Sunday, March 21, 2010

meringue nests: great for passover!

Passover is coming! Next Monday night is the first seder, and thus begins a week of eating no chametz (breads, grains, or other delicious leavened stuff we eat year-round). I'll be first to admit that with a few tried-and-true exceptions, Passover desserts leave a lot to be desired. Meringues are one of the exceptions; they are delicious and, if made correctly, should be pesadicah. For example, powdered sugar is not kosher for Passover because it contains cornstarch, so you'll want to find a recipe that calls for only granulated sugar, or experiment with adapting a recipe. (Note: I am not the authority on kosher for Passover rules beyond the basics, so if you have any concerns, check with a higher authority before taking my word for it.)

I made these double vanilla meringues as part of a dessert tray for a party. My friend Jason suggested meringue nests, filled with jam and fruit. I'd never made them this way but figured piping a round meringue nest couldn't be much more difficult than piping stars, which is how I usually make them. They came out really cute! The dab of strawberry jam and quarter of a strawberry provided just the right fruit-to-cookie ratio. After a meal full of matzah in various forms, a nice, light bite of dessert might be a perfect way to end the seder. Before the afikomen, that is!

Double Vanilla Meringues
(Makes 5 dozen stars or approximately 3 dozen nests.)
Note: Recipe as written contains powdered sugar; try substituting with homemade KFP powdered sugar, which uses granulated sugar and potato starch

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 225F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean. You can use the rest of the bean to make vanilla sugar - just place it in a jar, cover with sugar, and close the jar. Delicious!

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar and then powdered sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla seeds and vanilla extract and beat until just blended. It will be a pretty off-white color.

Spoon batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Pipe stars onto baking sheets. To make nests, I piped a circle starting in the center and piped a second layer around the edge, giving the nest a raised edge.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn oven off and let meringues cool in the closed oven for 1 1/2 hours or until dry. Carefully remove from the parchment. If you've made nests, fill them with a dab of jam and a small berry or piece of fruit. Any flavor combo will do!


Anonymous said...

Meringues are my favorite of favorite things. I don't need a nest, I need a hat. One as big as my head, YUM.

The Food Librarian said...

Yum! These look delicious and soooo beautiful. Love the incorporation of seasonal CA strawberries.

I need to get me some matzo for matzah brei. - mary

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, they now have confectioner's sugar, (mock) for Passover, as you mentioned, later in your post.

They have almost everything although I don't use everything.

Thanks for the recipe. For next year.

Anonymous said...

How long will these stay good for?

Jami said...

They should last at least a week, particularly if there's not a lot of moisture in the air. The worst that would happen is that they would go from being dry/crisp to being a little chewy - it's not that they would spoil. I would put them in an airtight container at room temp.