meringue nest with strawberry sauce

I just ate about 6 peppermint Hershey kisses. Before that, I ate a rice cake smeared with nutella. My chocolate sweet tooth is rearing it's ugly head right now.

I think it's really easy to make a chocolate dessert or maybe something that is like that. Chocolate cake, apple charlotte,  strawberry shortcake .... all great desserts. But, not in line with the "healthier" direction that I received from Baby Sister for this dinner.

The meringue nest recipe was actually something I tagged way back in the beginning of Downton Abbey dinners. But, it slowly got passed by week after week in favor of something else amazing. This week was a great week for it to finally appear on the menu.

Plus, given the flavors of the rest of the meal, the light meringue was perfect. A chocolate cake would have been weird. Maybe not.

If you've read some of my other recipes, you'll perhaps remember my fear of whipped egg whites. Whipping egg whites gives me anxiety. Have I whipped too much? Have I not whipped enough? Is this too much sugar? But, given my previous experiences with chocolate mousse, angel food cake, or the almond chocolate cake ... it was a surprise to me that making meringue was easy peasy. No stress.

It seems a little simple to close out such a run of crazy great meals with a simple dessert like this. But, it was great. I'll definitely make these suckers again and I believe they are great for a party or some other event when you'd want to do prep in advance.

p.s. while I liked the orange zest ... I could have also done without it. My recommendation? skip the zest in the meringue ... just put it on top for decor and being fancy.

Now, here's how it goes.

(Step 1) Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 200°F with rack in middle.

(Step 2) Beat egg whites, lemon juice and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. 

(Step 3) Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time until meringue is stiff and glossy, 2 to 3 minutes. Trust me. I stopped about twice and was like ... am I done? Then I went a little further. You'll know when you are done. I mean LOOK AT THOSE PEAKS!
(Step 4) Divide meringue mixture on the parchment, and spread with the back of a spoon making a slight indentation in center of each meringue to make a nest. 
(Step 5) Bake until meringues are dry to the touch, 2 to 3 hours. Turn off oven and let meringues cool completely. (Meringues will crisp as they cool.) 

(Step 6) My meringues peeled off really easy ... but you might need to loosen yours with a spatula. 

(Step 7) Strawberry sauce time. Purée strawberries with sugar and lemon juice in a food processor. The recipe I was going from suggested you force the mixture through a sieve to remove the seeds and other stuff. I skipped this step because I kind of liked the texture. Use your judgement. I'm sure either way is fine ... one just requires more labor and trash. 
(Step 8) Assemble and eat these babes!

Adapted from this recipe

Shopping List
FOR MERINGUES
4 large egg whites, at room temperature 30 minutes
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
FOR SAUCE:
2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

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