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4 medium Free range egg whites, at room temperature
140g caster sugar
140g icing sugar, sieved
For the apricot compote:
300g ripe apricots, stones removed and quartered
50g caster sugar
1 lemon, juice only
For the lemon thyme cream:
125ml whole milk
40g caster sugar
1 medium free range egg yolk
2 tsp cornflour
1 lemon, zest only
3 sprigs lemon thyme, plus extra for garnish
90g double cream
1. For the meringue, preheat the oven to 100°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper. Place the egg whites in a large, clean bowl and begin whisking with an electric whisk. Once they have doubled in volume, begin gradually adding the caster sugar while continuing to whisk. Once all of the sugar has been added, keep whisking on a high speed for a further 10 minutes, which will result in a very stiff and dry meringue.
2. Using a spatula, gently fold the icing sugar into the meringue in 3 stages. Transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe onto the lined baking tray to make 4 equal sized meringue nests, leaving a hole in the top for the filling. This can be done with a metal spoon instead of a piping bag for a more rustic appearance. Place into the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until the meringues lift easily off the baking parchment without breaking. Set aside to cool.
3. For the compote, place the sugar in a small pan with 150ml water and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the apricots and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until they have softened completely and the compote is a thick consistency. Taste and adjust the flavour by adding lemon juice or more sugar, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Set aside to cool.
4. For the lemon thyme cream, place the milk, lemon zest and lemon thyme into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Separately, whisk together the caster sugar, egg yolk and cornflour. Once the milk has boiled, add a little to the egg mixture while whisking continuously, then transfer this mixture back to the pan of milk. Set the pan over a high heat and whisk continuously for approximately 2 minutes in order to cook out the cornflour. Place the mixture through a sieve into a clean bowl and cover the surface with cling film. Leave to cool.
5. When completely cool, whisk the crème pâtissière to loosen it slightly. Separately, whisk the double cream until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the crème pâtissière, being careful not to overmix. Place in the fridge until required.
6. To assemble, place a small spoonful of the compote onto a plate and then place a meringue on top of it. Spoon ¼ of the compote into the meringue nest, allowing some to drizzle down the sides. Finish with a scoop of lemon thyme cream and garnish with some freshly picked lemon thyme. Repeat with the remaining 3 meringues.
The meringues can be made up to a month in advance and frozen in an airtight container. Meringues are best made with eggs that are a couple of weeks old, not fresh from the supermarket. Save your freshest eggs for poaching and bake with the older ones.
Recipe from the Waitrose & Partners Cookery School. Click here to find out more.
This recipe was first published in June 2019.