1. Make the meringues. Heat the oven to 275 degrees F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir together the sugar and cornstarch until theyre well blended, then set the mixture aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, use a hand or stand mixer set on medium speed to beat together the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt until the mixture is foamy and holds soft peaks, about 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Increase the mixers speed to medium-high, slowly add one-fourth of the sugar mixture, and beat until the sugar has dissolved. Repeat, adding the sugar in three more batches and scraping down the sides as you work. When the whites are sturdy enough to hold a stiff peak, add the vanilla extract and beat to blend the mixture evenly.
4. With an ice cream scoop, place L-cup portions of the meringue about 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. You should have enough to make 12 servings. Gently use the back of the scoop to make a well in the center of each mound.
5. Place the meringues in the oven and reduce the ovens temperature to 250 degrees F. Let them bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until they are crisp on the outside but have not changed color significantly. Transfer the meringues from the baking sheets to a wire rack. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then gently lift each meringue off the sheet and place it directly on the rack to cool completely.*
6. Remove the leafy tops of the berries and slice them into quarters. In a medium bowl, toss the berries with 3 tablespoons sugar, stirring them until theyre well coated. Set the berries aside for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to help release their juices, then cover and refrigerate them until serving time.
7. For the whipped cream topping, use a hand mixer set at medium speed to beat together the cream and the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar in a large mixing bowl for 1 minute. Increase the speed to high and continue beating, scraping down the sides if needed, until the cream holds stiff peaks, about 3 to 4 minutes.
8. To assemble each dessert, place a meringue on a small plate and spoon whipped cream into the center. Drizzle on the berries and juice.
9. Nancie McDermott is the author of Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes, From Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan.