3 large egg whites, at room temperature 30 minutes
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 lb strawberries, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise (3 cups)
3/4 cup well-chilled heavy cream
Special equipment: parchment paper
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 190°F.
Beat whites with a pinch of salt in a bowl using an electric mixer at medium-high speed until they just hold soft peaks. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add 3/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, beating, then continue to beat until whites hold stiff glossy peaks.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spoon a small dollop of meringue on each corner of parchment, then invert parchment to secure to baking sheet. Using a serving spoon, form meringue into 6 mounds about 2 inches apart on parchment. Using a soupspoon, lightly press down and swirl center of each meringue to spread out slightly, into a 3 1/2- to 4-inch round, and create a 1 1/2- to 2-inch-wide indentation in center.
Bake meringues until dry but still white, about 2 hours, then cool meringues in turned-off oven (with door closed) 1 hour. (Meringues will be crisp on outside and slightly soft in center.) Cool meringues completely on baking sheet on a rack.
While meringues cool, bring 5 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour cardamom syrup over strawberries in a heatproof bowl and stir gently to combine.
Just before serving, beat cream with 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom in a clean bowl using clean beaters until it just holds stiff peaks.
Peel meringues from parchment and put on 6 plates, then spoon about 1/4 cup berries with syrup into each indentation. Spoon whipped cream over berries and top with another 1/4 cup berries with syrup. Serve strawberry clouds immediately.
Meringues, without berries, syrup, or whipped cream, can be made up to 1 day ahead and kept in an airtight container at cool room temperature.
Source: Epicurious.com; Gourmet May 2006
Prepared by: Lena for the August 2006 meeting.