A heavenly low-fat dessert of fresh strawberries on a cloud of meringue paired with strawberry ice cream or sorbet.
2 cups egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
2 1⁄2 lb. plus 2 tbsp. ultra-fine baker’s sugar
4 vanilla beans
1⁄4 cup aged balsamic vinegar
3⁄4 tsp. salt
3⁄4 tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1⁄2 cups olive or pistachio oil
3 qt. strawberry ice cream or sorbet
4 1⁄2 lb. California strawberries, stemmed and sliced
6 oz. shelled pistachio nuts
1. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium-high speed until very stiff peaks form.
2. With mixer at high speed, gradually add sugar, beating constantly. Meringue should be stiff and billowy. Slit vanilla beans, scrape out seeds, and beat seeds into meringue.
3. Spoon 24 (1⁄2-cup) meringue mounds, each about 4-in. in diameter, onto parchment-lined sheet pan, making a shallow depression in each using the back of a spoon.
4. Bake at 275ºF for 1 1⁄2 hr., or until ivory colored and dry. Cool on a rack.
5. For vinaigrette: Whisk vinegar with sugar, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Whisk in oil. Makes 1 3⁄4 cups.
6. For each serving, place one meringue on plate. Scoop 1⁄2 cup ice cream or sorbet into depression and cover with 1⁄2 cup strawberries. Drizzle 1 tbsp. vinaigrette over strawberries. Scatter 1 tbsp. pistachios over and around meringue.