How to Make Meringue Nests



A step-by-step guide to making homemade meringue nests, perfect for making beautiful mini pavlovas.

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A step-by-step guide to making homemade meringue nests, perfect for making beautiful mini pavlovas.

Pavlova is one of my absolute favourite desserts, my Mum used to make strawberry pavlova for special occasions when I was little and I always loved it, there was nothing worse than hoping for seconds (which I always did) and finding that it had all gone!

Nowadays I like to make mini pavlovas, for a couple of reasons. Firstly it stops squabbles over who has the biggest slice, and secondly big pavlovas always look beautiful, piled high with cream and fruit and then you slice them… what had looked so stunning is suddenly more akin to an Eton mess – meringue, cream and fruit in a big (but still yummy) pile. I guess I’m a bit vain when it comes to serving desserts and I like to hand the dishes out still looking pretty, so mini pavlovas are definitely the way to go for me.

A step-by-step guide to making homemade meringue nests, perfect for making beautiful mini pavlovas.

They’re also really simple to make as long as you have an electric mixer (whisking egg whites for meringue really isn’t all that much fun unless you’re after a good arm workout), and a reasonably steady hand for piping the nests before baking them. They also freeze brilliantly so you can always make a big batch and then pop them into the freezer ready for a dessert emergency (they don’t even need defrosting, just add your cream and fruit and you’re ready to go!).

I turned these meringue nests into yummy mini strawberry pavlovas, which I’ll be sharing the recipe for over the next few days.

A step-by-step guide to making homemade meringue nests, perfect for making beautiful mini pavlovas.

How to stop your meringue from cracking

One common problem with meringues is the meringue cracking in the oven and crumbling when you come to remove them from the baking tray. There are a few of tricks you can use to avoid this…

  1. Whisk the egg whites slowly at first until they’re foamy and then only increase the speed to medium. This ensures the air bubbles in the meringue don’t get too big.
  2. Keep the oven temperature low – I cook these at 100ºC/80ºC fan.
  3. Leave the meringues to cool in the oven without opening the door.

You’ll notice a little cracking inside my meringue nests, but they’re all structurally sound 🙂

Another important tip if you’re planning on making these into mini pavlovas is not to fill them with cream too early. The cream soaks into the meringue making it soft, still delicious but much more likely to crumble.

A step-by-step guide to making homemade meringue nests, perfect for making beautiful mini pavlovas.

How to Make Meringue Nests

Active Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes (+ cooling)

Makes 8 meringue nests (easily increased to make as many as you need).

Suitable for freezing and there’s no need to defrost them before using them 🙂

Equipment

  • Electric whisk with bowl
  • Baking tray
  • Greaseproof paper or non-stick baking mat (I love these bake-o-glide sheets and never have a problem with the meringues sticking).
  • Large piping bag with star nozzle (I use a Wilton 2C but anything similar is fine).

A step-by-step guide to making homemade meringue nests, perfect for making beautiful mini pavlovas.

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites (I often use the cartons of egg white so I don’t have to find a use for the leftover yolks, in which case you’d need 70g).
  • 100g caster sugar

Method

If you’ve not made meringue nests before then watch this quick video which will show you how to make the meringue as well as how to pipe the nests…

Make the meringue

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 100ºC/80ºC fan.
  2. Put your 2 egg whites into a large bowl and whisk on a low speed until foamy. Once foamy, increase the speed to medium until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
  3. Add the caster sugar (100g) a tablespoon at a time and whisk until combined. You’ll now have a lovely stiff, glossy meringue.

Pipe the meringue nests

  1. Line your baking tray with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking sheet.
  2. Put you meringue into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
  3. Start by piping a dot in the centre of your meringue nest, then in one continuous motion go around the dot twice to make a bigger circle, and then go around again on top of the outer circle to make the sides.
  4. Repeat until you’ve piped all 8 nests.

Don’t worry if they’re not completely perfect – that’s what makes them look homemade, and you can always cover any mishaps with plenty of cream and fruit 🙂

Bake the meringue nests

  1. Place the meringue nests into the oven and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes.
  2. Once cooked turn off the oven and DON’T open the door. Leave the meringues in the oven until it has cooled completely and then take them out (the slow cooling helps to prevent the nests from cracking). I usually make my meringues in the evening and then leave them to cool overnight.
  3. Remove them from the oven and serve.

A step-by-step guide to making homemade meringue nests, perfect for making beautiful mini pavlovas.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 54 kcal (3%), Fat: 0.0g (0%), Saturated Fat: 0.0g (0%), Carbohydrates: 12.5g (5%), Sugar: 12.5g (14%), Fibre: 0.0g (0%), Protein: 0.9g (2%), Salt: 0.0g (1%)

This is the estimated nutritional information per nest. Please refer to my guide to Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen nutritional information if you want to learn more about how this is calculated.

A step-by-step guide to making homemade meringue nests, perfect for making beautiful mini pavlovas.

Free From/Suitable For

  • Suitable for Vegetarians
  • Corn-Free
  • Dairy-Free
  • Gluten-Free
  • Nut-Free
  • Soy-Free

The ingredients for this recipe are commonly available free from all these allergens. However, please ensure you double-check allergen information for all ingredients.

A step-by-step guide to making homemade meringue nests, perfect for making beautiful mini pavlovas.

20 Comments:

  1. These look lovely, Charlotte! I have made pavlova before but never meringue nests – I will have to give these a try – they make such a fab dessert with very little effort 🙂 Eb x

    • Charlotte Oates

      Thanks Eb, let me know how they go x

      • Hi charlotte why its turn beige color after cooking not white just like what isee in picture

        • Hi Joy. That’s only happened to me when I’ve got the oven temperature up too high. Temperatures can vary from oven to oven so it may be yours is hotter than mine (even if it says the same). Try dropping the temperature by 10 degrees and see if that helps.

  2. A great little tutorial Charlotte! They look perfect! x

  3. Hi
    I love pavlova and Thank you for sharing the recipe. I would like to know for how long are they good for. Thank you

    • Once they’re filled they don’t last long at all as the cream seeps into the meringue. I tend to freeze any that I’ve got left over in an airtight container, simply get them out an hour of so before you want to use them (they don’t need a lot of defrosting) alternatively they should keep for a few days in an airtight container at room temperature.

  4. Hi Charlotte, do you not add a pinch of salt or cream of tartar before adding sugar, also one recipe said to brush melted white chocolate inside the cold nests to stop them going soggy when putting cream in, what do you think?

    • I don’t as I like my meringue nests crisp and a little chewy in the middle but you should do for a “proper” pavlova nest. I haven’t tried the white chocolate trick but it should work to create a watertight barrier between the cream and meringue if you want to fill them in advance. The same trick works for slightly soggy fillings in pastry too.

  5. Thank you for the reply, I’ll let you know how the chocolate trick works

  6. Happy Christmas to you and your loved ones

  7. Hi Charlotte, I would like to make nests approx. 8 cm. across, yours look smaller than that and you cook them for 1hr 45mins, do I cook the larger ones for the same time or do I have to cook them longer, if so how long please

  8. Hi Charlotte,
    Mine look gorgeous – totally thrilled but they feel sticky, not crisp.

    What did I do wrong?

    • Hmmm, I’m not too sure. Mine are always a little sticky/gooey on the inside but should be crisp on the outside. My only thought is that if your oven temperature differs a little from mine then they might need a little longer to dry out properly.

  9. When I make meringue there is always a sugar syrup melting out the bottom why

    • Charlotte Oates

      I’m not too sure as I don’t have the same problem. I googled it to see what came up and it suggested that perhaps the sugar hadn’t fully dissolved into the egg whites. This could happen if each addition of sugar hasn’t been mixed in thoroughly to the egg white before the next addition. Another suggestion was if the oven was too hot, ovens can vary in temperature (which I think is daft but it seems quite common). If your oven is naturally a little hotter than mine then that might explain it, you could try dropping the temperate by 5 degrees to see if that helps.

  10. I was handwhisking it and it worked just fine. It was all foamy and beginning to peak when my sister brought in the electric whisk. After we electric whisked it it just went into a liquid as if we’d not mixed it at all and no amount of whisking could get it back to foam.
    Any ideas why???

    • Charlotte Oates

      Was the electric whisk 100% clean and dry? Any liquid added to egg whites can stop them whisking up nicely. Alternatively was there a gap in time between whisking the whites by hand and trying with the electric whisk? Once egg whites have been whisked they will start to collapse if the sugar isn’t then whisked in.

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