Berries on a Cloud

I have so much to say about this dessert. And so little time. (It’s summer. School’s out. My 5 kids need stuff. From me. My life is not my own.)

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty. I have never made meringue in all my existence. It doesn’t speak to me. Or at least it hasn’t spoken to me in the past. I guess I haven’t understood the appeal of crunchy egg whites. I know. I need to get out more. But when my friend, Ursala, sent me this recipe, it intrigued me. Enough to spend the last month making it 5 times to perfect it. I’m not kidding. I love you guys so much I’m unwilling to give you a less-than-perfect perfect summer dessert. So I made this over and over and over to get it just right. My belly has most definitely had enough meringue to last a lifetime, although, I haven’t heard any official complaints yet which must be a sign that this dessert is good.

I’m a total meringue convert now. At least in applications like this. Although the recipe may seem intimidating, it’s actually a no-brainer if you want a perfect light, creamy summer dessert that can be made ahead of time. In fact it needs to be made ahead of time and happens to be completely dreamy for those occasions when you don’t have time to throw together dessert the day of. I even included step-by-step photos of the meringue-making process to really, really, really convince you that this dessert should be part of your life.

Berries on a Cloud

While the meringue itself (it’s the bottom layer in those pictures, by the way) isn’t anything special on its own, something extremely magical happens when it is topped with the creamy, lighter-than-cheesecake-but-kinda-the-same mixture. Resting in the refrigerator for a couple hours softens the meringue into an ethereal texture not unlike eating a spoonful of puffy white clouds; hence the name. The entire combination of fluffy meringue, luxurious whipped cream cheese cream (I can’t figure out a better way to say that), and easy, homemade cherry/strawberry syrup is absolutely amazing.

It’s quite remarkable that even after this dessert showed up five times over a short time period, there were still oohs and aahs at the table. On one of the occasions, I had Brian take two pans of it to an activity with a bunch of teenagers and reports are that several of the youth who shall remain nameless went back for thirds. It’s elegant enough to serve for a dinner party or for hoity-toity entertaining but simple and delicious enough to make for the fam or for a low-key occasion.

While you ponder how quickly you can feasibly make this, I will ponder why I have the utter inability to be concise (remember how in the first paragraph I declared I needed to make this short and sweet)? My children have now raided the pantry, refrigerator and my secret stash of chocolate chips (how did they get up there without me seeing?). That’s what I get. However, losing my hoard of instant-therapy will be worth it if you make this. Gotta run. Literally.

Berries on a Cloud

One Year Ago: Black Bottom Pudding Pie
Two Years Ago: Caramel Brownies
Three Years Ago: Asian Noodle Salad

Berries on a Cloud Dessert

Yield: Serves 8-ish

Berries on a Cloud Dessert

The meringue part of this dessert may seem intimidating but let me assure you it is seriously easy (see the step-by-step photos below the recipe; keep in mind I halved the recipe for the photos which is why the pan size in the pictures is smaller than a 9X13). The great thing about this dessert is that the meringue can be made 2 days in advance, topped with the cream cheese filling up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated and the berry mixture can be made one day ahead also. It is hands down one of my favorite desserts of the summer!

Ingredients

    Meringue:
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • Topping:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Berry Topping:
  • 16 ounces frozen sweet cherries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and salt until foamy. While beating at high speed, gradually add the sugar one tablespoon or so at a time until it has been incorporated. Continue beating until the whites form stiff peaks. Don't underbeat or the meringue won't set up correctly.
  2. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan. Spread the meringue mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the oven off and let the pan of meringue sit in the oven overnight (or for 10-12 hours).
  3. Around the same time as the meringue, prepare the berry topping (so it has time to cool in the refrigerator). In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries, sugar, water, lemon juice and cornstarch. Over medium-low heat, bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 10-20 minutes until slightly thickened. Pour the mixture into a bowl and let cool at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. Stir in the sliced strawberries. Cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. At least 4-6 hours before serving, remove the meringue from the oven. In a medium bowl, whip the cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Pour in the whipping cream and starting on low speed (so the cream doesn't splatter everywhere), whip the mixture together until it is thick and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Spread the cream cheese topping over the cooled meringue.
  5. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
  6. When ready to serve, cut the dessert into pieces and top with a spoonful of the berry mixture.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/berries-on-a-cloud-best-dessert-of-the-summer/
Recipe Source: sent to me by my friend, Ursala, adapted from Betty Crocker (reduced sugar in both the meringue and the filling, altered the cherry filling to use frozen cherries instead of pie filling, omitted the marshmallows – seriously, too much sweetness – and increased the cream cheese)

