For so many Kiwis, family barbeques and gatherings during the hot days of summer are synonymous with one dessert: A pile of perfect, fluffy white meringues.
If you've been searching high and low for the perfect meringue recipe this festive season, look no further: Kiwi bakers are getting the chance to share recipes from their family kitchens with the nation, and for Jette Dixon, it's her mum's meringues, topped with fresh lemon curd and Anchor cream.
Dixon is one of five winners of Anchor's Feeling of Home series, a competition which allows entrants to share the recipes and dishes that most connect them to a sense of home.
Mike Boness, Fonterra Brands' Marketing Director, says Anchor has played a part in so many moments of whanau connection, thanks to its place in Kiwi kitchens since 1886.
"That's 135 years of family moments, celebrations and memories for New Zealanders - old or new," says Boness. "Whether it's Anchor Milk in your morning cuppa, Anchor Butter on scones or Anchor Cream on your pavlova at Christmas."
There are some descriptions of food that truly allow you to taste it when you hear it, and Dixon's meringue entry for the Anchor Feeling of Home competition is one of those.
"It's the perfect dessert," says Dixon. "It has all of the satisfying textures and flavour combinations - with its crackly crispy shell on the meringues and a slight squidgy chewy middle."
On top, Dixon's mother would pile on "silky, tart, zingy, lemon curd from lemons straight off the tree - how much more Kiwi can you get!?" as well as "fresh dollops of velvety smooth whipped Anchor cream".
"Always Anchor, of course because it was the richest cream," she added.
"[It's] certainly the dish that I remember from my childhood at the centre of wonderful memories."
Dixon told Newshub while her family doesn't celebrate Christmas, all the generations of her family would get together for celebrations when they could, despite being scattered around the North Island.
Cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles would all gather and every time "without fail" Dixon's beloved Great- Aunty Ine would request the meringues for dessert.
"They were family famous!" says Dixon.
"Mum would make some delicious food which we would all enjoy around our big dining table.
"That dining table turned into a bit of a theme in our family - everything would be celebrated with food and drinks around that table.
"I also remember on one particularly special anniversary, my Nana Sheila came over for lunch. Mum made her famous meringues and to really make the dessert extra special, she gilded the peaks of the meringues with some gold leaf.
"This was so exciting, we felt like we were eating treasure - so spesh!"
Like so many Kiwi cooks, Dixon's mum adapted her recipe from a well-thumbed copy of Jo Seager's cookbook.
Dixon told judges the dessert reminds her of long lunches and family dinners, with all the generations "packed in around our big dining table, listening to old family stories and cheeky jokes from great aunt Ine".
It's a setting Mike Boness says will resonate with so many Kiwi families.
"The kitchen is the heart of the home for so many Kiwis and food brings people together," he said. "Whether it’s memories of making recipes passed down generations or connecting with family at the dining table, it plays such a big part in how we come together."
Dixon says now when she makes her mother's meringues, she thinks of the family members that sat around that big dining table who they're now missing - but says she doesn't feel grief.
"It makes me happy to think about them," she reflects.
"It also makes me determined to create new celebrations and memories with my own children who have turned out to be fans of mum's family-famous meringues themselves!"
Recipe: Mum's meringues with fresh whipped Anchor cream and homemade lemon curd
For the Lemon Curd
4 large juicy lemons (I used Meyer lemons)
100g Anchor Butter, cut into small cubes
2 cups castor sugar
4 whole eggs (size 7)
Scrub the lemons, finely grate the lemon rind and squeeze the juice. Place the juice and lemon rind in a small saucepan and add the sugar and Anchor butter. Stir over very low heat until the butter melts, DO NOT let it boil. Take off the heat while you prepare the eggs
In a separate heat proof bowl, beat the eggs well, then with a damp tea towel around the base of the bowl to keep steady, slowly pour in the hot sugar and lemon mixture in a thin stream whilst you keep beating the eggs (all at once could cause the eggs to curdle!) Mix well.
Put a medium pot on the stove with a cup or so of water in the bottom and put on medium heat. Return the lemon and eggs mixture to heat by placing the heat proof bowl on top of the pot of water and bring the water to a boil (this is a double boiler it will help cook the curd more gently and make it less likely to split! Just make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the bowl).
Stir this mixture constantly for about three minutes or until it thickens (it will set a little thicker as it cools but not much). Pour this mixture into a jug and while still warm fill freshly sterilized jars. Makes 3x 250g jars. Seal and refrigerate, it will last a couple of weeks in the fridge.
For the Meringues and whipped Anchor cream
3 egg whites (size 7 eggs)
1 cup castor sugar
200ml fresh Anchor Cream
½ cup lemon curd
Preheat the oven to 110C degree bake.
With electric beaters or a stand mixer, whisk egg whites in a glass or metal bowl (not plastic) until stiff peaks form. One teaspoon at a time, add the castor sugar (go slowly!) until the egg whites become glossy and smooth.
Place tablespoonfuls of the meringue mixture onto baking trays lined with good baking paper. I like to give them extra pointy peaks at this stage by lightly bouncing the back of the spoon on the top of the meringues.
Bake for about an hour, but keep a close eye as all ovens are different, if they start to brown too quickly reduce or turn off the heat. Once baked, turn off the heat completely but keep the meringues in the oven with the door slightly ajar until they cool down.
Whip the fresh cream to soft peaks and ripple in dollops of lemon curd, swirl and marble the curd through the cream and then layer the meringues with the curd rippled cream, stacked on a serving plate.
This article was created for Anchor.