Cranberry Orange Meringue Nests

by Shoshana on December 28, 2015 · 0 comments

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I am not one for big New Year’s parties or grand New Years resolutions. I still like to mark the celebration, however, with a dinner that is a bit more elegant than a regular weeknight. And that, of course, means I need an elegant dessert to match. In the days before I had kids I would spend whole days creating show stopping desserts that truly were labors of love. These days I don’t have that kind of time so instead I go with desserts that are still delicious and elegant, but take a whole lot less time. For that reason I love the elegance of individually plated desserts. They make it feel like a truly special occasion, even thought they are not much more work.

These Orange Meringue Nests with Cranberry Curd are a wonderful combination of textures and flavor, with the crunchy meringue and the creamy curd striking just the right balance. The cranberry curd is a nice change of pace from the traditional lemon or raspberry varieties and is the perfect flavor for the holiday season. All the components can be made ahead which makes these the perfect dessert for entertaining. They can also be made bite sized to grace a cookie platter or fit right in at a cocktail party. They are the perfect end of the year treat.

Cranberry Orange Meringue Nests

Cranberry Orange Meringue Nests

Ingredients

For the Meringue Nests

3 large egg whites, room temperature

pinch of cream of tartar

2-3 drops concentrated orange oil

Scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch, sifted

For the Cranberry curd

1/4 unsweetened cranberry concentrate (available at natural foods stores)

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

pinch of salt (omit if using salted margarine or butter)

4 tablespoons margarine or butter, cut into 8 pieces

Preparation

For the Meringue Nests:

Using a 2 inch cookie cutter or jar top, draw 8 circles on a sheet of parchment paper. Turn the paper over, and place on a baking sheet; set aside.

Preheat oven to 200° F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites, cream of tartar, and orange oil. Beat on medium-low speed until soft peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce to low speed and gradually sprinkle the sugar over the whites. Increase the speed to high and whisk until stiff, glossy peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from stand mixer; sift cornstarch over mixture, using a large spatula fold to combine.

Fit a pastry bag with a large plain pastry tip and fill pastry bag with meringue. Starting in the centre of one of the circles, holding the pastry bag vertically, pipe from the middle outwards. Pipe one or two layers around circle to form a rim around the edge. Repeat with remaining circles.

Transfer baking sheet to oven, and bake for 1 hour. Reduce temperature to 175° F, and continue to bake until meringue has dried but is still white, about 1 1/2 hours more. Turn off oven and leave the meringue nests in for at least two hours to dry, preferably overnight.

For Cranberry Curd:

Combine the cranberry concentrate, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and add them to the saucepan. Place the saucepan over low heat and stir continuously until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the margarine or butter. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.

To assemble the dessert:

Spoon cranberry curd into the center of the meringue nests. Refrigerate for at least one hour to slightly soften the meringues.

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