Meringue Step-by-Step

72 Responses to Berries on a Cloud {Best Dessert of the Summer!}

  1. sara says:

    This looks amazing – I so need to try it! Definitely looks like the perfect way to celebrate summer fruit. :)

  2. This may be a silly question, but it’s something I always wonder about or guess at, so I’ll just ask. When a recipe (like this one) says to lightly grease the pan, what do you use to grease the pan? Butter, cooking spray, crisco (lard), oil, or does it matter? I assume different things affect the flavor and color, but I’d like to know what you use/recommend.

  3. Kim in MD says:

    I love this post…you are so funny, Mel! This dessert looks like the perfect summer dessert. If a bunch of teenagers go back for thirds it must be amazing, right? I am going to make this a.s.a.p.!

  4. Carmen says:

    My mom used to make this all the time, and I’d forgotten about it – thanks for the reminder. It is a delicious dessert and one that I’ll be making this week for certain – my six kids will love it!

  5. Joan says:

    This is one of my favorites! I make it with the marshmallows – just no powdered sugar – it’s not too sweet that way :) For the topping, I usually just thicken whatever frozen berries I have on hand, or a can of pie filling if you are in a hurry.

  6. Clarissa Meegan says:

    Can you really go wrong with anything that has cream cheese and 2 cups of heavy whipping cream in it?! :) Can’t wait to try this…for Father’s Day perhaps…

  7. Terri says:

    First let me say that I have made many of your recipes and never had a bad one. Yours is the only site I can say this about, and I follow A LOT of cooking blogs. Cant wait to try this one. Next, if cooked meringue is now speaking to you…you should try Nigella Lawson’s, Lemon Meringue Cake. It is fantastic and beautiful. A great spring/summer/Easter/Mothers Day dessert.

  8. Annie says:

    This looks really good! Bonus that I’ve actually got 6 egg whites in my fridge leftover from homemade pastry cream yesterday! Love your site and most of your recipes get rave reviews from my 3 boys and husband :)

  9. Lisa says:

    Ha ha! My kids have found my secret stash of chocolate chips, too! Time to find a new hiding place…. This looks really yummy, Mel.

  10. Kelly says:

    Oh my wow… Pretty sure I have all of the ingredients in my kitchen right now. This will happen soon… probably this weekend when I can take it somewhere to share instead of eating it all myself!

  11. Because I’m pretty much obsessed with everything you make, I totally believe you when say this is the better summer dessert ever! It looks incredibly light, fluffy and delicious, Mel!

  12. My little boy Tomasz (my partner to be honest) will love it. He is like a little boy and he will love this berries on a cloud.

  13. Barb says:

    This is new twist on a Pavlova recipe which has long been a favourite of mine.

  14. I make a lot of ice cream and always have egg whites, and I´m always needing new recipes (macarons are not my thing). I´m so making this one Mel! Cheesecake is one of my weaknesses. Love it, and the cherries kind of sold me too.

  15. Susan Sunde says:

    The recipe calls for a 9 x 13 pan; however, your pictures show a 9 x 9 square pan. So is it OK to use either one? I would think the 9 x 9 would be better, i.e., a taller “cloud”.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Susan – you’ll notice in the note above the recipe ingredients that I indicated I had halved the recipe for the step-by-step photos. You definitely don’t want to put a full recipe of meringue into a 9X9-inch pan or you’ll have an overflowing mess!

  16. I’m declaring this the best dessert of the summer just based on how AMAZING it looks. Also, I think the fact that I have got 6 egg whites in my fridge right now means it’s meant to be. Making this in 0.454 seconds.

  17. Tahnycooks says:

    This look absolutely fabulous! I’m gonna have to make this one, for real!!!!!!

  18. Rita says:

    This looks wonderful. I recently went gluten free and this is a dessert I can have! Thanks.

  19. Ursala says:

    YAAAAY! I’m so glad you took the time to try and tweak this! So, now when I try to make itit I know i can count on your descriptive pictures and instructions to lead the way! YUM!

