We asked Deanie Fox, pastry chef at Napa, California’s celebrated Ubuntu restaurant, to come up with a lightened version of the whipped cream she generally uses for this fresh, festive dessert. She was happy to oblige. The result is a tangy, light-as-air filling for crispy meringues.
1. To make Meringues: Preheat oven to 250°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat egg whites, lemon juice, and salt with electric mixer on low until foamy. Increase speed to medium, and add sugar 2 Tbs. at a time. Beat egg whites 6 minutes, or until stiff and glossy. Fold in vanilla, then cornstarch.
2. Spread 8 mounds of mixture on prepared baking sheet, making indentation in center of each. Bake 90 minutes, or until Meringues are crisp and dry on outside and slightly soft inside. Cool.
3. To make Topping: Combine strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and lavender, if using, in bowl. Let sit 30 minutes, or until sugar has dissolved and strawberries are juicy. Remove and discard lavender sprigs, if using.
4. To make Whipped Yogurt: Place heavy cream and yogurt in large bowl. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into bowl with back of knife. Whip with electric mixer on medium-high until beginning to thicken. Add sugar and vanilla; beat 2 to 3 minutes, or until soft peaks form.
5. Fill each Meringue with 1/4 cup Whipped Yogurt mixture. Top with 3 Tbs. strawberries.