Pastel Meringue Nests

Pastel Meringue Nests via Sweetapolita

I’m not sure what it is about meringue, but it has this sort of ethereal and angelic quality to it that makes it one of the most special treats you can make. It’s hard to imagine that a simple whipping of egg whites and sugar can yield something so versatile, so delightfully tasty and so lovely.

A quick few swirls from a pastry bag and you can have the sweetest little nests that, once baked, can be filled with anything from fruit and frosting to curds and creams. I also love that its snow-white “colour” is the perfect starting point for achieving any possible shade you wish (a frequent obstacle us cakers face when we want to colour buttercreams and the like ). As a lover of clean pastel shades, tinting meringue is a dream.

Pastel Meringue Nests via Sweetapolita

I tinted these with a drop of turquoise gel paste and piped them using a large swirl tip, Ateco #887, for a kind of oversized swirled nest effect. While they baked I created some fondant feathers using a silicone feather mold I bought awhile back at my local cake decorating supply shop — I’ve been dying to use this thing! I used the mold and then use a sharp paring knife to give the edges some small slices and imperfections (the key to creating something organic and realistic).

Pastel Meringue Nests via Sweetapolita

I filled the nests with a generous swirl of Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and then adorned them with a single fondant feather. You could also add in some fresh berries, or curd (one way to use up all of the leftover yolks!), or anything at all really. Either way, these are a truly sweet and special treat for little ones — my cakelets not only love when I make meringue (Reese loves it straight from the bowl soft and billowy, and Neve loves it anyway at all), but they were enchanted by the process of making both the feathers and nests.

Pastel Meringue Nests via Sweetapolita

The girls’ eyes lit up when they saw the finished treat  all put together and ready for their tea party. Do you think they’ll still want me to bake them tea party treats when they’re grown and on their own? I hope so.

I wanted to the feathers to be thin and delicate, yet I also wanted them to taste good, so rather than using gumpaste, which we’d typically use for something so thin, I just added some Tylose powder to my fondant before rolling out. I do this often when I want to strengthen my fondant for decorations, but don’t want to use gumpaste. (As you’ve likely discovered, gumpaste may be super strong and dry like pure porcelain, but it doesn’t taste yummy. At all.) Once dry, I gave the feathers a little paint with bright white soft gel colour.

Pastel Meringue Nests via Sweetapolita

Fairy-princess approved. ♥

Pastel Meringue Nests

Yield: ~14 x 3-inch round nests

Sweet, glossy and crisp nests of meringue ready for filling with your favourite buttercream, curd, fruit and more.

Ingredients

  • 5 egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1-1/4 cup (250 g) superfine (caster) sugar
  • Drop of food gel colour of choice
  • You will also need:
  • 2 baking sheets
  • parchment paper
  • 1 large (18-inch) pastry bag
  • 1 large pastry tip of your choice

Instructions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to lowest temperature (for my oven this is 175°F).
  2. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer and the whisk attachment with a lemon-juice-dampened paper towel to remove all traces of grease. Separate your eggs (best done when cold) and add the 5 egg whites into the bowl. If you get any yolk into the mixing bowl, remove all contents and begin again. Leave bowl on counter until they come to room temperature, or place bowl in sink filled with enough warm water to surround the egg whites for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Once egg whites are room temperature (warm is best), place bowl back on mixer and fit with whisk attachment. Mix on low speed until egg whites become frothy, about 1 minute, and add cream of tartar.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually add all of the sugar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down over your head with no meringue falling out. Add gel colour and beat until combined.
  5. Fit the pastry bag with the large tip (I used Ateco #887) and pipe 3-inch (apprx.) circle, working from the middle outwards, followed by three full rings atop one another around the perimeter of the nest. Pipe 7 nests per baking sheet, placing a few inches apart.
  6. Bake both trays in oven until completely dry and crisp, but not browned, about 90 minutes (this can take much longer, depending on your environment). Nests should lift from parchment with ease. Turn off oven and leave nests inside until oven has cooled, then remove nests from oven.
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Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yield: ~ 5 cups of buttercream

A decadent, rich and not-so-sweet buttercream perfect for frosting and filling cakes, cupcakes and baked meringues.

