Vanilla Meringues with Passionfruit Curd and Entertaining Perils

I love entertaining and inviting friends to a dinner party is one of my most favourite things to do.  But sometimes the night doesn’t go as planned.

Vanilla Meringues with Passionfruit Curd

I’ve had people arrive early.  The doorbell rings and you get that immediate panic attack.  I’ll turn to Carl and say, ‘That can’t be them can it?’  And I’ll survey the scene.  I’m wearing a tracksuit and looking like I’m about dig ditches, the table hasn’t been set, lounge room is still a mess, there’s no music playing, the candles haven’t been lit and I still have to prepare the entree and finish the dessert.

On this night, Carl opened the door and sure enough it was our guests.  I emerged from the kitchen and said, ‘We said seven, not six’.  And they replied with beaming smiles, ‘I know, but we just couldn’t wait to see you.’

And then I gave a very strained smile and said, ‘Oh, that’s nice.  Come on in then.  I’ll be in the kitchen if you don’t mind, just finishing a few things off.’  And of course the first thing I did was pour myself a tumbler of wine.

Then I’ve had guests arrive an hour late (not their fault at all, their flight was delayed) but being oblivious to their flight schedule I went ahead and cooked the beef anyway so by the time we sat down to eat, it was dry beyond belief.

Then I’ve planned the ultimate dinner party for eight only to have one couple turn up with their four children, all unfed.   And along with everything else there is to do when you have eight for dinner, I then had to rummage through the fridge and find something to feed these four starving children.

But I think the biggest entertaining faux pas I’ve ever had is the day Carl and I arrived home to find a couple standing on our doorstep.  Yes, we’d spoken during the week about the possibility of getting together on the Saturday night but I thought it was only going ahead if I confirmed it with them.  There’d been no confirmation so we weren’t expecting them.  Not knowing what to do we just pretended all was well and apologised for not being home when they arrived.  While Carl entertained them in the lounge, I quickly scoured the fridge and pantry for inspiration.  I threw Carl a bag of crisps to keep them going while I whipped up a hummingbird cake and while that was in the oven I made some sort of a chicken dish with rice.  When that was ready the cake was due to come out of the oven so I put it on a wire rack to cool, sat down to the stir-fry, leapt up to make cream cheese frosting, iced the cake, served it with whipped cream and finally began to relax.  As we went to bed that night I asked Carl, ‘Do you think we got away with it?’  And he said, ‘I’m pretty sure we did.’

And so even with the best of intentions the night you’ve visualised can turn into something else.

Have you had any entertaining disasters?

As tomorrow is Australia Day, I’ve cooked something that is associated with Australian cuisine.  Meringues!  And the passionfruit curd they are served with takes me back to my childhood where almost all of my friends had a passionfruit vine growing over one of the dividing fences.

Vanilla Meringues with Passionfruit Curd

Dessert is served

Makes:  24 (12 joined together with passionfruit curd)

Cost:  Inexpensive and a great way to use up leftover egg whites

  • 4 eggwhites
  • 1 1/4 cups caster sugar
  • 1 tbspn cornflour
  • 1 tspn white vinegar
  • 1 tspn vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 120C.  In a clean bowl whisk egg whites until soft peaks form.  Gradually add sugar a tbspn at a time beating well after each addition.  Fold in cornflour, vinegar and vanilla.

Line a baking tray with baking paper and draw 5cm circles on the paper.  Put meringue mixture into a piping bag with a wide nozzle and pipe meringues inside the circles.

Bake in the oven for 1 hr then turn the oven off and leave the meringues to cool completely in the oven.

Sandwich meringues together with passionfruit curd and whipped cream.

Passionfruit Curd

  • 100gms butter
  • 175gms sugar
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
  • 6 passionfruit

In a bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water (being careful to make sure the water is not touching the bowl) stir the butter and sugar until smooth.  Remove from heat and add the eggs, stirring constantly.  Add passionfruit and continue to stir.  Place the mixture in a small saucepan and place over  a low heat and stir constantly until thickened (about 10 minutes).  Place in a container and put in the fridge to cool where it will set more firmly.

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  1. (swoon!)

  2. My first ever dinner party, two of the guests I had invited assumed I couldn’t cook, so ate before hand. I gave them an extra big serving anyway.

    I LOVE passionfruit curd!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I can’t believe people would turn up to a dinner party having already eaten. That is so rude! I’m glad you gave them an extra large serving!

  3. I LOVE meringues – yours look perfect and I’ve never thought of using passionfruit – delicious! Oh, and if I’m ever lucky enough to score a dinner invite to your house I will arrive right on time, no kids and STARVING! 🙂

  4. Oh yes over the years there have been some horrible moments including the electricity being cut, before the completion of cooking, on one occasion.
    Its just a bit funny to read oTher peoples disasters!
    Your meringues look beautiful and perfect for Australia Day

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’ve had the dinner party with the black-out too. Forgot to put that story in my post! And yes, it’s always hilarious reading of other people’s disasters.

