Gay Cook’s meringue shells with lemon curd and crushed strawberries

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Makes 4 – 6 servings

This is a colourful spring-like dessert for Easter with meringue nests filled with lemon curd on crushed strawberries. The lemon curd can be replaced with chocolate and vanilla ice cream scoops to look like Easter eggs. Imported fresh strawberries are available this time of year but lack tenderness and sweetness compared to our local June strawberries but frozen chopped unsweetened strawberries do the trick. During our peak strawberry season I like to coarsely chop fresh strawberries in a food processor, place them in zip-lock bags and freeze. These strawberries are delicious throughout the rest of the year.

4 – 6 meringue shells plus 2 dozen chocolate chip meringue cookies*
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) lemon curd, homemade or purchased
2 cups (500 mL) chopped fresh or defrosted strawberries

Meringue shells
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch salt
½ tsp (2 mL) baking powder
½ tsp water
½ tsp white vinegar
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
½ tsp (2 mL) vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 225°F (110°C). Line 1 or 2 baking sheet with parchment sheets. Use water glass or cup to draw 4 – 6 3-inch (7.5 cm) circles on the underside of the sheets – invert sheets on baking sheet so the circles can show though so the markings do not show on the white meringues.

2. Use electric mixer with whisk beater to beat the egg whites on medium-high speed or use a metal bowl with a balloon whisk. When whites are frothy, keep beating while adding salt, baking powder, water and vinegar. Continue to beat then slowly sprinkle in the sugar, small spoonful at a time beating well between additions until meringue it very firm.

3. Use two spoons, to mound the meringue in the circles and make a well in the centres to form nests. Bake for 1½ hours until crisp and still white. Turn off heat keeping the door closed and leave the meringues at least 6 – hours or overnight in the oven.

4. To serve, place enough chopped strawberries to just cover inside frame of dessert plate. Place meringue in the centre of the plate. Spoon and mound in lemon cure; garnish top with a small amount of chopped strawberries and add a mint leaf if available.

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