  20. Barbara says:

    Hi, Mel,

    I enjoy your blog and recipes….like hearing about your kiddos, too!

    We’ve been making Berries on a Cloud since the late ’70′s and every time we make it, it’s a hit with whoever we share it with! The only difference in our recipe from yours is that we just use a can of cherry pie filling and fresh strawberries on the top. I have been known to throw some raspberries in there occasionally, too. It is a really lovely Valentine’s Day dessert. Or a Monday night dessert, or Tuesday night , or Wednesday….

  21. Mary says:

    Yum! I’m so glad you discovered meringue! One of my favorite summer desserts is very similar to this one… it’s my homemade Pavlova served with fresh berries and sweet cream. This looks like a fun one too! Can’t wait to see you guys this summer!

  22. Kim L says:

    I may not be brave enough yet to attempt the meringue portion of this recipe, but I’m for sure going to try that fruit topping on some standard cheesecake! Thanks for the step by step photos – so helpful!

  23. grace says:

    i usually spit on meringue, but this seems to be a special case. delightful dessert, mel!

  24. Sarah Moran says:

    My mom made this every year for my brother’s birthday growing up – we called it Cherry Berries on a Cloud. Thanks for the recipe and the trip down memory lane!

  25. Amanda says:

    I love meringue, but despise cream cheese. Why must everything that looks and sounds so yummy have cream cheese! I might try this with just a sweetened whipped cream topping… I love all your recipes – I even make the cream cheese ones when I am cooking for other people!

  26. Natalie says:

    I have my meringue sitting in my oven as I type this I’m slightly concerned as it got so super puffy while it was baking. It pretty much fills the entire 9×13. Does it flatten a bit when it cools? So concerned that I somehow messed this up on step one of a simple seeming 3 step process. Gah!!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Natalie – don’t stress! Sounds like you made it just fine. Yes, it will get very puffy in the oven. The many times I’ve made this, it falls a little after sitting and drying out but you want that meringue layer to be pretty thick. Just make sure it has adequate drying time (the overnight rest in the oven) so the meringue doesn’t get sticky and fall flat.

  27. Barbara says:

    Thanks for the info on the puffing meringue. It’s in the oven now and completely fills the pan. Now here’s hoping I didn’t blow the whole thing be forgetting to grease the pan. Oops.

  28. Nicole says:

    Oh. My. Yum. I am totally craving this now! Looks Amazing :)

  29. Cathy says:

    Yep, made it…and it was a hit.. It is VERY light and lucious for the hot summer time :)

  30. Kelly says:

    Okay, so I followed through and made this. It was pretty darn easy to fix up, actually, especially with my handy Kitchenaid doing all the mixing and whipping. Oh, and my inlaws INHALED it! Delicious! Will be making this again for sure!

  31. Chris says:

    Do you really want to leave it in the oven for 8-12 hours? Wouldn’t that just grow harmful bacteria? If left in the food danger zone, which is 41 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, for more than 4 hours you will be left with food that can make you sick. This sounds like a great recipe and all and would be willing to make it but I would highly advise leaving this out in the oven overnight.

    • Mel says:

      Chris – any meringue recipe needs to be left out to dry appropriately, otherwise it becomes too sticky and doesn’t turn into true meringue. You’ll have to use your best judgment – don’t make it if you are worried about the food safety issues, but from experience making it lots of times, it hasn’t been an issue for us.

  32. Babs says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I made this dessert for a family gathering and it was a hit! My husband, who is a dessert aficionado said “it is one of the top 5″ that I have made and “can I make again soon?” Thanks

  33. Anne says:

    Can the meringue crust be left on the counter, or only in the oven? I am making a double batch and not sure my bosch can handle that much meringue-ing at once. If I make one batch while the other cooks, one will have to hang out on the counter while the second batch cooks. Maybe I should just do all the meringue at once and hope it whips properly…

    • Mel says:

      Hi Anne – I’ve heard you can leave the meringue on the counter, too, but I haven’t tried it (definitely don’t want to do that if you are having humid, wet weather or the meringue won’t set up).

  34. Noel Lindes says:

    I was hesitant about making this recipe, because I haven’t been a fan of store bought or restaurant meringue in the past. But now I understand that fresh, home made meringue is delicious! This dessert is ridiculously tasty. New favorite.

