Does this happen to anybody else ever? You have left over egg yolks so you make pudding, but then you end up needing more egg yolks than you had so you end up with left over egg whites. Now you’re just stuck in an endless cycle of using up leftover parts of eggs! It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it means you end up with super yummy meringue nests you wouldn’t have made otherwise! And aren’t unintended desserts the best kind? I’m sure they don’t have as many calories in either 😉
When I have egg whites to use up my first thought is always meringue, it’s one of my all time favourite sweets. There’s just something about the way it crunches and melts in your mouth all at the same time that is just irresistible to me. I thought about making some meringue to crush up and put in an Eton Mess, but then I decided I should make the meringue a dessert all by itself, it deserves to be the star of the show after all!
As a baker I always like to make sure I at least have lemons and cream in the fridge and a well stocked spice cupboard, there are few things you can’t spruce up with the right citrus and spice (plus lemons are insanely useful for so many things around the house) and cream makes everything better and more decadent. As luck would have it, I also had some oranges in the fridge. Orange and cinnamon are natural partners, their familiar dance on your tongue is traditional but still exciting as the first time. Lemon and cardamom may not be as familiar to some, but when they take to the dance floor it’s clear they were always meant to be. And that has to get an award for the weirdest metaphor I’ve written… this week anyway! So I’m no shakespeare, but I think I got my point across – these are flavour combinations made in heaven!
So with those strange metaphors swimming around my head, I added lemon zest to half of the meringue and orange zest to the other half. Baked them and filled the lemon ones with cardamom cream and the orange ones with cinnamon cream. The food colouring added the meringue is technically optional, but I really do think it’s what makes this dessert look so fun and inviting! So unless you have an allergy or an aversion to food colourings, I would definitely keep them in!
Meringue is really not as hard to make as some might think. You just have to make sure to whip your egg whites properly and make sure your equipment is clean and dry. Some people add cream of tartar or lemon juice to their egg whites to help stabilise them, but I find the sugar does that job well enough for meringue. Baking them correctly is the other important factor of course, they need a low heat for a fairly long time. When the baking time is up, I like to turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool inside the oven as it cools down itself. I find that the best way to get the melt in your mouth texture. Patience is the key here and my lack of patience is usually my biggest downfall, so if I can do it so can you!
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And on the subject of magic, I’m gonna bring these little beauties to the magical party that is Fiesta Friday! I hope our host, and co hosts Nancy and Loretta, like them – and of course all your wonderful partiers too!
- 4 large egg whites
- 225g caster sugar
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
- yellow and orange food colouring (gel is best)
- 400ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- Preheat your oven to 140C/280F and line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
- Prepare your piping bags, fit them with a large star nozzle (if you only have 1 nozzle, you can prepare the second one after you're done with the first). Dip a clean, wet paint brush into your food colouring and paint lines from inside the tip of the nozzle all the way up your piping bag - yellow in one, orange in the other. You want nice, vibrant colours so don't be shy with the colouring. You want 3 or 4 stripes evenly spaced around the bag. Place the piping bags in a large glass to hold it upright, ready to be filled.
- Pour your egg whites into a clean, dry bowl (either your stand mixer bowl, or you can use a hand held mixer) and whisk until soft peaks form. This can take a little while, you'll know they're ready when they start to hold shape but only just, they tips will immediately fall down and back into the mixture. Continue to whisk the eggs, adding 1 tbsp sugar at a time until all the sugar has been added and you have thick, glossy meringue and stiff peaks (peaks stand firm when whisk is pulled away, the tips will stand straight up).
- Divide the meringue into two bowls. Add the lemon zest to one and gently fold in, do the same with the orange zest in the other bowl.
- Spoon the lemon meringue into the piping bag with the yellow colouring. Pipe a small circle on the baking sheet, bring it up and around again to create a nest. Repeat with remaining meringue and do the same for the orange meringue in the orange coloured piping bags. Be gentle when piping, you don't want to deflate the egg whites. You should get around 6 nests out of each flavour, but just keep going until you've used up all the meringue.
- Bake in your preheated oven for 1 hour. Then, leaving the meringues in the oven, turn the heat down to 120C/240F and bake for another 30 minutes. The oven is ready to be turned off when the meringues are easily lifted off the baking paper, if they don't peel away easily keep the oven and continue to bake. Check every 5 or so minutes until done. Then turn the oven off, leave the meringues in the oven and leave to cool.
- Once meringues are cooled, remove from the oven and make the creams.
- Pour 200ml of the double cream into a clean, cold bowl (for best results, put your bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 5 or 10 minutes) and whisk until soft peaks form, add the cardamom and continue whisking until stiff peaks form. Spoon into a clean piping bag and pipe into the lemon meringue nests.
- Repeat with the remaining 200ml cream and cinnamon, pipe into the orange meringues.
- Best served the day they are made as the moisture of the cream will make the meringue break down a bit.
- If you don't have a piping nozzle, no worries, just snip the end off the piping bags after you've spooned the meringue into it. Your nests will have a different look, but they'll still look good.
- If using the same nozzle for both meringue flavours, make sure you wash and dry it thoroughly between flavours.
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