Photograph by Winona Barton-Ballentine Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Heather Greene
Those who don’t believe in magic will never eat it.Gather Journal Curiouser and Curiouser Meringue
“Do you suppose she’s a wildflower?,” the Daisy asked. Wild yes, but inquisitive Alice is not from any garden! This “genus humanus” is our guide through Lewis Carroll’s wonderland, a place of prodigious absurdity filled with dizzy mad hatters and hookah-smoking caterpillars, where croquet is played with flamingos and hedgehogs and food has a shape-shifting effect. Such is the case with our topsy-turvy, tiered meringue cake festooned with berries and flowers; an edible paean to never losing your sense of wonder.
serves 8 to 10
Preheat oven to 200°F with a rack in upper and lower third. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Trace an 8-inch, 6-inch, 4-inch, 3-inch, and 2-inch circle then flip paper over.
Split vanilla beans and scrape seeds into a mixing bowl with the egg whites. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. While continuing to beat, add the sugar in a gentle, steady stream, pausing occasionally to ensure sugar is dissolved before adding more. When all the sugar has been added, increase speed to high and continue to beat until the whites hold glossy stiff peaks.
Spoon meringue into each outline in swirly rounds, leaving a slight well in the center. Bake two hours. Don’t open the oven. Turn it off and let the meringues cool inside, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Just before serving, whip cream with rosewater to soft peaks and then fold in jam. Stack meringues with wild layers of cream and berries. Scatter with flowers.