Kitchen Witch Wednesday: Thyme Lemon Curd Meringue Nests
Overall, out of every edible herb, my favorite herb is probably Thyme. There's just something about the taste and scent that makes me melt and swoon. I use it a lot in my cooking and as I just bought a bunch of fresh thyme, get ready for a couple weeks of recipes featuring this wonderful plant.
So what makes thyme so great? Besides its incredible flavor, it's also a fantastic antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiseptic herb when used in cleaning products and mouthwash. This also means it can be useful in treating wounds (when the herb is fresh).
Thyme oil can be used to treat arthritis pain, rheumatism, and bruised muscles. Just make sure you're not applying it in excessive amounts as the oil might irritate the skin in high doses.
Used internally, it stimulates memory and concentration as rosemary does, can be used to soothe upset stomachs, and helps treat persistent coughs and respiratory congestion (one of the reasons I just stocked up).
In magical lore, it's said that thyme--when carried on your person--can be used to bring faeries into your life, ward off evil, and give you courage and energy.
It's used in spells of health, healing, sleep, divination, love, purification, and courage. Burn thyme to cleanse an area or add it to a purifying bath.
So there you have it. Is there anything thyme can't do?? No. No there isn't.
Today's recipe blended the savory and lightly floral taste of thyme with the sour bitterness of lemon. Many recipes you'll find pair the two and it's not for nothing. They mix beautifully to provide a full flavor.
I knew I wanted to make meringue nests with lemon curd filling but I had to kick it up a notch for it to be a Kitchen Witch Wednesday.
Since you can't really find any thyme lemon curd in stores, it seemed I'd have to make my own!
How I began to make this complete recipe was by starting with the meringue. They take a long time to bake and I knew I needed to start those first. While they were in the oven, I whipped up the lemon curd. Then they both needed time to sit and cool and I assembled them the next morning.
Let's dive in, shall we?
- 8 egg whites (put aside 4 of the yolks, you'll need them later for the lemon curd)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
First, pre-heat your oven to 225 F and line two baking pans with parchment paper. Prepare a piping bag with a tip to shape the meringue.
Next, beat the egg whites in a large bowl with a mixer on a low speed until they appear foamy. It's important to note that it's next to impossible to make meringue without an electric mixer. Trust me. I've tried.
Slowly add the powdered sugar, all while beating the mixture on a gradually increasing speed.
Now comes the hard part if you're using a hand mixer. You have to keep beating the eggs and sugar until they get thick enough to form stiff peaks when you lift the mixer from the bowl. It has to be able to hold a shape. For me, I lost track of how long it took, and almost gave up--thinking it would never happen. I was using a hand mixer and my arms were getting so stiff and sore. But FINALLY it came together.
Once it's ready, transfer it into the piping bag and set about building your nests. Pipe a circle, starting in the center, and then work your way out. When you reach your desired size, start circling around the sides until it's your preferred height.
Then bake the meringues for an hour and a half. At each 30min mark, turn the pans 180 degrees to keep them baking evenly on all sides.
Finally, turn off the oven and leave them for an additional 30mins to lower their temperature slowly. When the 30mins are up, you can take them out to cool.
Thyme Lemon Curd:
- 1-2 tbsp lemon zest
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 5-10 sprigs of thyme (depending on how strong you want the flavor to be)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3 large eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 tbsp butter (1/2 stick) (chopped into small pieces)
First, pour the lemon zest, juice, sugar, thyme, and salt into a small saucepan. Stir it until the sugar and salt dissolve a bit. Then set it on medium heat for 5min.
While that's cooking, beat the eggs in a bowl. Make sure to stir the saucepan mixture every minute or so.
Then pour some of the saucepan mixture into the bowl with the eggs. This is called tempering the eggs. Whisk it together and then add that all to the saucepan.
From here, you need to whisk it constantly on medium heat for 5min. I suggest wearing a pot holder over your hand in case it bubbles up.
After the 5min are up, push it through a mesh strainer into a bowl. This will get out any clumps and the springs of thyme.
Add the butter and mix it in until it has melted entirely, and the curd has a smooth consistency.
Cut out a square of plastic wrap and press it on top of the curd rather than over the whole bowl. This will keep it from getting a film/skin on top.
Refrigerate it for about 2-4 hours or overnight, then transfer it into a jar or tupperware.
- meringue nests
- lemon curd
- mixed fruit (I used blackberries and mandarin oranges)
- a few small sprigs of thyme
Spoon lemon curd into the meringue nests and then decorate with fresh fruit and sprigs of thyme.
It makes a great dessert with tea or for special occasions!
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