My mom first introduced me to the concept of “meringue nests” when she told me about having it for dessert at a fancy restaurant in Ireland. She took this picture and sent it to me. When she told me about how good it was, I couldn’t believe I had never thought to make strawberry meringue nests given my love of strawberries and quest for ever more strawberry desserts and my husband’s urging to “make pavlova.” This dessert satisfies those goals and also many more; it is an elegant dessert that has a lot of “wow power,” can be made ahead so is great to accompany a complicated meal, is light and airy so not quite as filling as the more popular strawberry shortcake and strawberry pie. The meringue nests can also be served with other fruit or lemon curd when strawberries aren’t in season.
The recipe is pretty straightforward and can be tweaked depending on the number of servings you need to make. To make one 4-inch “nest” you need 1/2 an egg white. So if you aim to make 6 “nests,” you will need 3 egg whites. It is important to bring the egg whites to room temperature before whipping them. It is easier to crack the eggs while cold because they will separate better.
For the nests:
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
For the strawberries:
1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
For the whipped cream:
1/2 cup of heavy cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. It is nice to draw a 4 inch circle on the underside of your parchment paper to serve as an outline for your nests. Remember you will be able to make about 2 nests per egg.
Place egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar (about 1 tablespoon at a time) and beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Meringue will start to glisten.
Using a large spoon drop a dollop of meringues onto prepared baking sheet. Use another large spoon to get the dollop off and create a “nest” in the meringue. Alternatively, you can transfer the meringue mixture to a piping bag and pipe the nests making sure the bottom is a solid circle so that the filling won’t leak out later.
Bake the nests for 45-50 minutes or until they are totally set and dry. Leaving he door open or closed, turn off the oven and allow meringues to sit in the oven for an additional hour. You can store your meringues in an airtight container for up to two days.
Prior to serving your meringues, prepare your strawberries and cream. To make whipped cream, add cream to the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until cream is thick and fluffy. Be careful not to over beat or you’ll end up with butter. Top each meringue with sliced strawberries and cream.
And here it is!