Preheat oven to 200°. Using a 9-inch cake pan, trace a circle onto a piece of parchment paper (reverse the paper for baking so that the ink does not touch food). Using a whisk or stand mixer, whip egg whites until frothy, then slowly pour in the sugar while still whipping at medium speed. Once white in color, add the vanilla extract and salt. Whip whites until glossy with very stiff peaks. Sift cornstarch over whites and fold into the mixture. Delicately pile whites onto circle on the parchment paper (placed on a baking sheet) to create a nice shape.

Bake meringue for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours, turning the baking sheet every 30 minutes, until meringue is hard on the surface and can be easily lifted off of the paper. The inside may remain slightly soft. This is a good thing!

Whip the cream, confectioner’s sugar and salt to medium peaks. While that’s mixing, scrape out the seeds from inside the vanilla bean, saving the pod for another use. Add the seeds to the mixing cream and set aside. Toss fruits and toasted nuts in the honey. Let sit for 10 minutes. Pour whipped cream on top of meringue. Place fruit and nut mixture on top of cream, and allow to cascade over the meringue. Serve within 30 minutes of assembling.

Note: Meringue can be baked up to 3 days in advance, if kept well wrapped or in a plastic container. Use whatever fresh fruit you wish for this dessert; I like to keep things seasonal and local, but tropical fruits work well also.

by Meredith Tomason of RareSweets