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This is my modified version of a recipe from the Australian Woman's Weekly Best Ever Recipes. This makes a great dessert for a special occasion, it tastes and looks stunning. It is hard to describe but I'll try. It is actually meringue layers of varying sizes with cream and sliced strawberries between each layer. It is put together in a large cone shape then surrounded with tiny meringues, piped stars of whipped cream and whole strawberries for decoration. When served along with a fresh fruit salad it is just like eating pavlova. This does take a long time but it is well worth the effort and time. I am guessing at preparation time and it serves many. The original recipe had no strawberries, only cream between layers.
- To prepare trays; cover two large flat oven trays with aluminium foil; on first tray mark two circles, one 15cm (6"), one 10cm (4") in diameter.
- On the second tray mark three circles, 12cm (5"), 8cm (3") and 5cm (2") in diameter; saucers, cups, jars and lids of the right sizes can be used as guides for circles.
- The meringues are made in two batches, each using half of the above ingredients; when ready to make second batch of meringues, cover trays with fresh aluminium foil or baking paper.
- Beat 4 egg whites until soft peaks form; gradually beat in 1 1/4 cups of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; make sure each spoonful of sugar is dissolved by beating before adding the next spoonful, this ensures crisp meringues - if you want pink layers in cake, beat in enough food colouring to tint meringue light pink, otherwise leave meringue layers white.
- Spread meringue over circles marked on foil on the two prepared trays so they are approximately 2 cm (3/4”) thick; smooth tops of circles with spatula, bake both trays in very slow oven, 110 deg C (225 deg F) 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours; reverse oven position of slide after 30 minutes cooking time to allow for even cooking; when meringue feels dry to touch, remove from oven and carefully slide foil with meringue circles on top on to cake cooler; of if time permits let meringues cool in oven with door ajar, then slide foil with meringue circles on to cake cooler.
- Prepare slides as directed above for remaining meringue; mark 18cm (7") circle on one tray; prepare second batch of meringue with remaining 4 egg whites and 1 1/4 cups of sugar, using no colouring; spread meringue over 18cm (7") circle; mixture should be only about 1 cm (1/2”) thick then pipe 14 individual meringues approximately 4 cm (1 ½”) in diameter on to foil.
- Pipe small individual meringues approximately 2.5cm (1”) in diameter on second foil covered tray; you will need approximately 50 small meringues, which will all fit on to one tray; put tray with large circle and large meringues on shelf in centre of oven, put tray with small individual meringues on oven shelf beneath; bake in a very slow oven 110 deg C (225 deg F); after 30 to 45 minutes take lower tray with small meringues from oven and set aside to cool; move remaining tray one shelf down in the oven, where the small meringues were before.
- After 45 minutes to 1 hour remove large individual meringues from top tray on to cake cooler; return large meringue circle to oven for a further 30 minutes cooking time or until it is dry to touch.
- Wash, hull and slice strawberries, leaving at least 12 whole for decoration; spread out on paper towels to dry, whip cream to firm piping consistency, ( I find that if I test, as it gets close to right consistency, by tipping upside down – cream will stay in bowl if firm enough for piping, but keep testing so it doesn’t curdle if whipped too much) then spoon into large piping bag fitted with star tube; put 18cm (7”) meringue circle on serving plate, spread top lightly with whipped cream, top with sliced strawberries, then 15cm (6”) circle; continue with remaining meringue circles in order of size and layers of cream and sliced strawberries – don’t put strawberries to close to edge.
- Pipe circle of cream around bottom layer, gently press 4cm (1 ½”) diameter individual meringues into circle of cream; pipe another layer of cream above, press circle of small meringues in place; continue in this way until all small meringues are used; pipe small stars of cream in between assembled meringues and decorate with whole strawberries between only some of the meringues.