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Chocolate Meringue Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter and line the bottoms of two - 8 x 1 1/2  inches (20 x 3.75 cm) round cake pans with parchment paper.

Separate the eggs while they are still cold, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes). In a large bowl sift the cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt.

Using an electric mixer, or hand mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the two cake pans. Set aside while you make the meringue layer. 

Using a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Evenly divide the meringue and place on top of the cake batter in the two pans, gently smoothing the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. The meringue layers will have turned a light brown and will be crisp to the touch but soft inside. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool. When completely cooled, gently remove from pans. 

Filling: Shortly before serving whip the cream with the sugar until soft peaks form. In a separate bowl, toss the berries with a little sugar, if desired. If using strawberries, cut them into bite sized pieces.

Assemble: Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving platter. Spread the whipping cream onto the cake and top with the berries. Gently place the second cake layer, cake side down so the meringue layer is facing up, onto the first layer. Dust with confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar. If not eating immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator until serving time. The assembled cake will hold in the refrigerator for a few hours.  Serves 8 - 10.

3 large (60 grams) egg yolks

1/2 cup (45 grams) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 cup (130 grams) all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

Meringue Layer:

3 large (90 grams) egg whites

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

2/3 cup (130 grams) granulated white sugar

Filling:

1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream

1-2 T (15-30 grams) granulated white sugar

1 pound (454 grams) fresh berries