What can you make with your 11-year-old niece as an interesting baking experiment that’s delicious, potentially healthy and not too complicated? You’ll have guessed from the heading: a meringue nest buffet! 🙂 Last week this lovely new concept catered for all my family’s needs, leaving everyone delighted with dessert! Some warned they’d avoid the sugary and dairy elements but were later found tucking into whipped cream, sorbet, lemon curd and one or two apparently irresistible home-baked meringue nests, which were declared delicious and not that sweet. Surprisingly it still felt like a healthy dessert with plenty of fruit, nuts, grated dark chocolate and lime zest. It was also a fun and sociable whirlwind of activity! 🙂The planning Here’s the mindmap my niece and I used to plan our meringue nest buffet (sometimes my English teacher side emerges). Having had less inspiring experiences with maps and charts at school, my niece wasn’t keen at first but then said this one was fun! Hmm, planning an essay or a buffet, which is more enjoyable?! To be honest my memory’s not what it used to be so I wanted the map as a reminder of what to buy and lay out on the table! 🙂 We also drew up a shopping list for our supermarket trip. We didn’t find lychees so got a pomegranate instead and eventually decided against the sweet caramel ice-cream, pecans, banana and ginger combination. Next time! 🙂 That’s the great thing with this buffet, you can go where your mood and stomach take you. Meringue nests We bought some meringue nests in case ours were a disaster or extra ones were required. Also good if you’d like a no-bake dessert option. Actually we made very few meringue nests as not many family members wanted any … ? Ahem! We ran out and had to start on the shop-bought ones. Maybe we shouldn’t take toooo much notice of family protestations beginning with the phrase ‘I’m not going to eat any … ‘. 🙂 We followed my recipe for Ispahan meringue nests (click for the link) making just seven. With no piping bag or nozzle we improvised using small freezer bags with a corner cut off! Not ideal and pretty messy but it kind of works! You can see where one prototype failed and got scraped off. My niece enjoyed making the nests. We both struggled a bit with the rotary handwhisk but our arms got less tired. We happily finished off the meringue with a proper handwhisk and did the upside-down bowl test over my niece’s head for fun. It didn’t fall and become her new shampoo. We were aiming for a slightly chewy centre but next time could use a nozzle and disposable piping bag to make them slightly thinner and crisper. My two nephews said the shop-bought meringue nests were lighter in texture, and they do crumble well with toppings. But the adults loved our home-made ones and said they were really good! Homemade meringues taste better but if you’re in a rush the shop-bought ones are great too! I find the whole ‘which meringue nests to have?’ dilemna is sorted by having both kinds! And if they get mashed up it becomes an Eaton Mess buffet! 🙂 So there you go, a meringue nest buffet for the whole family! Woohoo! I would have taken more photos of the meringue nest creations we concocted but we got carried away eating them. This is the only nest I managed to immortalise!
Think it would be nice to carry the buffet over to share at this week’s exciting Fiesta Friday party, hosted as usual by Angie@thenovicegardener and co-host Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau. I’ll put some jars in the backpack and sort out bags for the delicate stuff!
Have a lovely weekend sweet reader and may you have a wonderful mix of sweetness, tastiness and healthy stuff! Happy eating, baking or non-baking! 🙂