YEAH!) and various size tips. I used a Wilton 2 D tip. Just use the biggest tip you can.
I made the meringues the day before I was serving this. Then I assembled it the morning I was going to serve it.
The key to storing meringues is that they need to be stored in an air tight container. Cook’s Illustrated experimented with storing them in air tight containers on the counter, in the fridge and in the freezer (all different humidity levels) for 2 weeks. As long as the container is air tight it didn’t make any difference to the crispness.
It is a bit tricky to store once it is assembled though so I am thankful for my cold Canadian garage and lots of parchment paper. It doesn’t require any rest time so you may want to assemble it as close to serving time as is feasible for you.
You will need to cut out 4 parchment paper circles. Use the platter you intend to serve on as a guide for your biggest circle. I pulled out a couple of round cake pans and bowls and inverted them on the platter to get an idea for the diminishing dimensions. Make sure your largest circle leaves at least an inch from the edge of your platter. My circles were about 8 1/4″, 7″, 6″ and 4 1/4 “.
Use your inverted cake pans and bowls to trace your circles out on the parchment paper. Get that out of the way first and the rest will be a breeze.
When you are assembling the layers you will want to have a slight edge of the meringue layer bare, then about a 1” of the whipped layer exposed before the next meringue layer goes on. Your raspberries and decoration will need the exposed whipped cream to rest on.
You can get really creative with this! It is still spectacular in its simplest form but you can add liqueur to the whipped cream to add a bit of flavour. You can decorate with sprinkles to imitate a decorated Christmas tree. You can add truffles for accents. You can get creative with the ‘tree topper’ with other edible Christmas decorating shapes.
Because the meringue and the whipped cream filling are basically neutral flavours you can add flavour hits with your decorating accents – berries, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, coconut. (I could go on!)
I am actually thinking Creme de Menthe in the meringue might make a nice minty, green layer and the white whipped cream might look like snow on the branches. I’ll let you know how that works out if I decide to try it!
However – back to the basic version… when you are ready to serve it I found it was easiest to remove the top layer to a separate platter. Transfer it to a serving plate and spoon the berry coulis over it. Remove the next layer to the platter and use a knife to cut it into serving size portions.
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. If frozen allow it to thaw about 20 minutes before serving. Frozen actually makes an awesome dessert too… Check out this Frozen Walnut Torte made with frozen meringue layers as well.