  35. Deb says:

    Made this tonight and it disappeared in a flash. Our friend said this was the kind of dessert that you make two pans of – one to share and one for yourself :) Truly amazing and now that I know what clouds taste, I want to eat them all the time.

  36. Cearrow sillman says:

    This did not turn out well and I’m not sure what I did wrong. I emailed you about it if you’d rather respond to that it would be easier for me. The bottom layer was gooey and sticky and I couldn’t get the stiff peaks to form while mixing it. The top layer was too airy it seemed like cool whip is it suppise to be so light? I went into more detail in my email though. Thanks for your help!

    • Mel says:

      Cearrow – it sounds like a few things might have gone wrong. First, the egg whites really need to be beat to stiff peaks. I’m not familiar with wand blenders but I’m wondering if it is powerful enough to get the job done. Without being beaten to stiff peaks, the meringue will get the sticky texture that you don’t want. Another reason it could have the gummy texture is if it isn’t baked long enough – you may need to bake it slightly longer (each oven can vary in temperature) and make sure it dries completely. Another component is that meringue does not do well in humid weather. If it is humid and/or rainy weather, the meringue can fall like you described which means it won’t be light and fluffy.

  37. Teresa says:

    Hi Mel, I would really love to make this for the 4th of July (and add fresh blueberries to the topping!!!), but it is supposed to be humid and some rain all week. I know you said this is not advisable, but I do have central A/C. Do you think I could chance it or should I make another dessert. I would hate to waste ingredients on something that won’t come out, but it looks so good.

    • Mel says:

      Hi Teresa – if your A/C really cuts the humidity that should work but I am very careful to only make meringue on non-rainy days because I get too nervous. I don’t want to tell you to go for it and have it not work out but I’m pretty sure if your kitchen itself is dry and cool, it should work. Good luck!

  38. Teresa says:

    I made this dessert for the 4th and it was so crazy delicious. Despite the heat and humidity here in CT, I tried the meringue. Because I had the central A/C (I think), it worked out perfectly. This was my first attempt at meringue and it was so amazing. Very light and with that cream cheese layer, heaven. I cannot believe how easy that fruit topping was. It was a huge hit even with all of the kids at the party. I really appreciate how much you test recipes and modify them before you publish them, because they are, well, perfect. Thanks for a great summer winner.

  39. Eileen says:

    I don’t hve a 9×13 pan. could i just use a 11×15 or maybe even muffin tins?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Eileen – I’ve only ever used a 9X13 or halved the recipe for a 9X9 – so you’ll have to experiment with your different pan sizes. Good luck!

  40. Kaitlyn says:

    I made this for a family party earlier this summer and it was a hit!! I have another family party coming up this week and it’s been requested that I make this again! Everything I have made from your blog has been a hit with me and my husband! Thank you for sharing your recipes with us!

  41. Mark says:

    Mel,
    I have made this twice and the first turned out really well, while the second one did not. It had a lot of carmelized sugar around the edges. The middle always falls in on me while it has high edges. I have to cut the edges down to make it flat enough. Everyone that had the first one raved so much about it that I made it a second time. I did have full stiff peaks, left it in the oven for a full 12 hours, and I live in Colorado where it is not that humid. Any help would be appreciated because this recipe is fantastic, and I would like to be able to repeat my first attempt every time. Will too much spray on the pan cause that?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Mark – I’m not sure if too much spray on the pan would do that but it sounds like a good thing to test out. Next time, try a very light coating and see if that helps. Otherwise, it’s really hard for me to know what went wrong, especially if all the other components were textbook correct (stiff peaks, timing, etc.). Even a rainy day with low humidity can cause terror with meringue so keep that in mind too.

  42. Eileen S Quinn says:

    I used a 11×15 and it turned out great! the only problem was how fast it went, and a plus about using a 11×15 was that everyone thought there was more, and it was delicious! my daughter made it and keeps asking for it.

  43. Megy says:

    Hi Mel,

    This is the first time I am going to try any of your recipes. This one looks very good.
    My concern is that my oven starts at 305F, but this one should be baked at 275F. How do I do this?

    Also, if I use a different pan size, how long would I have to cook this?

    Thank you. Am already s excited to try this! :)

  44. mmmmm! this looks very luscious!

