Berry Meringue Nests

Alright, friends.  I think that this may be the third and final act of this year’s Lemon-palooza.  Oh, what a wild ride it’s been: memories made, recipes shared, and countless lemons sacrificed for the cause (totally worth it).  That said, I feel that it is high time that we move on to bigger and better things… at least until next year’s Lemon-palooza.

This last, lemony jewel was actually inspired by the recent photographic antics of one of my dear aunts: there is a tree that grows right next to, and practically through her back deck.  In this tree, sitting just barely out of reach, is a robin’s nest.  Being unable to very well reach the nest on her own, my aunt has taken to reaching as high as she can, possibly with the assistance of a chair or stool, stretching out her hand above the nest, and snapping pictures and videos with her iPhone, all in the hopes of capturing an image of what, if anything, is to be found in the nest.  Well, she done good.  A month or so ago, she found that there were, indeed, three perfect, blue robin eggs comfortably resting in the nest.  A few short weeks later, tiny chirps could be heard coming from the back deck.  Utilizing the same stretch-and-hope-for-the-best technique that so well served her before, my aunt shot a short video of the nest.  When she rewound and watched the video, she discovered that one egg had just hatched and the others were in the process of doing so!  What luck!  With that in mind, this one’s for you, baby birds.

In the spirit of spring and the groovy trend of insanely brightly colored attire, these berry meringue nests are full of color, flavor, and the spirit of spring.  The meringues themselves are crisp, lightly toasted, and the perfect container for lively lemon curd.  A fresh berry or two happily reside atop the lemon curd, completing this trifecta of delight.  I don’t think that you, or anyone who tries these, will be able to help but smile and say “mmm” when you give these sugary trophies a try.

Berry Meringue Nests

Adapted from Cooks.com

Ingredients:

3 egg whites, room temperature

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

6 Tbs. powdered sugar, sifted

1 Tbsp. freeze-dried raspberries (pictured), strawberries, or blueberries (mangoes could also be magnificent in this recipe), crushed to a fine powder

1/4 cup lemon curd of Minneola tangelo curd

1/2 pint fresh blackberries or blueberries

Equipment:

1 large medium mixing bowl

1 electric hand mixer or stand mixer

1 cookie sheet

parchment paper

2 piping bags (or use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  In the large mixing bowl, use the stand mixer or electric hand mixer to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Add the cream of tartar.  Then, one tablespoon at a time, add the powdered sugar and crushed freeze-dried berries.  Continue to beat until well-combined; the mixture should now appear glossy and smooth.

Scoop the meringue into a piping bag with a 1/2″ diameter opening.  On a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, swirl the meringue into a small circle, 1 1/2″- 2″ in diameter.  Then, continue swirling the meringue to make the walls of the nest.  Continue swirling until the walls of the nest are about 1″-1 1/2″ high.  Repeat with the remainder of the meringue.

Place the meringues in the oven.  Cook for 7-10 minutes at 350F, then turn off the oven but keep the meringues in the oven.  Keep the meringues in the cooling oven for 2-3 hours, or until the oven has cooled to close to room temperature.  The meringues should have a lovely toasted look on top.

Just before serving, use a piping bag or small spoon to scoop 1/2-1 teaspoon of lemon curd into the nest.  It’s important that you not add the lemon curd until just before you intend to serve the nests, lest they get soggy (soggy meringues are still delicious, but not nearly as attractive).  Top the lemon curd with a blackberry, a few blueberries, or some chopped strawberries.  Enjoy!

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