Easter dessert: fruit nests

4 eggwhites
2 cups white sugar
5mL vanilla essence

Creme Anglaise:
4 egg yolks
240mL whole milk
10mL vanilla essence
50g sugar

Assorted frozen and fresh fruit, defrosted and cut into tiny bits. I used pineapple, mango, peaches, strawberries, and an apple.

Whipped cream, sweetened – I got lazy here and bought the canned stuff.

For the meringue nests, beat the daylights out of the egg whites while adding in the sugar slowly.
Add the vanilla towards the end.
I tend to put a tiny bit of baking soda in mine too for extra fluff.
Make sure there is no trace of yolk or water near your whites, your bowl, or even the beaters, and be prepared to stand at the counter with the beaters for a good 15 minutes.

To create the nests, I piped (simply using a large plastic bag with the corner snipped off) the meringue over an upside down mini muffin tin.
They baked for about 3 hours at 200°F with the door slightly ajar.
The little nests popped off the back of the “molds” surprisingly easily.
Obviously, this part needs to be made well in advance of serving as it takes lots of time. I made mine a couple of days ago.

Then on to the custard.
To use up the yolks, simply combine all the creme anglaise ingredients in a glass bowl, set it over a shallow pot of lightly boiling water (a double boiler) and whisk continuously until it thickens.
Again, this is a job that needs your attention – you can’t leave it.
And it takes at least 20 minutes at a slow boil.
If you rush it or don’t whisk the whole time, the eggs will scramble and you’ll basically end up with an omelette floating in sweet milk – not appetizing!
Once this is thickened and cooled on the counter, it can wait in the fridge until serving time too.

To serve, scoop a couple of spoonfuls of the custard into a small plate.
Then fill each nest with fruit and lay it into the custard.
Add extra fruit so that it looks like it’s spilling over.
Then get a good dollop (me in my lazy case, a squirt) of whipped cream on the side, and voila: Easter meringue nests with fruit on a bed of creme anglaise.
Oh, with whipped cream! It’s so light and delicious, and not too sweet to end a big Easter meal.
You’ll have lots of meringues left over, by the way.
I made 8 desserts out of this when the custard and fruit ran out, but we will have lots of meringues to go with our Easter chocolate for the next little while…

Source: made it up
Prepared, tried and tested by: Corlea Smit

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