  45. Trish says:

    I’ve made this dessert twice and everyone loved it! I took it to a staff potluck and the room was silent as everyone was eating it, and I had 3 men ask for the recipe. Absolutely delicious!

  46. l.b. says:

    Mel-have you ever tried doubling this in a half sheet pan? I want to make enough for a large crowd, but am a little nervous putting it all into a half sheet pan and have the merangue puff out of the pan…

    • Mel says:

      l.b. – I haven’t tried this myself so you will have to experiment. My gut feeling is the sides of the rimmed baking sheet (11X17) may not be high enough. If it were me, I’d try to make it in two 9X13-inch pans. Good luck!

  47. Ashley B. says:

    Hi Mel!
    I’d love to make this for an Easter Sunday dessert, but we’re traveling and I would rather not bake the meringue at the house where we’re staying. I could bake the meringue Friday morning, but how can I travel with it? Is there a good way to store it before topping it with the cream cheese mixture and berries Sunday morning?
    Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Ashley – It should stay good if covered and stored at room temperature for a day or so – a dry climate would be best. Humid climates will make the meringue kind of chewy and soft.

  48. l.b. says:

    So I didn’t read the response in time and made it in a half sheet (11×17). The sides of the marangue puffed up and pouring the toping was not a problem. However! !! Because the recipe was doubled, there was more marangue than would have fit into 2 (9×13) dishes, so I should have either cooked it longer or maybe did a 1.5x instead of doubling the recipe or just followed Mel’s instructions. In the end it tasted fine, but since I never tried the original I couldn’t compare it with anything. So it was probably a little too soft

  49. Emily says:

    I have made this dessert a couple times now, and it is so ridiculously good, I know it will be the only dessert I make this summer. Thanks for making the meringue so not scary. It comes out perfect every time.

  50. Bernadette says:

    I can’t wait to try this, Mel. But seeing as I live in Australia, I have access to Pavlova meringues which are already made… :) Makes life a lot easier for me!!

  51. Sherry says:

    I love to make Nigella’s Pavlova (my grandson loves it), but it seems kind of tedious to draw on parchment paper, then plop the meringue on the paper and bake and so on.
    Do you think I could just bake the meringue portion of this recipe in a baking pan and then later, throw some fresh fruit on it and whipping cream – it seems like it would be easier to put together and store, etc. What do you all think?

  52. Jane says:

    I made the meringue last night and it looked good. This morning when I looked at it in the oven, it is like a big air bubble has formed during baking and now the bottom and top are now separated–almost like I could lift part of the top off (does this make sense?). I am hoping it will still work as I figured it would compact a little once I put the cream cheese topping on it. Do you thing I would be all right to continue with the dessert process or do I need to attempt the meringue again?

  53. Julia says:

    Mel, I made this for Father’s Day yesterday, and while it was a huge hit and definitely declared the best out of the three desserts we had, it didn’t look so pretty. I followed everything step by step. The meringue got really puffy in the oven to where it was puffed up higher than the walls of my pan. So then when I put the cream layer on top, it was kind of wanting to slide off. Then when I put it back into the fridge, after about 4 hours, the meringue had broken and the whole thing sunk. Do you know what I did wrong? It definitely tasted good, but I wish it would have looked better!

    • Mel says:

      Julia – I am not sure what went wrong – usually the center of the meringue will fall while the sides stay high. It sounds like it might have baked a few minutes too long. I am glad it tasted good though!

  54. Lynda says:

    This looks absolutely mouthwatering delicious! I have never made meringue before but I love an adventure and so its a go! I am curious, however, have you ever changed up your berries……say strawberries and blackberries? Or are the cherries just, well, the cherry on top? Thank you for posting, can’t wait to taste this!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Lynda – the fruit topping for this is very easily adaptable! You could definitely use strawberries and blackberries; I think it would be delicious.

  55. Anna says:

    Whoa this was ridiculously good! I’ve never made meringue before so I was a little nervous when the sides puffed up much higher than the center but it was easy to slice :D Instead of frozen cherries I used a bunch of different frozen berries since thats all I had in the freezer.
    I made it for my parents and grandparents and we devoured almost all of it! They all said that it was one of the best desserts they’ve ever eaten :D
    I put the letover slices back into fridge because it was a little too much for only 5 people and I really hope it’ll still be ok tomorrow
    I’ll defintely make this desser again!

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