  5. “a great way to use up leftover egg whites”… You’re speaking my language! After a monster batch off egg-yolk-only eggnog, I’m making meringue at every opportunity!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, leftover egg whites are the perfect excuse for whipping up meringues or pavlova. And no one in the family ever complains about that!

  6. You sound like Superwoman to me! Just “whipped up a hummingbird cake” — heroic!

    Those meringues are gorgeous.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, I know. I don’t think I could do it now. I used to know that recipe off by heart and by chance I had all the ingredients I needed. Pure luck on this occasion I think!

  7. If you entertain long enough there will be the occasional problem. I have had early arrivals…my husband covers for me while I run uostairs and change. Your dessert sounds great…I didn’t know that meringues were associated with Australia.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Well, maybe not meringues, but definitely pavlova is associated with Australia. And these meringues were quite large making them a little like a mini pavlova so I’m going to claim them as patriotic enough to be served today, on Australia Day!

  8. You whipped up a cake??? Wow.. I’m impressed!! I’m prepared for early guests, that is never an issue. Bringing kids I wasn’t expecting is. My place is small and I prepare for the amount of guests I know are to be coming. Actually an additional adult is fine, but kids and my dogs don’t match. Now having someone show up at my doorstep w/o knowing and you made a cake!! I bow to you!!! I keep a few desserts in the freezer for these moments so I can throw them in the oven – even cookies – when something is warm and homemade, it always goes over nicely!!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, I whipped up a cake. Back then I was going through a stage of making cakes for my friend’s birthdays at work. I used to make that cake all the time so I knew the recipe off by heart. Now, I couldn’t name three things in it and I don’t think I could even locate the original recipe.

  9. Wow-you are the queen of dinner parties/improvising. I get pretty nervous, even when things go according to plan-that’s when my nice BIG wine glasses come in handy 😉

  10. I have had my share of entertaining disasters and have just thought on my feet and went with it. Sometimes that is all you can do. At least when I am prepared I have plenty of food on hand. However, when caught off guard usually the fridge is full of condiments – ha! Have a Great Day and Keep Smiling:)

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, that’s all you can do. And fortunately, most guests are just so grateful to be invited to someone else’s home for dinner that they are very gracious and don’t condemn you for a less than perfect performance.

  11. I love, love, love passion fruit, but can’t often find it in this part of Mexico. But when I do, I will be trying this recipe. It looks wonderful!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That’s a shame you can’t find passionfruit in Mexico. Such a lovely fruit. I thought passionfruit were available everywhere.

  12. I have really enjoyed reading your post, your photos, the recipe (I love passion fruit!) and I find your blog excellent! Thank you for coming to my blog and thus giving me a chance to get to know yours! I’m very happy to arrive here 🙂
    I hate when people arrive too early. I would rather prefer them even two hours late, because I am never ready before the time! Well, I try to be ready 15 minutes before but it almost never works. You should have put them to work in the kitchen 😉 Thus you would profit from extra hands.
    I cannot remember anything particular (luckily!) but I have recently made lots of snack with beautiful chili peppers inside that I assumed were just slightly hot… They were so hot we all cried (and I have a very high hot food resistance!), but it was delicious. At least for those who didn’t have paralysed mouth 😉

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Sissi. Yes, I am never ready for the early guest. Couldn’t they just sit in their car and then walk in fashionably late?

  13. What gorgeous meringues! I’ve never tasted passionfruit and look forward to the experience one day. 🙂 As to dining party disasters, I don’t entertain but I did invite my best friend from grade school and her hubby over for pizza and a movie one day shortly after they had married.

    With them standing around watching I started to take out the pizza using a dampish tea-towel instead of oven mitts. I touched the hot rack through the towel and the hot steam gave me a start so I ended up dropping the pizza, topping side down in the oven, part in the oven on the lower heating element, part on the door, and part down through the door hinge. Besides the billows of smoke and the embarrassment, I still ended up having to clean up the mess, call a pizza delivery place for a replacement and carry on with the evening. Definitely discouraged me from having people over.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, having people standing around in your kitchen watching everything you do can be off-putting and of course, this will lead to kitchen disasters. Thank goodness ordering a pizza is such an easy thing to do.

  14. Meringue and passionfruit curd would be delicious!!!

    The last dinner party I hosted we had guests arrive 30 minutes early. For the first time EVER I was dressed and 99% ready to go.

    Your recovery after having the people waiting on your doorstep is seriously impressive!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      That’s very impressive that you were 99% ready 30 minutes before a dinner party. I usually need guests to be at least 15 minutes late so I’m ready ‘on time’.

