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Happy Strawberry Shortcake Day, folks. I just came back from a party dipped in pink princess awesomeness, and it was so splendid. I do miss pink and sparkly every now and then, but I wouldn’t change what I’ve got for anything.

That said, I am building a tower of pink pinkness that will satisfy my girly craving for the one color I don’t have very much of in my own home. The extra meringue layer I am sneaking into my strawberry shortcakes is flavored and colored with freeze-dried strawberries reduced to a fine powder and folded in. The meringues come out so flavorful and sooooPINK! Just what I wanted!

Strawberry Meringues

1 c. freeze dried strawberries (I use the sliced ones found at Trader Joe’s)
2 egg whites
1/2 c. sugar
A few drops of lemon juice
1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to the lowest setting (250F or lower is ideal).
Place the strawberries in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are powdered. You should have about 5 Tbsp. Set aside.
Place the egg whites and sugar in a bowl and set over a double boiler. Heat the egg mixture, whisking constantly, until the temperature reaches 140F. Remove from the heat and transfer to a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the lemon juice and whip on high speed until the mixture cools to room temperature and a stiff meringue is achieved. Add the vanilla and mix just until combined.
Fold the strawberry powder in with a rubber spatula.
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Using a bag fitted with a plain piping tip, pipe six flat discs of meringue onto a paper-lined sheet pan. Pipe a bunch of little kisses with the rest of the meringue. Great for garnish, great for snacking.
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Bake until the meringues are crisp and dry, but remove before they begin to brown around the edges, about 45-60 minutes, depending on the lowest setting on your oven.

Shortcakes

1 cup cake flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp very cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the first five ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and continue to pulse until a very coarse meal forms. Add the yolks and cream and pulse until it forms a rough dough. Remove the dough and knead gently to form a cohesive dough. Chill for 30 minutes. Flatten the dough to 1/2″ thickness and cut with a circle cutter (these discs should be about the same size as the meringue discs). Bake until light golden, about 15-18 minutes.

The Strawberries

2 pints fresh strawberries, stemmed and quartered
2 Tbsp. brandy
3 Tbsp granulated sugar

Toss all three ingredients together in a bowl and allow to macerate for a few minutes.

Whipped Cream

1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Whip to medium-stiff peaks.

Assembly

Cut the shortcakes in half (horizontally). Place the bottom piece on a plate and top with a generous scoop of strawberries and juice. Top with an equal amount of whipped cream. Place a meringue disc atop the whipped cream, then top with another scoop of strawberries and cream. Place the top the shortcake on top. Garnish with a bit more cream and some meringue kisses.
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