This is Bertie. I chose him to illustrate a point in a presentation I gave at last week's South African Food and Wine Bloggers' Indaba.
Not satisfied to appear on just one Power Point slide, he insinuated himself into a whole lot more, while making impertinent comments about my speech. I was quite surprised by how much hilarity Bertie caused at the conference, and so I've decided to dedicate this recipe to him. (Bertie comes, by the way, from this photo archive; I've been unable to find an email address for the owner of the album so I can thank him).
These meringue nests are not made by me. I have a disastrous history with regular meringues, let alone beautiful little pure-white cups like the one in the picture. I buy them, plus pavlova cases and baby meringues, from my local Spar.
This filling, though lemony-sharp, is scandalously rich and unctuous. If you'd like a (slightly) lighter result, use whipped cream, or even thick Greek yoghurt. (What's that? Oh, Bertie says, 'No use yoghurt.' Shush, Bertie.) If you don't fancy meringues, use this mixture to make a layered loaf 'cake' using vanilla wafers, and place it in the freezer for an hour or so before slicing.
I used frozen raspberries (which I love) to cut the sweetness of the filling and meringue, but this would also be good topped with Cape gooseberries, or some flaked, toasted almonds.
It helps to have a sugar thermometer when you are making lemon curd, but it's not essential.
The easy lemon curd recipe below is adapted from Preserved by Nick Sandler and Johnny Acton, my favourite book on the subject of jams, pickles and other preserved food.
Bertie's Lemon Curd and Mascarpone Meringues, with Raspberries
For the lemon curd:
2 large lemons, washed
2 large eggs
200 ml caster sugar
1 T (15 ml) cornflour [cornstarch]
140 g (140 ml) unsalted butter
1 tub (250 ml) mascarpone
8 meringue nests
Fresh or frozen raspberries, or similar
Using a microplane or fine grater, finely zest the lemons, taking care not to take off any white pith. Squeeze the lemon juice into a heavy-based saucepan and add the zest, eggs, sugar and cornflour. Whisk the mixture for a minute, until smooth but not frothy. Cut the butter into little pieces and add it to the pan. Heat the mixture over a gentle flame, stirring constantly. After the butter melts, the mixture will take three or four minutes to thicken, depending on the heat of your stove.
If you have a sugar thermometer, the curd will begin to thicken as it reaches 70ºC. Allow the curd to cook for another minute after it's thickened, then remove from the heat. (If you don't have a thermometer, you'll have to go by texture: the curd is ready once it's just thickened, and has a velvety consistency. Remember, it will thicken more as it cools.)
Place a piece of clingfilm or a disc of waxed paper onto the surface of the curd and allow to cool.
Put the mascarpone in a bowl and beat with a whisk until smooth. (Or whip the cream, if you're using that instead). Fold one cup (250 ml) of the cooled curd into the mascarpone and mix until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the meringue nests, arrange the raspberries on top and dust with a little icing sugar. Serve immediately. Please don't put a mint leaf on top.
Makes enough to fill 8-10 meringue nests.
Note: If anyone would like a copy of the editorial style sheet, recommended reading list and Food Writers' Workshop notes I handed out at the conference, please email me (hobray at gmail.com). Print Friendly