Vacherin is a milk-white cake composed of layers or meringue and whipped cream. It is named for vacherin cheese, which it resembles. There are many variations — ice cream is sometimes used as a filling, and various fruits are used to decorate the cakes. The trickiest part is slicing the cake without crushing it. As suggested, use a serrated knife, sawing gently through the meringue layers. Rinse and dry the knife between each cut.
- Egg Whites - 8
- Sugar - 2-1/4 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1 quart
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 3 ounces
- Vanilla Extract - 1 teaspoon
- Fresh strawberries - 5 large
Preheat the oven to 200 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly draw two 10-inch circles with a pencil.
Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until foamy. With the machine running, slowly add half of the sugar to the egg whites, then increase the speed to high and beat until they stand in soft peaks. With the machine still running, slowly add the remaining sugar and beat about 1 more minute, until the meringue stands in stiff peaks.
Put the meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe a spiral of meringue to fill each sketched circle on the parchment. Fill in the circles completely. Bake for 2 hours, until the meringue discs are completely dried and crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Put the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until foamy. With the machine running, slowly add the sugar and vanilla to the cream, then increase the speed to high and beat until it stands in firm peaks.
Place a cooled meringue disc on a cake board (foil-covered corrugated cardboard will work). Spread whipped cream over the disc, then turn the remaining disc upside down and place on top of the cream, pressing slightly to seat it firmly. Spread the cream around the sides and top, smoothing it with a serrated spatula in a wavy pattern. Put the remaining cream into a pastry bag fitted with a fluted tip and make rosettes around the rim of the cake. Put a rosette in the center. Draw spiral or curved designs on the sides of the cake. Pipe rosettes around the base of the cake. Put a whole strawberry in the center rosette. Slice the remaining strawberries in half and place around the rim of the cake. Chill until ready to serve.
To serve: Slice into individual wedges using a serrated knife; rinse the knife with warm water and dry completely between each slice.