Hello Two Thousand and Twenty! A new year, a new decade! I don’t know about you, but I woke up on New Year’s day feeling great! (Despite staying up later than anticipated.) I generally don’t get terribly excited about a new year, because really, it’s just a new day, another date on the calendar. But, 2019 was a long year. Incredibly difficult at times for various reasons. So, I think that’s why I am happy to see it gone. Plus, I have a lot of new things that I have great ideas for this year. If you can’t tell, I am pretty excited. I have been taking a mini break from blogging/baking after baking SO MUCH throughout December. I want to approach this whole blogging thing a little differently this year I think. At the very least, I really need to plan ahead better. Something that I struggle with when all the other aspects of my life are very full. But, here’s to high hopes and good times!
So let’s start this year off with a bang! I hope that you’re not completely sick of baked, sweet goodies. I don’t really do a January thing like a lot of people do, I just try to eat healthy year round anyway. So for all of you not doing a cleanse or diet, this recipe is for you right now. If you are doing a cleanse or diet, bookmark this and save it for when you really need a sweet kick. Because dannngg. This is SO worth it.
These meringues are actually something that I wanted to make all December, but never got around to. Cranberries are still fully in stock at the stores, so I thought that it would still be appropriate to share. This dessert has moved into my top 5 slot. I mean, I adore meringues as it is, but this combination put them over the top. Meringues are wonderfully versatile, because you can serve them with basically any of your favorite fruit, any time of the year. They make an easy dessert in that sense, because they aren’t subjected to one season.
This particular recipe has a wonderful do-head addition. If you’ve ever made meringues, you know how you cannot make them up ahead of time, because the meringue will get soggy and lose that beautiful crunch they are known for. The trick is to brush them with melted white chocolate! It provides a barrier between the meringue and whipped cream/fruit. It’s truly amazing. It even made the meringue’s last longer when stored at room temperature.
So, now that you know this little trick, let’s talk about the make up of these beauties. The meringues are made per usual, but they are topped with an orange whipped cream that has been swirled with cranberry sauce. Because that isn’t quite enough, a dollop of cranberry sauce is spooned over the whipped cream, then topped with sugared cranberries, pomegranate arils and fresh blueberries. Oh my. Need I say anymore, really? These make a wonderful dessert for guests. You also can use whatever fresh fruit you have on hand. Any sort of berry would be excellent. Or, omit the berries and stick to just the sweet/tart cranberries. Any way you decide to make these, you and your guests will love them.
⟶ Cranberries no longer in season? Substitute available fresh berries or stone fruit.
⟶ The meringues do take time to dry in the oven, so be sure to plan accordingly with time.
⟶ Be sure to whip your egg whites enough, otherwise the meringues will fall flat when baked. You want stiff peaks that hold when you dip your whisk in the meringue, then hole right side up. It’s all about how much air is incorporated into the meringue.
⟶ If you want small meringues to serve with the dessert, place 3/4 of the meringue in one pastry bag fitted with a plain or star tip, then the remaining 1/4 in another pastry bag fitted with a decorative or plain tip. Pipe small rounds or stars on a baking sheet with the meringue nests and cook the same amount of time.
Recipe adapted from Emma Duckworth Bakes
Cranberry Meringue Nests
A beautiful, sweet dessert that is perfect for every occasion. With fresh, seasonal fruit and a make-ahead option, this makes the perfect dessert for guests.
For the meringue
- 6 large egg whites
- 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
For the sugared cranberries
- 3/4 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup, plus 3 Tablespoons sugar, divided
For the toppings
- 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- cranberry sauce
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- zest of 1/2 orange
- pomegranate arils and fresh blueberries
- Preheat the oven to 275ºF and place racks in upper and lower third of your oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside. Fit a large pipping bag with a large round or closed star attachment and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer running, sprinkle in the sugar, about a tablespoon at a time, and beat on high speed until the meringue holds stiff peaks and the mixture doesn’t feel gritty when rubbed between your fingers, 5-8 minutes. Transfer the meringue to the prepared pastry bag.
- Pipe the meringue in circles by creating a large circle for the bottom, then piping around the sides to create a “nest”. Continue until all the meringue is gone, ensuring the nests are roughly the same size.
- Place in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 250ºF. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meringues are dry. Leaving the trays in the oven, turn off the heat and let the meringues cool in the oven with the door closed, about an hour.
- Meanwhile, make the sugared cranberries by pouring the water and 1/2 cup sugar into a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking often, until the sugar has dissolved. Turn off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Place the cranberries in a bowl and pour the sugar syrup over them, stirring to coat. Let soak for 1 1/2 hours. Drain the cranberries and toss in the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Once the meringues have cooled, melt the white chocolate in a small bowl set over barely simmering water, stirring constantly until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the melted chocolate over and in the meringues to create a protective barrier from the whipped cream. Set aside to allow the chocolate to harden.
- When ready to serve, whip the heavy cream and orange zest into soft peaks with a stand mixer or hand held mixer. Fold in 1/4 cup cranberry sauce.
- To assemble, dollop whipped cream in each nest, top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce, sugared cranberries, pomegranate arils and fresh berries. Place a orange zest sliver on the top, if desired. Serve within an hour or two.
- Store meringues in an air tight container at room temperature up to a week, assembling when ready to serve within a few hours.