Makes one cake.
- FOR THE MERINGUE
- 18 large organic egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Nonstick cooking spray
- FOR THE CREME ANGLAISE
- 4 cups half-and-half
- 12 large egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- FOR THE CARAMEL SAUCE
- 1 cup sugar
- Prepare the meringue. Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in center. Fill a large roasting pan halfway with water and transfer to oven.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, slowly whisk whites and salt until slightly foamy. Add cream of tartar, and gradually increase the speed to high. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until meringue is stiff; lower speed and add vanilla, whisking until combined.
- Spray a 10-inch (15 cup) nonstick angel-food cake pan without a removable bottom using nonstick cooking spray; transfer meringue to pan. Using a rubber spatula, firmly press down on meringue to remove any air pockets, and to smooth the surface.
- Transfer to prepared roasting pan. Bake until lightly golden and puffed, 45 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely; meringue will deflate as it cools. Invert into a shallow serving bowl, and chill until ready to serve.
- Prepare the creme anglaise. Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until just beginning to steam, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk together yolks and sugar in a large bowl until smooth. While whisking constantly, slowly add 1/4 of the heated cream to yolk mixture, being careful not to cook the yolks. When thoroughly combined, slowly add remaining cream. Transfer yolk mixture back into same saucepan, and set over low heat, stirring and scraping down the sides of the pan with a small heatproof spatula until thickened. Strain creme anglaise through a fine sieve into bowl set in the prepared ice bath. Stir in vanilla. Chill until ready to serve.
- Prepare the caramel syrup. Combine sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Do not stir or allow to boil until sugar is completely dissolved; gently swirl or tilt saucepan to help dissolve. Bring syrup to a boil by increasing to high heat; cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Uncover, and continue to boil untouched until caramel begins to darken; swirl until syrup becomes a dark amber color. Remove from heat, and immediately add 1/3 cup water, being careful to stand back. Swirl until smooth and let cool; chill until ready to serve.
- When ready to serve, pour enough creme anglaise around meringue to surround it. Drizzle meringue with caramel syrup; serve immediately.