I live for peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums every summer. I admit, I have a thing for stone fruits, especially when combined with a soft meringue cake and pillowy coconut whipped cream. For this recipe, I sometimes macerate the peaches (or other fruit) in sugar and wine.
The wine is, of course, optional, but tradition is hard to break. To me, it takes me back to my summers spent in Italy as a kid, where dessert at restaurants was often whole peaches floating in a big bowl filled with ice and ice water served alongside chilled, crisp white wine meant for dunking.
Go ahead and leave the wine out, if you prefer, and just macerate the fruit in the sugar to release some of the peach juices.
To shape the meringue, I like to trace around an 8-inch round cake pan with a pencil.
Then, I evenly spread the meringue to fill the circle.
And, I finish by running an offset spatula (or butter knife) along the meringue to smooth out the edge.
Homemade coconut whipped cream or store-bought dairy-free whipped cream, for topping
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the peaches, wine, if using, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar; refrigerate.
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites with the salt on high speed until fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium-high and gradually beat in the remaining 1 cup of sugar. Beat in the cornstarch, lemon juice and vanilla; continue beating until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Mound the meringue on the prepared baking sheet, shaping it evenly into an 8-inch circle. Reduce the oven heat to 250° and bake for 45 minutes, until pale in color. Turn off the heat and let the meringue cool in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
To serve, invert the meringue onto a serving plate, top with whipped cream and the prepared peaches and cut into wedges.