Coconut Meringue Nests with Lime Curd and Blackberries

March 27, 2015

For years I said that meringue desserts were not for me. I thought they were no more than sweetened air, and I would always pick something else (like chocolate mousse) if I had a choice. Well it turns out I was wrong. Meringue desserts can be utterly delightful. Their simplicity makes them the perfect vehicle for flavor, with a delightful crunch that melts into a lingering sweetness in your mouth. Even better they can be used for everything from an assorted cookie platter to an elegant plated dessert. They are, in some ways, the little black dress of the dessert world.

These lime curd filled coconut meringue nests are the height of elegance. The sweet crunch of the meringue is perfectly offset by the tanginess of the lime curd and the fresh berries, while the coconut brings the flavors together. The combination of coconut and lime always make me feel just a bit like I’m on an exotic island vacation, which makes it feel much more indulgent. They are the perfect light spring dessert, a welcome end for a heavy Passover meal, but also light enough they would be great for Easter brunch. They are especially great for entertaining because all the components can be made in advance so all that is left to do on the day of the event is fill and serve.

Another great thing about this recipe is that the meringues use egg whites and the curd mostly yolks. Unlike most of my recipes using curds which leave you with a ton of leftover egg whites, this one is mostly balanced. Since I always have leftover egg whites in my freezer from making ice cream and curds it is nice not to keep generating more! Now that I have ventured into the world of making meringue nests they are certainly going to make a regular appearance on my menus.

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Ingredients & Quantities

For the Meringue Nests:

  • 5 egg whites (5 oz), at room temperature
  • 1 cup (7 oz) superfine sugar*
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut or coconut flakes

For the Curd:

  • 1/4 cup finely grated lime zest
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups minus two tablespoons (14 ounces) sugar
  • 4 teaspoons corn starch**
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For Serving:

  • Fresh blackberries
*If you don’t have superfine sugar you can grind regular sugar in the food processor. Measure it by weight or after grinding. **If making this for Passover substitute potato starch instead.

Preparation Instructions

Making the Meringue Nests

Preheat the oven to 350.

Place the coconut on a baking sheet and bake, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about five minutes. Let the coconut cool and turn the oven down to 200.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the whisk attachment. Beat until the egg whites are frothy. Gradually sprinkle in the sugar and beat until the meringue holds almost stiff peaks. Add the vanilla and continue to beat until the meringue holds a stiff peak. Line two cookie sheets with parchment. Transfer the meringue to a large pastry bag fit with a large star tip. Pipe a 2 inch circle on the parchment. Pipe two rings of meringue around the the edge of the circle, one on top of the other, to make the sides of the nests. Repeat with the rest of the meringue. Sprinkle the meringue nests with the coconut.

Bake the meringues for 1 1/2 hours, or until the outsides feel dry to the touch. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in until they are completely cool, at least several hours or overnight. Remove the meringues from the parchment and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. (Can be made up to three days ahead.)

Making the Lime Curd

Place a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl. Set aside.

Combine all the ingredients except the oil in a saucepan. Whisk well to combine. Cook, stirring constantly over medium-heat, until the curd thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and stir in the oil. Place plastic wrap directly over the curd and refrigerate until set. (Can be made up to a week in advance.)

Assembling the Dessert

Fill the centers of the meringue nests with the lime curd. Top each one with a few blackberries. Serve within an hour or so to make sure the meringues stay crispy. (If you prefer softer meringues fill them a few hours in advance.)

Note: There may be a bit of lime curd left over. It is fantastic folded into plain yogurt or spread on toast or matzah.

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