Strawberries (or fresh cherries would work here)
Core and cut the strawberries into thick slices. In a small saucepan, heat balsamic vinegar, lemon zest and sugar over low heat until it starts to bubble up. Add the strawberries and stir to coat them in the syrup. Let cook for another minute, remove from heat, and cool completely.
3 egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp white sugar
3/4 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 leaves basil, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 275F and line a baking sheet with parchment. In a very clean bowl, whisk egg whites with a hand blender or stand mixer on low speed for a few minutes, until small, uniform bubbles form. Increase speed to medium and gradually add white sugar and cornstarch. When the eggs are at stiff peak stage (crests that stand up stiffly when the beater is removed), add in vanilla and basil and continue whipping until flavorings are fully incorporated and the meringue is glossy. Spoon out onto the center of prepared baking sheet and spread gently with a spoon into a large disk approximately 1 1/2″ in height at the edges and slightly indented in the center.
Turn temperature down to 250F and bake for 55 minutes, then turn off the heat and open the oven door slightly, letting heat escape while not letting the meringue cool too quickly (which will cause the crunchy outside to separate from the soft middle). Remove meringue from the oven after letting it sit for 15 minutes. Let cool for at least 1/2 hour before serving.
Fresh Whipped Cream
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tbsp sugar
Whip cream and sugar together in a bowl just until stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat – or you’ll end up with butter!
Assembly Carefully separate meringue from parchment and place on large plate. Spread whipped cream evenly over meringue. With a slotted spoon, pile strawberries into the center, and drizzle some of the syrup on top.