Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Heart Shaped Meringues - What a way to say I love you, Valentine!

I'm always looking for grain-free dessert ideas. Plus, I have a weakness for anything that's kitschy cute and what better time of year to embrace kitsch than Valentine's Day.

I saw a recipe by Carla Hall in this month's Redbook and was inspired to rework it. I just felt like it was more complicated than it needed to be. So, here's my simplified version of Heart Shaped Meringues with Jam.

Heart Shaped Meringues with Jam
Makes 4 to 6, 4-inch hearts

4 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup of your favorite jam, fresh sliced strawberries, raspberries or passion fruit puree

Preheat oven to 225F.

Place the egg whites in a mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer at medium speed until they are foamy and hold a soft peak.

Continue to whip the egg whites as you gradually add 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.  Continue to whip at medium speed until the whites become very stiff and glossy.

Remove the mixer and fold in the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the vanilla extract.  Don't over mix or the egg white will begin to loose their fluff.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon the egg white mixture into a large piping bag or gallon-sized plastic bag. Pipe the outline of a heart about 4 inches long by 4 inches wide. Fill in the center and use a spatula to smooth it out. Then, pipe just the outline of the heart again so you create a raised edge like you see in the photo above. Repeat the process 3 to 5 more times, depending on how much meringue you use.

Bake the heart shaped meringues until they are firm, dry and crisp - about  1 1/2 hours. Finished meringues should be dry but not browned. Allow to cool completely.

Once cooled, the baked meringues can be stored in tightly closed plastic bags for a week or two.

When you are ready to serve them, spoon in the jam or line with fresh berries.

If you'd like to recreate the classic pavlova, fill the meringue with whipped cream first and then top with passion fruit puree and fresh strawberries or kiwi fruit slices.

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