Strawberry meringues

Serves 4

This can be done with just strawberries or a with a mixture of seasonal soft fruits, if you prefer a little more variety.

An important note on making meringue: the bowl and whisk must be absolutely clean as the slightest evidence of fat will prevent the whites from whipping to a stiff consistency. Clean your bowl and whisk with boiling water and washing detergent and rinse well before making meringue.

For the meringue

3 egg whites
100g caster sugar
1tsp cornflour
1tsp white wine vinegar

To serve

200ml double cream
A few drops of good-quality vanilla essence
1tbsp caster sugar
200-250g strawberries, leaves removed and sliced or halved depending in size
100-120ml or so of strawberry purée (see Bellini recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 120C/gas mark 1. In a mixing machine with a whisk attachment, mix the egg whites until stiff – you can also do it by hand but this will take a while. Add the caster sugar and continue whisking until they are really stiff and shiny. Add the cornflour and vinegar and whisk again for about 30 seconds.

Spoon the mixture on to a clean baking tray, lined with silicone or greaseproof paper, into 4 round domes, making an indentation with the back of the spoon in the middle of each. Alternatively you can make one big meringue.

Cook in the oven for 1½ hours so the meringue is crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, but don't let the outside colour – you want it nice and white. When you're happy it's ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla essence. To serve, hollow out the meringue by carefully pushing the centre in with the back of a spoon to make room for the cream. Fill the cavity with cream and scatter over the sliced strawberries, then finally spoon over the strawberry purée.

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