Okay, so I realize this recipe may be a bit late. Easter has come and gone. Still, I wanted to show you guys what I made. And hey, leave the chocolate eggs off these cute little meringue nests and you still have a killer spring dessert!
Crisp meringue, homemade orange curd and fresh fruit: it’s a golden combination any time of year!
So yeah, an Easter recipe on the 7th of March. Because that’s how I roll (aka: I’m always late with everything). No seriously, an Easter recipe on the 7th of March because it’s simply a delicious dessert recipe and really all that’s Eastery about it is the eggs. So just pretend the eggs aren’t there and I’m presenting this cute little dessert as a gorgeous dessert to celebrate spring.
It all starts with homemade orange curd.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with orange curd, let me just point out the obvious here: it’s the same as lemon curd, but it’s made with orange juice instead of lemon juice… I warned you it was going to be obvious.
What you may not know is that orange (or lemon) curd is a custard made with juice instead of the regular cream or milk. There’s also a splash of cream in this recipe, because it makes the orange curd… you guessed it: creamy.
Add a few tablespoons of unsalted butter and you’ve got yourself a delicious, creamy, velvety orange curd. There’s also a recipe on my blog for sticky orange curd, which tastes just like orange candies, but this one is a bit more subtle.
For these nests, I first made a French meringue by heating granulated sugar in the oven until hot and beating it into some egg whites that I had already whipped to soft peaks. I then used a piping bag to pipe little nests, but you could of course just use a spoon and plop dollops of meringue onto a lined baking sheet. Make a well in the middle for the filling and you’re done.
Anyway, once the meringues were in the oven, I cooked up the orange curd and allowed it to cool. Once the curd and meringue nests had both cooled, I folded the orange curd into a big bowl of whipped cream – because cream makes everything better – and spooned the filling into the nest.
I loved the combination of the orange curd and redcurrants, by the way! But I bet strawberries or raspberries would be amazing as well.
Unless you’re into soggy meringue, of course…
- 180g (or ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon) granulated sugar
- 3 large egg whites (about ⅓ cup + 4 teaspoons in total)
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 90ml (or ⅓ cup + 2 teaspoons) heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (from 2 large oranges)
- 120ml (or ½ cup) freshly squeezed orange juice (from the same 2 oranges)
- 100g (or ½ cup) granulated sugar, divided
- 6 large egg yolks
- 90g (or ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon) cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 480ml (or 2 cups) heavy whipping cream
- granulated sugar to taste
- fresh fruit, such as redcurrants or strawberries
- chocolate eggs
- Preheat oven to 390°F (standard oven setting) and adjust oven rack to middle position. Line a deep baking sheet with baking parchment.
- Pour the sugar onto the lined baking sheet and bake for 3-5 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to melt.
- While the sugar is in the oven, add the egg whites to a medium-sized bowl. Make sure both the bowl and the mixer's whisk attachments are completely free of any grease.
- Beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks.
- By now, the sugar should be ready. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 210°F.
- Add the hot sugar to the egg whites one spoonful at a time, mixing continuously. Once all the sugar has been added, keep mixing until the meringue holds stiff peaks and you no longer feel sugar crystals when you rub a bit of meringue between your fingers (this should take about 5-8 minutes).
- Add the vanilla and mix briefly to make sure the meringue still holds stiff peaks. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and line a baking sheet with baking parchment, using a dollop of meringue to stick the parchment to the sheet.
- Pipe 6-8 nests. First, pipe a 3-inch round spiral base, then pipe two to three circles on top of the outer edge of the base, spiraling upwards to create an edge of meringue.
- Bake the meringue nests for 2½ to 4 hours, depending on the humidity. The resulting meringues should be light, crisp and you should be able to easily remove them from the baking parchment. When tapped, they should sound hollow. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Combine the cream, zest, juice and half the sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the remaining sugar and the yolks until foamy. Place a fine-meshed strainer over another medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture reaches scalding point, remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully drizzle the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking the yolk mixture continuously to prevent the yolks from scrambling.
- Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over low heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. After 5-10 minutes, the foam will dissipate and the mixture will thicken so it coats the back of a spoon. If you’re using a sugar thermometer, it will register about 165°F at this point.
- Take the pan off the heat and immediately pour the orange curd through the strainer into the prepared bowl. Using a clean whisk, whisk in the cold butter, a few cubes at a time. Once the orange curd is smooth, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto its surface to prevent a skin from forming and allow to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, whip the cream with sugar to taste until it holds stiff peaks. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the orange curd into the cream, creating a swirl effect.
- Right before serving, spoon the orange curd cream into the meringue nests, add a few chocolate eggs and some fresh fruit, such as redcurrants or other berries, and serve immediately.
- You may have some leftover filling. Serve it alongside the filled nest, so your guest can help themselves to more.
- Meringue nests can be made up to 5 days ahead. Store them in an airtight container until needed. Orange curd can also be made up to 5 days ahead. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed.