Meringue is so simple to make at home; with an electric whisk the mixture takes just minutes to prepare. The addition of a little lemon juice helps to keep the meringue shiny. You then pop it in the oven on a low temperature for several hours and go and do something else while the meringue slowly cooks. This is a large meringue nest; if you prefer to make smaller nests, cooking time would be reduced by about half. It makes a delicious dessert topped with Italian zabaglione and some fresh strawberries.
Preheat the oven to 75°C/165°F/gas mark ¼ or as low as it will go. Line a 24cm/9½-inch diameter round baking sheet with baking parchment.
Put the egg whites and salt in a bowl and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the caster sugar, whisking all the time. Add the lemon juice and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Put the mixture into a piping bag (pastry bag) and pipe a large nest onto the baking parchment. Alternatively, if you don’t have a piping bag, you can use a large spoon. Sprinkle with icing sugar and immediately place in the oven for 4 hours.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before carefully removing from the baking sheet. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, make the zabaglione. In a small heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vin santo. Place over a saucepan of gently simmering water, whisking all the time until the mixture begins to boil and thicken. Remove from the heat, whisk well to get rid of any lumps, and leave to cool.
Put the meringue on a serving plate, fill the middle with the zabaglione and decorate with strawberries.
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