It was time to return to France before I put on weight. We certainly had our fill of our Scottish favourites while visiting family with Lucas’ ice cream, Tunnocks Teacakes, baked potatoes, cheese scones, Stornoway black pudding and tons of hot smoked salmon.
Back home, as Spring has sprung later this year, we luckily hadn’t missed our traditional French muguet, or Lily-of-the-valley, which is traditionally given to family and friends as a good luck symbol. It was a week late in our garden. Brilliant!
Not so brilliant was that I (known in the family as ‘the French Police’) had returned to the kitchen. I’d forgotten that it wasn’t just a public holiday on our arrival on Wednesday, but also yesterday too. Shops? Fermé. Shut. But I somehow get a kick out of using up leftovers in the fridge, since Antoine (French hubby) had left most of the fruit he was supposed to eat while we were away. To my surprise, they were still ok but not exactly bursting with flavour.
There were 3 lemons, 5 strawberries, 2 kiwis and a tired pineapple just looking for a tasty makeover. So I defrosted a jam jar of egg whites from the freezer while thinking up this lemon cream meringue nest dessert, filled with a zingy lemon cream and topped with the fruits. The slightly tired strawberries were resurrected by tossing them in some good quality strawberry syrup. Et voilà! You thought I was going to make macarons, didn’t you?
Lemon Cream Meringue Nests (Gluten Free)
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour + 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 1 hour
2 egg whites (about 75g)
few drops vanilla essence
1. Whisk the egg whites at high speed using a hand or stand mixer. Gradually rain in the sugar while continuing to whisk, adding the essence last, until the mixture is firm and glossy. It should form a peak (or bird’s beak, bec de l’oiseau) on the whisk.
2. Spoon out 4 large heaps of the meringue on to a baking sheet lined with baking paper. Press them down and scoop out a cavity that you can fill later.
3. Bake for 1 hour at 110°C. Meanwhile, make the lemon cream.
Crème au citron (Lemon Cream)
3 egg yolks
3 lemons (untreated)
knob of butter (unsalted)
4. Whisk together the yolks and sugar in a saucepan. Add the cornflour, zest and lemon juice then the water. Mix together well.
5. Over a medium heat, whisk until the cream thickens then take off the heat and mix in the butter. Set aside to cool.
6. When the meringues are ready, leave to cool then spoon in the lemon cream into each meringue nest and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Just before serving, top with a mixture of fruits. Just look what my daughters put together for the decoration. Lucie loves pineapple – you can tell by this double decker! I love leftovers. Now, I best get to the shops before mint meringues pops on the menu for our main course!
At least this means I’ve got more egg whites on the go for making macarons soon.
Happy sunny May time!
P.S. As with all my recipes, I use grams. Please don’t be mad, ounces lovers. However, if you’re mad about macarons, you’ll need digital kitchen scales – much more reliable to bake in weight rather than volume. Most digital scales have the option of switching from ounces to grams so this will make your life much easier.