One of the easiest and most versatile dessert shell is the Meringue Shell. Only three ingredients, egg whites, sugar and an acid along with a bit of time in a low oven transforms these simple components into feather light, melt in your mouth containers for almost anything you want to put in them.
From Schaum Tortes of Vienna filled with a lightened lemon curd to ice cream balls, and the national dessert of New Zealand and Australia, Pavolova, these Meringue Shells make the perfect do ahead dessert. I remember well when I was young my mother making Schaum Torte on special occasions. She would make a large nine or ten inch shell and fill it with the most delicious lemon filling. I was always first in line for a piece. Well, one year my uncle came to our house to help transfer the mountain of food my mother made including the Schaum Torte, croissant and other treats to our grandmothers where we al ate. As he stepped off the curb, he slipped and while he remained upright, alas, the lemon filled treat fell from his hands into the curb. I don’t think he ever got over it. I’m sure my mother didn’t. I know for sure I didn’t.
There are many types of meringue from the soft pillows that cover a lemon meringue pie to buttercreams based on various meringues to crisp cookies or shells. The type of meringue depends upon the amount of sugar used. For a crisp meringue a two to one proportion of egg whites to sugar is used. For these crisp shells a base formula of 1 egg white to 1/4 cup (50 grams or 1 2/3 ounces) of sugar is used. An acid such as 1/2 teaspon cream of tarter or 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar helps stabalize the meringue. Continue reading