Recently my local grocer had a special on a big bag of teeny-tiny little green key limes - the photo above is a very close close-up. They may be small, about the size of a golf ball or even smaller, but they have a BIG flavor. I just knew that I could make a great key lime curd if I tried. The recipe is exactly the same as for the lemon curd, except that you use 1 tablespoon, packed, grated key lime zest and 1/2 cup key lime juice. It was surprising how many little key limes it took to make 1/2 cup, but there are still some left for other recipes. The unsweetened juice really got my taste buds dancing.
Once I knew I' d have key lime curd, the next question was what to make to hold it and go with it. Since I had a few egg whites left over from making the curd, meringue nests were an obvious choice. I piped the meringue in pretty small nests, so a serving ended up being two personal pavlovas to a plate. The meringue nest held a dollop of lime curd, some diced fresh pineapple and juicy white peaches, diced. A little more lime curd on top completed this rather sweet dessert.
If I made this again, I'd use fruit that was more tart, to offset the sweetness of the meringues. I might even include a bit of melted bittersweet chocolate on the bottom of the nests before adding the curd and fruit. If you make this, remember to leave the meringues in the oven to cool and crisp up, and to only fill the nests when you are ready to serve them as soon as they are made. Just like the dancing of ballerina these were named for, Anna Pavlova, they are delicate, airy and ethereal.
4 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar, preferably super fine granulate sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Prepare a baking sheet by cutting parchment paper to fit. Set aside
Place the room temperature egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (if possible) and beat on medium with the whisk attachment for a minute, then increase to high speed and beat until meringue begins to take shape. Gradually add the sugar, about a tablespoon at a time and beat until meringue is stiff, about five minutes. Add the vanilla extract and beat just to incorporate.
Place the meringue in a pastry bag with either a plain or serrated tip and pipe a nest the size you like. (Mine were about the size of the bottom of a 1/3 cup measure and I made 30 small meringue nests.) Leave about an inch between nests.
Bake in preheated 250 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Be careful to not overcook them. They should remain white, not become brown (as mine did). Turn the oven off and leave them in the oven until the oven is cool. Carefully remove the nests from the parchment paper and store in an airtight container at room temperature. Note: Meringues are difficult to make in humid weather and will not keep very well if it is humid.