When Jim asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day dinner I tried to keep the menu as easy as possible since his culinary skills are limited to breakfast and what he can throw on the grill. I told him I would be in charge of dessert. I had been planning for weeks to make my ALL TIME favorite dessert – Boccone Dolce or “Sweet Mouthful” in Italian.
A local restaurant, Papa Haydens, that is famous for their desserts, serves this amazing dessert. I order it EVERY time I go there despite the dozens of choices on the menu. Not wanting to wait until we went to the restaurant to enjoy Boccone Dolce I googled the recipe and found this great version.
Boccone Dolce is a combination of melt in your mouth meringue, strawberries, whip cream and chocolate – YUM! Don’t let the picture of the dessert or the mention of meringue scare you away. It is actually very easy to make!
The first step is making the meringue layer. This meringue is not like the soft meringue that is on lemon meringue pie – this meringue is crisp and dry and melts in your mouth when you bite into it! Be sure and use egg whites at room temperature and a clean bowl in order to get your egg whites to whip properly. Also make sure none of the egg yolk gets in with the whites.
You can use any berries that are in season – strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries (remember I live in berry heaven!) and if no berries are in season you can also use bananas. (except if you are me and you have texture issues and don’t eat bananas!) For Mother’s Day I used a combination of strawberries and raspberries.
Here are my meringue shells -
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup superfine sugar (I was out of superfine and used regular)
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. In mixer, beat egg whites, salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until meringue is stiff and glossy.
Line baking sheets with parchment or waxed paper. Trace three, eight inch circles on paper (I used a plate)
With a rubber spatula, spread meringue evenly and equally over top of the circles. bake approximately 2 hours or until meringue becomes bisque colored. NOTE: The low temperature will prevent them from browning too quickly. Then turn off oven, open oven door and let meringues “rest” in oven another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully peel off parchment or waxed paper. Put cake on racks to dry until thoroughly cool.
Once cooled, meringues may be wrapped in saran and frozen or just store in an airtight container if using within the next 24 hours. NOTE: I wrap each meringue in several saran layers, then stack (gently!) in a large plastic container for freezing. Remove from freezer at least an hour before assembling.
Next comes the fun part – assembling it!
6 ounces of semisweet chocolate pieces
3 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 pints berries, sliced
Chocolate curls (for garnish) I just shaved some chocolate over the top
Melt chocolate pieces over hot water. When perfectly smooth, remove from heat and cool (but don’t let it harden)
In a large bowl, whip the cream until stiff; gradually add powdered sugar and then vanilla extract.
To assemble, place a meringue layer on a serving plate, rounded side down. Spread a very thin coating of chocolate over it. NOTE: Go easy on chocolate, too much will make it impossible to cut cake! I used a pastry brush to spread the chocolate.
Top chocolate with a layer (about 3/4 inch thick) of whipped cream. Top cream with a layer of sliced berries. Place a second layer of meringue on top of this, and repeat filling. Top with final meringue, rounded side up, and frost sides and top smoothly with remaining whipped cream.
Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with several whole strawberries and chocolate curls.
This dessert is not the easiest to cut – I find using a serrated bread knife works well and use a sawing like motion. It definitely looks prettier before you cut it – I can’t seem to cut it as neat and tighty as the restaurant does