Well it’s official. I’m restricted to a gluten and dairy free diet for at least the next two weeks. That nixed my idea to bring kimchi blue cheese croissants to Sally’s birthday picnic. Clock ticking, I had to come up with something fast, portable, and preferably delicious with some flair. Meringues!
Meringues are ridiculously simple and easy to make, yet they come out making you look like a master pastry chef. Best of all for this week, no dairy or gluten involved, yet it’s still dessert.
Makes about 15 lemon curd filled meringue nests
6 Large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
Recipe Adapted from Cooking for Isaiah by Silvana Nardone
3 large eggs plus 1 additional large egg yolk, room
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
*Raspberries, Unsweetened Dried Shredded Coconut, and Mint for topping
I have made this meringue recipe before and to be honest, most meringue recipes are pretty much the same. Egg whites + sugar. That’s it. Meringues are easy to whip up; the only tricky part is the length of time to cook them. This often depends on the humidity of your kitchen and the weather. For example, last time I made these, I cooked them for an extra hour to get the “crunchy on the outside fluffy on the inside” texture. This time I cooked them for less time, but they were mostly crispy all the way through, which was prefect for this dessert.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Start by beating your egg whites and salt with an electric mixer until foamy and white. Add the granulated sugar in three batches, beating for two minutes between each addition. Beat until peaks form.
Add the powdered sugar and beat to blend for about one minute. The mixture now looks like marshmallow fluff.
Next you need to get that meringue mixture into a piping bag to squeeze out onto the baking sheet. I find the best way to do this is to fold over the top of the bag and prop it up in a tall glass. Then fill in with the meringue and twist the top closed. I actually used two bags: one with a large tip and one with a smaller tip for the nest “edges”. You can also use a zip lock bag and cut off a small amount of the corner to make an opening (less control though). Pipe out a disc about 3″ across onto the baking sheet with parchment paper. Make 15 discs total. Next, take the piping bag with the smaller tip and slowly pipe around the edges of the disc, coiling up to make a “nest/basket”, about three times around. Don’t worry if your nests don’t look perfect, they take some practice since the meringue is so soft. Plus, I have it on good authority that the lopsided nests are more delicious.
Place in the oven and bake for approximately two and a half hours until dry (depending on the humidity and desired crunchiness) Halfway through I noticed the meringues getting a little brown, so I covered them with a foil “tent”.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely for one hour. Store in an airtight container with parchment paper between layers to keep them from sticking together. You can make these up to two days ahead of time.
Onto the lemon curd. This is also very simple and easy. In a heatproof bowl combine all of the ingredients and whisk to combine. Make a double boiler by placing the heatproof bowl over a simmering pot of water. Now continue to whisk constantly for the next 6-8 minutes until the mixture thickens into custard-like consistency. Lemon curd complete! Let cool a bit and then chill in the fridge for at least one hour.
Finally to the assembly. Spoon lemon curd into each meringue nest. Sprinkle the lemon curd with the dried shredded coconut. You can certainly leave this off if you desire. Top with fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.
Off to the picnic you go!