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Meringue Nests with Basil Scented Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

by Emily on April 3, 2013

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I need to tell you that I am currently in the middle of a little love affair with meringue. There is something so mysterious about the fact that egg whites and sugar can be whipped up into ethereal clouds of absolute delight. The crispy and airy, yet slightly chewy qualities of meringue have me completely smitten.

I’ve even gone as far as trolling Pinterest for the most beautiful meringue creations that I can find. It doesn’t matter if they’re tiny cookies, mini meringue shells or large elaborate pavlovas; I love them all.

While I’ve made meringue cookies on several occasions, I’ve never made a large, layered pavlova, but it is definitely a baking goal of mine. In order to warm up and stretch my meringue muscles, I thought I would start by baking some Meringue Nests with Basil Scented Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote. These individual meringues are light and crispy shells topped with syrupy fruit and finished off with a dollop of sweet whipped cream. Whipped cream seems to make everything better, right?

The addition of basil to this Spring inspired strawberry-rhubarb compote is a continuation of my herb kick that started a few months ago with my Rosemary Lemon Shortbread Cookies. I’m happy to report that the herb kick is still going strong – especially thanks to all of your fabulous herb-pairing suggestions! You guys are the best!

These airy meringue nests make a perfect dessert for any Spring meal. Not too heavy, but extremely satisfying in the sweet tooth department. Plus, the strawberries and rhubarb are a classic combination that is only enhanced by the surprisingly delightful presence of the basil. Although, I would pretty much eat anything if it was served in a sweet little meringue shell. Just saying.
What’s your favorite way to eat meringue?


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Meringue Nests with Basil Scented Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

April 3rd, 2013

Yield: 8

Ingredients:

For the Nests:

3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

For the Basil Scented Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

1/2 lb strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered + ½ cup of strawberries, rinsed, hulled and chopped
1/2 lb of rhubarb
2 Tablespoons of honey
1 Tablespoon of water
3-4 whole basil leaves

For the Whipped Cream

1/2 cup of heavy cream
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 275°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Place egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar (about 1 Tablespoon at a time) and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Using a spoon, drop eight dollops of meringue onto prepared baking sheet. Use the back of your spoon to create a well in each ‘nest’. Nests should be around 3-4 inches wide. You can alternately transfer meringue mixture to a piping bag and pipe the nests, making sure that the bottom is a solid circle so that the filling won't leak out later.

Bake the nests for 45-50 minutes or until they are totally set and dry. Leaving the oven door closed, turn off the oven and allow meringues to sit in the oven for an additional 1 hour.

In the meantime, place rhubarb, 1/2 lb of the strawberries, water, basil and honey in a small sauce pan set over medium heat. Bring mixture to a gentle boil and reduce to a simmer. Allow mixture to cook, stirring occasionally, until fruit is soft and syrupy, about 15 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and discard basil leaves. Stir in the reserved ½ cup of chopped strawberries and allow mixture to cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and beat until cream is thick and fluffy. Be careful not to over beat or you'll end up with butter.

Top each meringue nest with several spoonfuls of compote and whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Notes:

- If making the meringue nests head of time, store unfilled nests in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
- The Strawberry-Rhubarb compote can also be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
- Extra compote is delicious over a bowl of Greek yogurt or oatmeal.

Meringue Nests Adapted from Taste of Home

About Emily

Emily is the cook, baker, photographer and rambler behind the blog, Jelly Toast. Aside from taking photos of everything she eats, her days are spent being a short order cook, story teller, tea party guest and giver-of-snuggles to her two kiddos. She has not yet mastered the clean-as-you-go cooking style, but has high hopes for the future.


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Mr. & Mrs. P April 3, 2013 at 7:34 pm

We just love meringues!!! The compote is a perfect topping to the crunchy texture of the meringue!!

Reply

Tieghan April 3, 2013 at 10:35 pm

This is just simply beautiful!

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Nash April 3, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Without joking, those are looking amazingly awesome…. yummmy

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ThisBakerGirlBlogs April 4, 2013 at 2:53 am

Meringue and strawberries – perfection :-)

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Grace W April 4, 2013 at 7:04 am

my oh my…these look heavenly! I haven’t had a meringue in ages, but looks like i will soon :)

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Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers April 4, 2013 at 10:44 am

I love meringue and the additional of the strawberries and basil, must be amazing! I love these and they are so beautiful!

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Karen Ortega April 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Hi Emily,

You must be my long-lost twin as my favorite dessert is pavlova! I first tried it while I was in New Zealand several years ago and have tried versions while back here (Jamie Oliver’s, Ina Garten’s version) but never consistent. I recently found a recipe for Mostachon which I discovered while watching Mexican Made Easy. It’s egg whites whipped to fluffy peaks and you add crushed Maria cookies and chopped nuts. Traditionally you add walnuts but I used toasted pecans instead. It has the perfect balance of crispy shell with chewy center that is heavenly. It’s topped with a creamy cheese whipped with powdered sugar and sour cream and topped with sliced strawberries. Yum! As a fellow meringue fanatic, I thought I would share this recent find. Later, sista!

Reply

Emily April 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm

These ideas are amazing, Karen! Thank you so much! I will definitely be trying them next time I whip up some meringue. Which will probably be soon :)
~Emily

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Deb April 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Evocative of spring itself, an ethereal dessert! The clouds of meringue with strawberries and rhubarb is charming!

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Orna April 4, 2013 at 8:29 pm

These look gorgeous! I recently posted Meringue Cookies that everyone is raving about. Given your current meringue obsession you should check them out!
http://ornabakes.com/recipe/mario-batalis-brutti-ma-buoni-cookies-perfect-for-passover-gluten-free/

Let me know what you think!

Best,

Orna

Reply

Emily April 5, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for the recipe, Orna! I love how you used slivered almonds in yours. Perfection! I will definitely be trying your recipe soon :)

~Emily

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Rachel @ The Pescetarian and the Pig April 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm

These look absolutely lovely! I have yet to try to bake meringues myself, but I buy the tubs of them at Trader Joe’s (yuuummm). My mom makes an outstanding Pavlova… perhaps I should give these nests a try :)

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Rosie @ Blueberry Kitchen April 5, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Your meringue nests look absolutely perfect and they sound so delicious!

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angeles payan lopez April 6, 2013 at 7:20 pm

ummmmmmm, me comería uno ahora…que idea…increible…me encanta el merengue, crujiente por fuera y blandito por dentro…el relleno…geniales

eltealastres.blogspot.com.es

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Alessandra April 8, 2013 at 6:24 pm

These look so yum!

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Lisa Z. @ www.culinarybitesbylisa.com April 9, 2013 at 10:29 am

I made your compote yesterday and used it for a souffle. It was really good!! Beautiful pictures too!!

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Emily April 14, 2013 at 3:47 pm

That’s a great idea, Lisa! I’m so glad you were pleased with the recipe and that it worked well for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and comment! Have a wonderful weekend!
~Emily

Reply

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