A rustic, light, and beautiful dessert
I have never felt as much like a food blogger as I have in the last week. I attempted three different batches of meringues in just four days. The first recipe didn’t look as beautiful as I wanted so I tried the next night again. Still, I didn’t get the look I wanted (high altitude can be serious business, more on that later). Finally, I changed up the look on the third attempt (learning to have steady hands will have to wait!) and was finally satisfied. They are finally tall and happy!! So much love for these beautiful nests! But after all those batches, the bottom line is: we are drowning in meringues.
I moved to the Denver area almost a year ago and I haven’t noticed much of a difference in high altitude cooking. All the recipes I had tried living in MN still worked great here. I also never had a problem with recipes I found from other food bloggers. I may sometimes have to cook things a little longer or add a little more flour, but overall it’s hardly been a challenge. Then came these meringues. Dun dun DUN.
First two batches were a little sad. They weren’t flat, they weren’t totally ugly, they just weren’t as tall and happy as meringues should be! A couple minor changes to both the recipe and my technique finally resulted in these beauties. Maybe I can’t blame all my meringue problems on high altitude, but high altitude cooking does tend to make foods like cookies and cakes flatter. A little extra cream of tarter is the hero here! It helps the cookies hold their tall, stiff shape.
This recipe will work just about the same in low altitudes. The extra help for high altitudes will not affect low altitude cooking in a negative way. Your meringues will look and taste just as perfect!
Is there anything better than whipped cream and berries? Just one thing: whipped cream and berries over a lemon meringue. Fresh fruit is finally coming back in season so we all can forget the long winter of crazy expensive berries. Grab a few of your favorites. I used raspberries, blackberries, and a kiwi, but strawberries and blueberries would be totally divine on top as well!
Meringues are actually easy to make (don’t let my high altitude blues scare you!) and only take a few ingredients. Beat two egg whites with cream of tarter and a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. You will know it when you see it – it really looks like, well, soft peaks! It will be white and fluffy and the peaks will bend over a bit. You will slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiffer peaks form. These will stand straight up without falling over. Fold in a little lemon zest and dollop the meringue in large scoops on your baking sheet. Make a little indentation with a spoon in each nest to form a bowl-like shape and bake foreverrrr. Okay, not really. Two hours on a low temp plus an hour in the warm oven and you’ll have super light, crisp meringues! Just pop them in and forget about them for the next two hours! You can do it! And how impressed will your dinner guests be?!
Berry-Filled Lemon Meringue Nests
Time: 15 minutes active time, 3 hours and 15 minutes total time
Yields: 4-6 nests (one nest per serving)
2 eggs whites (don’t let even a little yolk in it)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
A pinch of salt
1/3 caster sugar (see notes!)
1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 to 2 cups mixed berries
Additional lemon zest
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a stand mixer with a wire whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tarter, and salt until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the sugar, little bits at the time, while the stand mixer continues to beat until stiff peaks form.
- On a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, dollop large scoops of the mixture. Using a spoon, form an indentation in each to create a bowl-like shape. Bake (you’re essentially drying them) for 2 hours. Without opening the oven, turn the oven off and leave for an additional hour. The meringues once fully cooked should feel crisp, light, and easily remove from the pan. Set aside.
- For the whipped cream, beat heavy cream and sugar together with a whisk or a hand mixer for 3-5 minutes, until soft peaks form. Spoon a good portion into each nest and top with berries. If desired, sprinkle additional lemon zest on each nest and dust with powdered sugar.
Notes: If you don’t have caster sugar or another superfine sugar on hand, simply run granulated sugar through a few pulses of your food processor. It will become more fine and perfect for this recipe. Also, do not be tempted to turn up the temperature to make the drying faster. This will quickly turn the meringues brown and taste burnt. Use an oven thermometer if possible to be sure you are drying them at the correct temperature.
If you try these, I’d love to see the result! Tag your kitchen creations with #mesacookingco so I can admire your beautiful work!
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