Caramel and Toasted Coconut Meringue Nests
This playful dessert makes a fabulous make-ahead for Easter dinner: you can make the meringue nests and the caramel cream the day before. Just before serving, whip the cream, fill the nests, and garnish. Outside of Easter, the nests are also delicious topped with fresh berries or tropical fruit.
1-1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp. white vinegar
1-3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
2 cups cream
18 Knipschildt Chocolate Robin’s Egg candies or Kopper’s Robin’s Egg Marshmallow candies
1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Spread the coconut out on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast, stirring twice, until the coconut is golden-brown, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. Reduce the oven heat to 250°F. Line a rimless baking sheet with parchment.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and vinegar until soft peaks form.
4. In a small bowl, combine 1¼ cup of the sugar, the cornstarch and ¼ tsp. of the salt. With the mixer running, add the dry ingredients to the egg whites 1 Tbs. at a time. Beat on high for 2 minutes more, until the mixture is stiff and shiny. Fold in ¾ cup of the toasted coconut.
5. Portion the meringue into 6 evenly-spaced dollops on the parchment, and use a spoon to shape the meringue into a “nest” with a slight depression in the middle. Sprinkle with some of the remaining toasted coconut, leaving about 2 Tbsp. for garnish.
6. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet once. Turn off the oven and let the meringues cool completely in the oven with the door slightly open. Keep the meringues in a cool, dry place until ready to serve.
7. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining ½ cup sugar, ½ tsp. salt, and 2 Tbsp. water. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, without stirring, until the mixture begins to turn golden. Lower the heat and watch the syrup carefully, swirling the pan occasionally to even out the color. When the syrup turns deep amber, immediately remove from the heat and add the cream, pouring carefully down the side of the pan. The mixture will spatter and the caramel will harden—this is fine.
8. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden or silicone spoon, until the caramel dissolves back into the cream. Remove from the heat and cool, stirring often. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill overnight (if you’re in a hurry, transfer to an ice bath and chill until very cold).
9. When ready to serve, whip the caramel cream with a hand mixer or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Gently remove the meringue nests from the parchment with an offset spatula and place on serving plates. Divide the cream among the six nests evenly, spreading the cream almost to the edge of the meringue. Top each nest with three egg candies and sprinkle with the remaining toasted coconut.