Slice or quarter 8 oz of the strawberries in bowl. Loosely crush with food masher. Add 2 tbsp caster sugar along with the lemon juice and let berries sit for about 15 minutes to release their juice. Slice half of the remaining berries (apx. 4 oz) and add to the crushed berries. Stir. Reserve remainder of strawberries for garnish.
In chilled bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the whipping cream on medium speed while slowly adding the icing sugar and then the vanilla. Increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form. Do not beat to stiff peak stage – the whipped cream is meant to be soft (but not soupy) in this dessert. Remove bowl from mixer stand.
Break or chop 4 meringue nests into bite-size pieces and add to the whipped cream by using a rubber spatula to fold in the meringue pieces. Fold about ½ cup of the crushed berry mixture into the whipping cream and meringue mixture. Make 2-3 quick folds with a rubber spatula to incorporate the berries but do not overmix or whipping cream will turn pink.
Spoon the remaining crushed berry mixture, divided equally, into bottom of glass pedestal dessert dishes. Divide the meringue mixture evenly between the dessert dishes. Crumble remaining 2 meringues over the tops of the desserts and garnish each with remaining sliced strawberries. Add a sprig of fresh mint to each dessert, if desired. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings