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.
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.
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…
- 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.
- Keep the oven temperature low – I cook these at 100ºC/80ºC fan.
- 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.
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 🙂
- 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).
- 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
Make the meringue
- Pre-heat your oven to 100ºC/80ºC fan.
- 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.
- 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
- Line your baking tray with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking sheet.
- Put you meringue into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle.
- 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.
- Repeat until you’ve piped all 8 nests.
It’s not all that easy to describe how to pipe the nests so I made this little video to show you the piping motion too. It’s only 7 seconds long so worth a little look…
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
- Place the meringue nests into the oven and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes.
- Once cooked turn off the oven and DON’T open the door. Leave the meringues in the oven until it has cooked 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.
- Remove them from the oven and serve.
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.
Free From/Suitable For
- Suitable for Vegetarians
The ingredients for this recipe are commonly available free from all these allergens. However, please ensure you double-check allergen information for all ingredients.