Sunday, November 28, 2010

Birthday Meringue Nests

Yesterday was the birthday celebration of Gray Ellwood and of course I wanted to bake this lovely man a birthday cake.

When I texted Gray with the question "What is your favourite type of cake?", I could not have anticipated his response... Imagine my surprise to receive a text message with the reply: "That is a good question. I quite enjoy a pavlova or a meringue."

As I had never made meringue before, I must admit that I did momentarily curse the name of Gray Ellwood (only very momentarily of course), especially as meringues are so notoriously difficult to make. But actually as soon as I started making them I discovered they are really easy to make and actually super fun. I particularly enjoyed whisking the egg whites until I could hold the bowl above my head. I now can't wait to do them again.

Once I had cooked the meringue nests - which was brilliant because the hour and a quarter that they were in the oven gave me ample time for me to have a bath and get ready to go out, I decided to fill them with some whipped cream, strawberries, a few frozen berries I had in the freezer and some shavings of dark chocolate.

The meringue nests turned out to be a perfect birthday present (if a little random). From the feedback given to me over the course of the evening from Gray and everyone else who had scoffed the meringue nests, I gathered that they were crispy, gooey and chewy all at once, sweet but not too sweet and very moreish.

4 large egg whites
250g golden caster sugar
A punnet of strawberries
A handful of frozen berries
A tub of double cream
Dark chocolate
*You will also need greaseproof paper.

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Whisk the egg whites up until they are forming soft peaks and you can confidently hold the bowl above your head without any egg white flying all over you.

Once the eggs have reached this stage, add the caster sugar one dessert spoonful at a time and continue whisking. Line an oven tray with greaseproof paper and spoon the meringue mixture into little pools on the paper. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature of the oven to 11o degrees C and bake for a further hour.

In the meantime, chop up the strawberries and add them to a bowl with the berries. Whip up the cream. Mix with the berries. Once the meringues are out of the oven, crush the tops a little with a spoon and add spoonfuls of the cream and fruit to the meringue nests.

Grate the dark chocolate over the meringue nests to taste and serve. Delightful.

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