Do the meringue

The thing about meringue is, it’s not pizza. You don’t want to work it like a dough, you don’t want to slap a bunch of stuff on top before you bake it, and you don’t won’t to flap it into an oven set at bronze melting or even cake baking temperatures. Once it’s baked though, you can do what you want to it–save it for next month when your Aunt Bertha comes knocking, or layer it up with an espresso and rum doused sponge cake, chocolate mousse, and whipped cream or my favorite–whip the cream, fold it into a bit of mascarpone with a little sugar, and stack it up with almond studded, barely bronzed meringues, flat as crispy cookies, and juicy, red, just picked strawberries. (I know I just had strawberries and cream last Saturday night, but when something is so good on Saturday, I am all for more of the same on Wednesday.) You could serve it with hot tea, and put your stockings on, or you could forget the stockings, go bare legged and move right to the Prosecco.

Beat 5 egg whites with a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar until stiff. Fold in another 1/2 cup of sugar, mixed in with 2 cup of almonds that you have ground in the processor (I like skins on). Now fold in 1/2 cup of melted and cooled to room temperature butter–all very carefully, either with your hand or a rubber spatula so that you don’t deflate the eggs. Sift a scoop of flour. Sift it again. Sift it again. Now from that, measure 1/2 cup. Sift it over the top of your egg whites. Fold in. Grate a tiny bit of lemon zest over that when the flour is nearly folded in. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees, and be sure the oven is telling you the truth. Grease 2 cookie sheets, cover with parchment paper, butter the paper, then spoon the egg white mixture out onto the paper, dividing it between the two sheets and spreading each into a 1/4 inch high rectangle. Bake for about 45 minutes, and immediately slide a metal spatula under the cakes to loosen, and invert so that you can peel off the paper. Cool, and layer with 3 parts heavy cream to one part mascarpone and a few tablespoons of sugar, and cut strawberries, leaving some whole or halved to place along the top layer of cream.
I think this is best after a delicious and simple grilled steak (dressed with olive oil and lemon), that has been served with a crusty baguette, and fresh fava beans for dipping into your best olive oil and salt.

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