We made these airy meringues topped with creamy filling and fresh fruit for dessert at breakfast. A perfect winter dessert, a hint of spring in a snowy shell.
1 cup superfine sugar
2 tablespoons superfine sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
4 eggs room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whipping cream
Preheat oven to 300 degrees and place rack in middle position. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet. (You can also cut open brown lunch bags and smooth them flat on a baking sheet.)
Whisk together sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Separate eggs and set yolks aside.
In a large mixing bowl on medium-high speed, whisk egg whites with cream of tarter and salt until the beater leaves softs tracks in the foam. Begin adding sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time, gradually, but steadily. Once the sugar has been incorporated, add the vanilla and increase the speed to high until the meringue looks glossy and holds a stiff peak when the beater is lifted.
Drop a large spoonful of meringue onto the parchment paper and shape into a circle with a slightly depressed center. Repeat with the remaining meringue to make 8 (3-inch) shells. Or place meringue in a large pastry bag with a fluted tip and pipe 8 nests onto the paper, working from the center and raising the sides.
Place in the oven. Reduce heat to 200 degrees. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave meringues inside to cool completely, another 3 hours, or overnight.
To serve, whip cream. Place a spoonful of lemon curd in each shell, then top with whipped cream and fruit. You can substitute any flavor of sherbet for the lemon curd. My meringue was a bit too soft so I ended up with more of a meringue patty than shell. But no worries, I just piped the cream around the edge and filled that with the fruit.
Hint: Mango can be slippery to slice, so try this: Cut along each side of the large seed, then score each half. “Bending” it inside out lets you slice off the fruit easily.
Adapted from article in the StarTribune February 24, 2011.