What with this unseasonably warm weather we've been gratefully receiving of late, I was in the mood for something summery. I spent ages deliberating over which recipe to use and I kept coming back to these meringue nests. I hope you'll forgive me for using strawberries as they're of course completely out of season!! I suppose I could have waited for Neil's strawberries to grow but no doubt I would be waiting a rather long time!
As we were heading into town in the morning I added strawberries to my ever lengthening shopping list. I wanted to take Isaac to soft play before heading to the supermarket. Strangely, Neil decided to head to the bank and library while Isaac and I entered a large room full of toddlers, tired parents and a heck of a lot of noise. We only had half an hour, so we made the most of it. We enjoyed a rather inelegant bounce on the bouncy castle; I pushed Isaac around in cars, on tractors and bikes. Isaac happily went down the slides and we both crawled through the tunnel. Thankfully it was large enough to accommodate my wide frame! Well, half an hour was more than long enough as I was absolutely exhausted – I hadn't realised how unfit I was! Isaac would have happily whizzed around for longer if given the chance. After a spot of shopping we headed home and I collapsed in a hot heap on the sofa. Neil had kindly bought sandwiches for lunch so I could stay in my position a little longer.
With a nicely full tummy and energy somewhat restored, I shuffled to my post in the kitchen. I hadn't made meringue for a while, so I could only vaguely remember what to do. I was thrown off course when I saw that I should use icing sugar instead of caster. This recipe was obviously different to what I was used to. I read the recipe header and saw that this particular version is called Meringue Cuite (what a great name) apparently it is drier and is good at holding its shape.
I started off by separating the four eggs and put the whites into my mixing bowl. It always seems wasteful to throw away the yolks, so I decided to save them for a helping of rich scrambled eggs. I was just to whisk the whites until foaming; this took mere moments. To help eliminate the mess which seems inevitable when using icing sugar, I sifted it into the bowl little by little. The next part really was very different to what I had been used to. I had to set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk it to within an inch of its life. The whole time I kept my eyes peeled for any signs that the mixture was overheating. Mary mentions that the meringue can crust around the edges if it gets too hot. Thankfully I was lucky enough to avoid that happening. It did take several minutes to get the mixture nice and stiff. Once firm it held its shape brilliantly. As I've said many times before, I loathe piping. The only reason for this hatred is because I can't do it!! The mixture was so thick it was tricky getting it all pushed down into the piping bag and I in turn ended up completely smothered. As expected, my attempt at piping meringue nests was untidy and they all seemed to lean lopsidedly to one side! At least they held their shape as promised. I placed the tray of six nests into the oven on a very low heat and hoped for the best. Meanwhile I happily gorged on raw meringue, yum!
According to the instructions, the nests should be ready after about forty five minutes in the oven. I should be so lucky! They were meant to be crisp and dry and mine were still soft underneath, so they ended up with an extra half an hour in the oven. In the end two never did harden but I got bored waiting! It took next to no time for the meringue nests to cool, so I set about slicing up the super sized strawberries; they were big’uns! I filled each nest with the juicy strawberries and then spooned over some warmed redcurrant jelly. The nests did look rather pretty, especially with the red of the fruit contrasting against the white of the meringue. When I tucked into a nest I realised that Mary wasn't kidding; they really are dry and crunchy. However, the bases were still a little soft and chewy. All in all these little nests were quite delicious. My only disappointment was not having a hefty dollop of cream inside my meringue nest. Having said that, there is nothing to stop me from adding my own, or better still a scoop or two of ice cream. Now there's a thought!
|Strawberries make me think of summer :-)|