Ingredients

  • 5 large fresh egg whites
  • 1-1/4 cup (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups (340 g) (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoons (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeded and scraped
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  2. Place bowl back on mixer and fit with whisk attachment. Whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 mins, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  3. Add vanilla, vanilla bean seeds and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
  4. Serve at room temperature.

Notes

Keep in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 7 days, or freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw at room temperature. To get buttercream back to its satiny state after chilling, microwave about 1/3 of it in a microwave-safe bowl for about 10 seconds (until very soft) and then add back to remaining buttercream and beat for a few minutes until fluffy and soft.

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Filled Pastel Meringue Nests & Feathers

Yield: ~14 x 3-inch round filled and feathered nests

Ingredients

  • 1 batch Pastel Meringue Nests
  • 1 batch Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue Buttercream
  • Vanilla Fondant (about size of tennis ball)
  • Tylose powder
  • Confectioners' sugar or cornstarch for rolling fondant
  • Bright White soft gel paste, optional
  • You will also need:
  • A small rolling pin
  • small sharp knife
  • silicon feather mold, small

Instructions

    To make the fondant feathers:
  1. Press fondant until flattened and sprinkle with tylose powder, kneading in to incorporate.
  2. Roll small piece of fondant (placing extra fondant in small sealed bag) on a confectioners'-sugar-dusted surface until about 1/16 (I use the pink guides on the small Wilton rolling pin). Place one half of the feather mold onto the fondant and cut around the outline of the mold, about 1/2" bigger than the mold. Line up the other half of the mold, sandwiching the fondant in between by gently pressing straight down. Remove the top mold, and carefully remove the fondant feather, placing back on dusted surface. Use sharp paring knife or craft blade to trim excess fondant and to create some tiny slices along the edges for a realistic look. Let dry on crumpled paper towel, shaping them slightly to dry the way you want them (slightly curved, etc).
  3. Once dry, you can carefully paint them with a small paint brush and bright white gel color paste, if desired. Let dry completely. Dried feathers are fragile, so treat with care.
  4. To assemble the meringue nests:
  5. Fit a pastry bag with a large plain round tip and fill bag 2/3 full with buttercream. Fill each meringue nest until buttercream comes just above top of nest and top with fondant feather.
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Sweetapolita’s Notes:

  • The “superfine” sugar I listed is also known as caster/castor sugar. It’s simply granulated sugar that is more fine and dissolves nicely into the meringue. I use regular sugar (vanilla sugar that I keep in the canister) and pulse it through the food processor a few times. Voila!
  • For the nests in the photos I used Americolor Turquoise  soft gel paste and piped them with the Ateco #887 pastry tip.
  • I bought my feather molds here — it comes with two sizes included and you can order it online.
  • You can add Tylose Powder to fondant to make it stronger for delicate decorations. (This will also result in a quicker drying decoration). Simply sprinkle a thin layer over your rolled piece of fondant, then knead in until blended. I use Satin Ice Fondant.
  • I use the Wilton Fondant 9 Inch Rolling Pin with the pink guides to roll even and thin rounds of fondant to use with the feather mold.
  • You can keep unfilled nests in an airtight container for about a week, and filled nests can stay at room temperature for about 1 day. Always serve Swiss Meringue Buttercream at room temperature (or it will feel and taste as though you’re eating cold butter–eew!).

Good luck & enjoy!

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Comments

  1. says

    Oh Rosie, yet another beautiful post. Ethereal is the right word for these – they look almost magical with those beautiful feathers just floating on top. Happy new year xo

  2. says

    Hi Rosie,

    I also like Satin Ice Fondant because it tastes good and holds up well, but it is so expensive! Do you have a good recipe for homemade fondant? The recipe I’ve been using is not very strong, even when I add tylose.

  3. Anne R says

    Yummy yum yum yum.
    You have only gone and done it again.
    Missed you over the past few weeks and it’s felt like a life time.
    Wishing you, your cakelets and husband a fantastically blessed 2013 filled with love, laughter, joy, happiness and many many more yummy things.
    Take good care.
    Always Anne x

  4. says

    I am very fond of meringues and these look delightful. I’m sure your daughters will continue to be enchanted by your baking long after they’ve grown up … How could they not?!

  5. says

    I too love meringue and found myself making batch after batch for holiday gift giving. Your photos and feather treatment certainly play on their ethereal qualities – they are lovely. I have that mold and recently used it for the first time! Thanks for always inspiring. Happy New Year, Rosie!

  6. says

    How delicate and whimsical! Your creations never fail to render me speechless! Just kidding – I’m never speechless, but I can’t say anything other than “oh my….” for about ten minutes straight ha!

  7. nikki says

    ethereal |iˈTHi(ə)rēəl|
    adjective
    1 extremely delicate and light in a way that seems too perfect for this world:

    This word sums these up perfectly don’t you think!

  8. nikki says

    ………Whoops just looked at the pretty pictures before I read your post, now I feel like a twit. Ethereal immediately popped into my head when I saw them :-)

  9. says

    Oh. my. god. I think these might be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever made. I have a full on LOVE for feathers and these just made my day.

  10. Vanessa says

    Lovely!
    These would be great for a baby shower! Maybe with some white chocolate eggs nuzzled in the buttercream!
    I’m seeing a great baby shower cake topper in these as well!

  11. Lake Lili says

    “Fairy Princess Approved” – no high honour to be awarded!
    Really lovely and a perfect dessert for a snowy day brunch.

  12. says

    Some advice? When I make meringues like these they alway weep, they keep their shape but there seems to be some sugar, I’m not sure what that weeps out from the sides. What am I doing wrong?

  13. Roshini says

    These are the cutest nests I’ve ever seen Rosie & your cakelet model is so professional. I’m a meringue fan too. Love your post.

  14. thebaker girl says

    Rosie you are my new role model!! I seriously want to be just like yow when i grow up. I’m even planning on going to the Bonnie Gordon school after i finish college :) i just really want to know how to be as creative as you are. it would mean the world if you could give me some tips on how to be as awesome as you. thanks a bunch!!

  15. says

    How completely adorable these little nests are. As always, your photos are simply beautiful. What a treat it is–every time!–to visit Sweetapolita!

  16. Beth V says

    Thank-you for the orgeous & inspiring post! I was wondering if the meringues can be made smaller? Say, half the size? I’d like to use them to top cupcakes with. Would I just need to reduce Thetis size and the baking time? Also, do they expand while they cook or hold their shape & size?

    Thanks again,
    Beth V

  17. says

    First of all Hello from Bulgaria!!
    Second, let me tell you that I LOVE your blog!! Everything you present here is made with so much passion and LOVE!! It really blows up all senses!!! THANK YOU for sharing it!!!

    The reason I am writing you now is that I tried that recipe, but after I made two times the meringue and it didn’t dried well I stopped, NOT that I gave up!! I have brand new oven and still trying to discover it, but also have a oven thermometer which should shows correct temperature.. I baked (dried) the meringue with fan on 100C for 2,5h but they were still soft.. the strange thing was that a blue liquid came under the meringues :-( which was strange.. Second time I baked on 120C without fan.. it was same :-(

    Do you have an idea what might cause that?! I used Americolor Light Blue soft gel paste. Forgot to share that for the second round I used 2 tsp of corn floor, and 1 tsp white vinegar with hope to make the meringue more stable. The whites were beaten perfect. Very stiff.

    If you can give any tip I will be thankful :-)
    Anyway I wish you a wonderful New Year!!! And many new recipes!!!

  18. says

    Rosie, I’ve just got to know your blog and I’m in love with it! Sure you can bake and decorate, everything looks so yummy and cute! I’ll sure use these nests on my daughter’s birthday, it’s such a lovely idea, and I love pastel too. Thanks for sharing so many tips, you are truly generous (And, your girls are so sweet!)…

  19. Lucy from Bedlington Bakery says

    Beautiful!!!! I’m going to make these for my little darlings, as they love meringue :-)
    Can I ask you about the Swiss buttercream icing? I was wondering if I use it to fill one of my cakes, how long is it safe to keep out of the refrigerator? I’m looking for an alternative to buttercream for my wedding cakes, but need to use something that will be ok to stand all day… Can you advise me please? I LOVE your blog!!!! Xxx everything always looks so perfect!! :-) xxx

  20. INGRID says

    I want to make these beautiful meringue nests. I want to fill them with a custard. Will they loose the consistency, or how long will it last? Thank you!!

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