Raspberry Meringue Nests Ooh La La

Yesterday I was really in the mood to create in the kitchen.  Part of it was I’ve been watching cooking shows this week plus we went to see Hundred Foot Journey this past weekend.  What a great movie!  Our son really wanted to see it and I’m so glad he suggested it.  Aside from the fact Helen Mirren is a fabulous actress the scenery and food was just glorious.

I wanted to make a special dessert for my husband just because.  A get us through Wednesday treat.  This called for more than Bird’s custard, it was time for crème pâtissière. And because I love meringue this had to be the other main component.

I was faced with the whole hot dog/bun dilemma.  You know how they put 12 hot dogs in a package and 8 buns in a package so you are doomed to never match it up?  The meringue recipe calls for 3 egg whites and the crème pâtissière calls for 5 egg yolks.  Sigh.

Because I needed a smaller recipe for the meringue then I usually use for the pavlova I found this recipe to use.

For the meringue you will need:

3 egg whites

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

1/4 tsp of cream of tartar

3/4 cup white sugar

In an electric mixer with a whisk start beating the egg whites.

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On medium speed add the vanilla and cream of tartar.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Then gradually add the sugar while beating on high until the meringue forms and is stiff.

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Because I was making nests I spooned in the meringue into a pastry bag with a star tip and piped it onto parchment paper in the shape of nests.  I do recommend working quickly so the meringue stays firm.

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Bake at 275F/135C for 45 minutes then turn off the oven.  Leave the meringue in the oven with the door closed for an hour before removing.

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I turned to Julia Child for the crème pâtissière and you will need:

1 cup granulated sugar

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup flour

2 cups boiling milk (careful you don’t scald it)

1T butter

1 1/2 T vanilla extract

Place the yolks into the mixer with the whisk and beat on medium.

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Gradually add the sugar as you beat the yolks.  The colour will be pale yellow and once the sugar is added continue to beat 2-3 minutes.  What you are looking for is it to “form the ribbon”  This happens when the eggs lose the granular texture. This bit is tricky as if you beat to long it will turn back to being granular.

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Then beat in the flour.

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Once the flour is incorporated carefully and slowly add the boiling milk in a thin stream to the egg mixture while you are beating at medium speed.

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Add the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil.  This is where the the elbow grease comes in. You need to keep whisking as it comes to a boil.  It will get lumpy then it smooths out as it boils.  It will be really thick.

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Once it comes to a boil cook it for 2-3 minutes so the flour is cooked.  Then remove from the heat and add the butter.

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Blend it in and then cover the pot until ready to use.  You can refrigerate it or freeze it if you aren’t using it right away.

I found some Ghirardelli semi-dark chocolate that I thought would be a nice flavour for this dessert.

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I melted it and added a few pinches of sea salt. To assemble fill the nests with the crème pâtissière and top with fresh raspberries. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and add fresh mint leaves.

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I was very pleased with how this came out.  It was a great way to get through a Wednesday!

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

When I was growing up there were two special treats mum would make.  Lemon meringue pie and lemon curd.  They were amazing.  Poor mum would be over a hot stove making the curd, canning it, etc and I would come along and just gloop the stuff on my toast.  It was the best!  I’ve had store bought but I gave up buying it as it wasn’t the same.  And the pie was just cool looking to a little kid.

So when I was pinning various stuff on Pinterest I came across this recipe for Lemon Meringue Cupcakes from King Arthur Flour and knew I just had to make them.  It flashed me back to when I was small having the lovely treats.

Now the recipe calls for making the lemon curd in the microwave.  I was sceptical to say the least but Maria Dernikos posted the other day about this method and said it worked.  So I gave it a try.  It is very tasty.  Not the same as mum’s homemade mind you but it does the trick.  I made the whole recipe today but I recommend doing the curd the day before.  Nothing is overly difficult but there are many steps to this.

First I baked the cupcakes.  So I pre-heated the oven to 400F/204C and lined a muffin tin with cupcake paper.  The recipe calls for a light spray of oil so I did that as well.  Not sure whether that is needed but as these are my first real cupcakes (not just using cake batter in muffin tins and keeping fingers crossed) I followed the directions.

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In a mixing bowl add 1 1/2 cup flour, 1tsp, baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 2/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter (room temp), 1 large egg, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/3 cup buttermilk.  Mix all together.  It will be dry at first and you’ll need to scrape the sides as it mixes.  But it will smooth out.  Then add another 1/3 cup of buttermilk and mix until smooth and blended.

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Spoon batter into the cupcake paper filling about 2/3s full.

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Bake 15-18 minutes until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Put the cupcakes on a cooling rack to cool fully.

Next I made the lemon curd.  I bought some lovely organic lemons from our new local co-op for this.

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You will need one cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, one cup sugar, 1/2 cup of melted butter, and 2 large eggs.  Use a fairly large bowl for this as the curd tends to expand near the end of cooking.  Mix all of this together.

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Now King Arthur recommends cooking in the microwave one minute at a time with stirring in between.  This is because every microwave is different and it could be done quickly or if your microwave is old like ours it can take awhile.  But you need to stir each time.   As it gets close to being done it will rise up quickly in the bowl so I found towards the end I was doing 20 second intervals.

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The curd should coat the back of the spoon like a syrup.

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This needs to chill for a few hours to thicken.  Another reason to do it the day before.  Once the curd is ready it should look a bit like this does.

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The recipe mentions a cupcake corer.  Clearly I need to learn more as I had never heard of such a thing.  I just used a knife to take out plugs of cupcake which left little cones for the curd.

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Spoon in the curd into the little cones.

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I then put the cupcakes into the fridge to set some more while I did the meringue.  For the meringue take 3 egg whites and 1/4 tsp of cream of tartar and put it into a clean mixing bowl.

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Whip until you have soft peaks.

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Add 1/8 tsp of salt and mix it in.  Then add 6T of sugar, one at a time, as the mixer whips it into a lovely meringue.  I did this on high speed until I got the stiff peaks and it was “light and billowy” per King Arthur.

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It mentions then piping it onto the cupcakes.  One that just leads to more dishes and two I like the random peaks, just like the pie.  So I spooned the meringue onto the cupcakes and created the peaks.

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Then place under the broiler until golden.  This happens very quickly as I learned today as, ahem, some came out more toasted than the others.  Oops.

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Once you slice into this lovely lemony dessert the curd should be slightly runny but not too much.

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Well worth the effort.  Though the only bad part about this is it only makes 12!  Sigh.  🙂