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Virtually unknown outside of Wisconsin, Schaum Torte is the German equivalent of Pavlova. It’s perfect topped with fresh fruit, whipped cream, or ice cream!
Schaum Torte is a German meringue dessert widely known to Milwaukee residents of German descent.
Many of our grandparents, including my maternal grandma, made Schaum Torte topped with fruit and ice cream for special occasions, and the dessert is also popular at a local German restaurant.
Whether you make a full-size Schaum Torte or the miniature “cookies” version I show here, Schaum Torte is a sweet dessert worth trying!
Schaum Torte History
A specialty from Wisconsin, and Milwaukee in particular, Schaum Torte was created by German immigrants and shared with their descendants.
Schaum Tortes are popular for Memorial Day celebrations when strawberries are in season. My grandma in particular loved to make Schaum Torte for bridal showers because they are such a pretty dessert. It’s also popular at Christmas.
Schaum Torte vs. Pavlova
Pavlova, named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, is a meringue-based dessert (probably?) created in New Zealand in 1927. While these desserts look nearly identical, Pavlova contains corn starch and Schaum Torte does not.
How to Make a Schaum Torte
While our grandmothers whipped egg whites by hand (“beat the heck out of ’em”), we can use modern technology to our advantage.
In a standing mixer, or with an electric hand mixer, start with a combination of egg whites, water, and salt and beat until stiff. Slowly add part of the sugar, cream of tartar, and vinegar.
Finally, add the remaining sugar and vanilla. At this point you can either dollop spoonfuls of meringue onto parchment or pipe circles with a piping bag.
Finally, bake in the oven for 1 hour. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven for 30 minutes longer.
Top with fresh or frozen fruit (thawed), especially berries, and drizzle any extra juice over the top.
How to Make a Full-Size Schaum Torte
If you’d like to make a full-size Schaum Torte instead of the miniature version, simply transfer the meringue to a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Follow the baking instructions, leaving the baked shell in the oven with the heat off for 1 hour instead of 30 minutes.
To make individual Schaum Tortes:
- Preheat oven to 250˚F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. With a Sharpie type permanent pen, trace 6 -3" circles on each sheet of parchment paper, and flip over in pan (marker side down).
- With an electric mixer on medium-high, beat the egg whites, water and salt till the mixture begins to stiffen and forms a point when beater is pulled out. Continue beating and add, very slowly (over 2-3 minutes), 1 cup sugar, cream of tartar and vinegar.
- Add the other 1 ¼ cups of sugar, again very slowly, and vanilla. Beat for 10 minutes on medium speed.
- Drop large spoonfuls of meringue onto the circles on prepared sheet pans and hollow out the centers with a teaspoon or follow directions in step 5 for piping.
- For piping, snip off a corner of a large zippered plastic bag or decorating bag. Place a large (I use a Wilton 1M) decorating tip into the corner opening. Spoon about ½ of meringue into the bag and twist the top closed. Starting in the center of each circle and moving in a circular pattern fill in each circle with meringue. Continue piping around outside edges, forming walls. I usually go around 2 or 3 more times, depending on how tall I want my Schaum Tortes. Use your finger to smooth out the top where the piping stops.
- Place in preheated oven and bake 1 hour, then turn heat off and leave Schaum Tortes in oven for another 30 minutes. Remove and store in an airtight container, or serve with fresh berries or ice cream.
To make one full-size Schaum Torte:
- Follow the first 4 steps as written. Then, transfer the meringue to a 9-inch buttered spring form pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, turn off heat, and leave shell in the oven for 1 hour more (instead of 30 minutes).
Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.