  15. We’re having meringue today too, but as MIL is bringing it that means it was made by a supermarket and might have 2 types of fruit on it if I’m lucky, sigh…..
    I like to be super prepared for guests with must prep work done the day before, but that doesn’t mean all will be well, just that OCD is appeased 🙂

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Enjoy the meringue today but what a shame the MIL takes the easy road and picks one up from the supermarket because they are so inferior to what you can make at home and really, making meringue is quite easy.

  16. Gorgeous dessert! So, so beautiful on the plate.

    I could never have pulled off the dinner at the last second like you did! Wow! I think my worst entertainment issue was when I was still in high school – so I guess it’s my mom’s worst issue – and we had 12 relatives staying with us in our fairly small apartment in Berlin over Christmas and we ran out of toilet paper and all the stores are closed on Christmas. That was…interesting.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Gretchen. 12 Guests staying in an apartment! That sounds unmanageable. No wonder you ran out of toilet paper. I’ve had that happen too. We had to use serviettes! A bit embarrassing really.

  17. They look lovely. I tend to baulk at fiddly things. Perhaps I need to be braver.

    I think J Cosmo needs meringue to mouth resuscitation!

  18. Oh Charlie, I can feel your pain. JT and I have often said it’s ruder to arrive early than late because early doesn’t even give you a fleeting chance! Years ago one such guest arrived whilst I was in the shower; I had to answer the door in my bathrobe and my head bundled up in a towel, SANS makeup! OH MY! Worse things can happen…another guest just recently arrived over an hour late, and we both wondered if they would even show up. Oh and then there was the couple that cancelled the last second – food prepared an all…we had to call in the last minute replacements just to help finish the food. But we do have stories…
    Your meringues look divine, Happy Australia Day!

  19. Lordy, I’m impressed, Charlie! I doubt I could get away with winging it like that.
    I have a friend who invited a couple who she knew to be empty nesters for Xmas dinner last year. The couple accepted – for themselves and 12 other members of their family!! My friend just added another leaf to the table and coped magnificently. What a woman!

  20. Charlie…you are a better woman than I, and I bow to your ability to land so quickly on your feet AND whip out such great food! I’ve had people show up early before I was able to change clothes, and also had people eat before they came to a dinner party as mentioned above…I mean, who does that? My favorite was having a summer dinner party where everything had to be grilled and we were set to eat outdoors. The weather was supposed to be perfect. As the guests arrived and we sat eating apps on the deck, storm clouds came, the weather turned cool, it started to rain then hail while we had all the food on the grill! We spent the next hour and a half trying to coax the grill to stay lit under the roof overhang during a thunderstorm, and I didn’t have back up so we all had to wait. It wasn’t my best night. Your meringues are simple and perfectly gorgeous, and papaya curd sounds amazing!

  21. I always, and I mean always, forget to bring something I made/cooked to the dinner table. Sometimes I’ll forget the rice in the microwave, or the salad in the fridge, etc. So basically, there’s always a faux pas when I’m entertaining 🙂

  22. Haha I just wrote a post about the very same thing! I do love entertaining though… 😛

  23. I learned watching Mom to always keep a quart of tomato sauce in the freezer and a box of pasta in the pantry. No matter who shows up at the door or what happens once they get here, a pound of cooked pasta can often help handle it. You, though, baking a cake, are deserving of a standing ovation! Well done!

  24. You are amazing! How can you whip up a cake and a chicken dish impromptu?? It must have took at least 2 hrs or more! I would have freaked out and probably order the pizza in. Btw, what is Australia Day? Some sort of National Day?

  25. dram newcombe says:

    That early arrival would have knocked me for a six – but I think I would rather have been you battling it out in the kitchen than Carl trying to keep things flowing in the lounge room with you gone for so long. A trying night for all!
    We used the meringue recipe to fill in time on a wet Australia Day up the coast – was worth paying money to buy beaters. The meringues were delicious. But don’t you miss your kitchen equipment when you’re on holidays!!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Dram. Glad you’ve used the meringue recipe but what a shame you had to go out and buy beaters just to make them. Shame about the weather!

  26. You’re a tough act to follow, can’t believe you pulled that off!

  27. You know, I’m a weirdo – I love inviting people over and planning what to cook – and then the night draws near and they’re about to arrive and every time, without fail, I’ll curse myself for being so social and wish I was spending the evening alone with my wife 😀

    I had a bit of a disaster once when my oven broke down – I’d just seared a pork tenderloin and had put it in the oven to finish off, but after 20 minutes I realised it wasn’t actually cooking at all. Had to take it out and “fry” it :/ Yummy :p

    I like your little meringues – they’re like little meringue macarons!

  28. those meringues look so so pretty…picture perfect! i totally empathise with you, i have had guests come an hour early too & being the last minute person that i am, i always have athousand things to do in the final hour & usually look shabby & unkempt with my kitchen looking like its just been hit by a hurricane! but being the gracious host what else can we do but smile as if we dont have a single worry in the world 😀

  29. These are so cute 🙂 definitely going to try and make some ~ thinking of making them pink for Valentines day hehe

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