Vacherin: Meringue Nests to Hold Your Favorite Fillings
Crisp, white, swirls of meringue create the classic French vacherin and function as a beautiful, delicious, delicate, low fat and calorie vessel for sorbet, fresh fruit, ice cream, whipped cream, dollops of crème fraîche and the like. They are easy to make and can be made several days ahead, if and only if you store in an absolute airtight container. Any humidity will wreak havoc with these.
- 4 large egg whites
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 cup superfine sugar
- Preheat oven to 225°F. Line a baking sheet pan with parchment and trace 6, 3-inch circles onto paper. Flip paper over.
- In a clean, grease-free bowl whip egg whites with balloon whisk attachment of stand mixer on low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating, turning speed to high, until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually and beat until meringue is stiff and glossy.
- Scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a large open star tip such as a Wilton 1M or 4B. Starting in the center of a traced circle, start piping concentric circles until the outline is filled. Then, along the outside edge of the circle, pipe a ring and continue to make a second ring above the first, making a sidewall of meringue.
- Bake for about 1½ hours or until completely dry and crisp to the touch. They should stay as white as possible. Cool pan on wire rack. Store shells in a dry place for up to a week.
- This recipe can be easily doubled for a larger number of people. Due to the fact that they look so impressive and can be made ahead, these make a great dinner party dessert.
- This recipe will work with regular granulated sugar and/or you can buzz your regular sugar in the food processor to make your own superfine.