Meringue Nests with Lemon Curd and Raspberries

Looking for a sweet treat the isn't heavy and rich? That is just what my Mom requested for her Mother's Day dinner. This desert is a perfect way to end an evening meal, or to enjoy on your patio on a warm summer night with a glass of vino. This is a really easy recipe, but does take a bit of time so be sure to set aside a few hours if it makes it to your menu. Another bonus is eating any leftover lemon curd the next day. The lemon curd recipe is easy and delicious, but I recommend using a little extra lemon juice if you prefer a tarter flavor. Enjoy!

Meringue Nests
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3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

Place egg whites in a large bowl; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Beat the egg whites, vanilla and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, on high until stiff peaks form.

Drop meringue into eight mounds on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Shape into 3-in. cups with the back of a spoon. Or, place meringue mixture in pastry bag fitted with star tip. Pipe meringue onto parchment paper to form eight 3-in. cups.

Bake at 275° for 45-50 minutes or until set and dry. Turn off oven and do not open door; leave meringues in oven for 1 hour. Fill with lemon curd and fruit. Yield: 8 servings.

Lemon Curd
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3 large eggs
3/4 cup  granulated white sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons) (do not use the bottled lemon juice)
4 Tbl unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Tbl finely shredded lemon zest

In a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and lemon juice until blended. Cook, stirring constantly (to prevent it from curdling), until the mixture becomes thick (like sour cream or a hollandaise sauce) (160 degrees F or 71 degrees C). This will take approximately 10 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer to remove any lumps. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk into the mixture until the butter has melted. Add the lemon zest and let cool. The lemon curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Cover immediately (so a skin doesn't form) and refrigerate for up to a week.
Makes 1 1/2 cups