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      RECIPE TITLE "Meringue Cake with Whipped Cream and Summer Berries"
    recipe from Harvest, Celebrating the Bounty of the Seasons
    courtesy of

    yieldsServes 8 time---difficultymoderate


    For the meringue layers:
    Butter and confectioners' sugar, for preparing the pans
    8 large egg whites, at room temperature
    1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
    2 cups superfine sugar
    2 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
    2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    For the filling:
    2 cups heavy (whipping) cream, chilled
    1/3 cup granulated confectioners' sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    About 3 cups mixed berries (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, gooseberries, or any combination)
    About 1 cup grated coconut, toasted on a baking sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes (optional)


    To make the layers: Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a tiny bit of butter to attach the bottom of the paper to the baking sheets. Butter the paper lightly and dust with confectioners' sugar. Trace the outline of a 9-inch pie plate, creating a 9-inch circle, on each sheet of parchment. Set aside.

    In the bowl of a standing mixer, use a whisk attachment to beat the egg whites on low speed until frothy. Increase the speed to medium and add the cream of tartar. Slowly add the superfine sugar and beat until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Add the sifted cornstarch and then the lemon juice and vanilla and beat until incorporated.

    Using a spoon or a rubber spatula, carefully spread the meringue mixture over the marked circles. You don't need to be overly precise. The idea is this: You want one circle to act as the base of the cake, so use your rubber spatula to smooth out the meringue into the circle to create a flat, even base. The second circle of meringue should have a slight rim and a depressed center (which will later be filled with the whipped cream and fruit). It will act as the top, show-off layer of cake. Use the rubber spatula to create an indentation in the center, pushing the meringue mixture out away from the center toward the sides. Bake both layers for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the meringues feel crisp on the outside. Let cool on the baking sheet, and very carefully remove with a large rubber spatula. (The meringue can be made 1 day ahead of time and stored in a dry spot or tin; it can also be frozen for up to 1 month.)

    To make the filling: Just before you are ready to serve the cake, with an electric mixer, whip the cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and whip until barely stiff peaks form.

    Place the flat layer of the meringue on a large serving plate. Add less than half of the whipped cream and, using a rubber spatula, spread the cream over the meringue, making sure not to spread it too close to the edges. Scatter 1 1/2 cups of the berries on top, pressing them slightly into the cream. Carefully place the top layer of the meringue over the cream and fruit with depressed center facing up. Fill the center of the meringue with the remaining whipped cream and arrange the remaining berries on top, scattering the different types of berries to create a colorful fruit topping. Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top of the fruit, if using. (The cake should not be assembled with the cream and fruit more than 20 minutes before serving, or it will soften. Refrigerate if not serving immediately.) Use a large (fairly sharp) cake knife to cut the cake.

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