This side of the Atlantic it is the world's worst kept secret that today officially kicks off the long awaited Diamond Jubilee celebrations honoring Queen Elizabeth II and her incredible 60 years on the throne.
The buildup for this long-awaited event has been growing steadily over the past few months, with every newspaper, magazine, high street shop, department store, supermarket and endless television adverts all showcasing the Union Jack, festive bunting, scores of summer garden party recipes and of course, the requisite array of baked goods and sweets in patriotic reds, blues and whites.
While I haven't gotten irretrievably swept away with Jubilee fever just yet, I admit it's hard not to get inspired by some of the amazing displays of mouth watering treats being showcased right now in literally every patisserie window and foodie publication in the country.
This swell of patriotism also offered the perfect excuse to roll out these fabulously light and delicious white chocolate meringues topped with a a trio of fresh berries, conveniently completing the requisite Union Jack color scheme. (Bonus! I get to enjoy a gorgeous summer treat AND feel satisfied I've done my patriotic duty. It really doesn't get better than that!)
White Chocolate Meringue Nests with Fresh Summer Berries
by My Union Jack
recipe adapted from BBC Food
Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/Gas 1 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
Beat the egg whites with the vanilla extract, cream of tartar and the white wine vinegar until they form stiff peaks and then beat in the sugar, a spoonful at a time, until the meringue is stiff and shiny. *See note at bottom of recipe.
Add the finely chopped white chocolate then gently fold everything in until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 23cm/10in in diameter, smoothing the sides and the top. (In the case of these nests, I GENTLY filled an icing bag with a decorative tip and drew a circle with the mixture to form the perimeter, filling it inwards and finally flattening the center to create the "nest.")
Place the tray in the oven and cook for about one and a half to two hours. (To ensure the meringues stay chewy inside, watch them closely and do not over bake!) When they are ready the should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top. Press on the meringues gently and you should feel it give very slightly.
Turn off the oven and open the door slightly, letting the chocolate meringue discs cool completely.
When you're ready to serve, put each meringue onto a large, flat-bottomed plate. Fill with fresh berries of your choice and coarsely grate some additional white chocolate over the top as a garnish OR drizzle some melted dark chocolate on the plate or directly over the berries before serving (optional).
*For extra pointers on whipping egg whites into the perfect meringue, check out this link.