Meringue Hearts

meringuehearts

Ingredients

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup superfine white sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Strawberry Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon granulated white sugar

1/2 cup lightly sweetened strawberry puree (can use strawberry or raspberry jam)

Fresh Berries

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F and place racks in upper and lower third of your oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a 4 inch heart-shaped cookie cutter as your guide, draw 6 hearts (12 total) on each piece of parchment paper.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites on low-medium speed until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat the whites until they hold soft peaks.  Add the sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until the meringue holds stiff peaks.  (The meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty.  If it feels gritty the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between your fingers.)  Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch plain tip.

Place a small spot of meringue at each corner of the pan to attach the parchment paper to the baking sheets.  Pipe the meringue within the perimeters of the 12 heart shapes you have drawn on the parchment paper.  Smooth with an offset spatula.

Bake in preheated oven for about 60 to 70 minutes, alternating the baking sheets, top to bottom and front to back, about halfway through baking. (The time does depend on how humid or dry a day it is.)  The meringues are done when they release easily from the parchment paper. When the meringues are baked, turn off the oven, open the oven door slightly, and leave the meringues in the turned off oven for about another half hour.

For the strawberry whipped cream:  In a large mixing bowl combine the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar.  Cover and chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. When chilled, beat the mixture until soft peaks form. Then add the sweetened strawberry puree, a little at a time, beating just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. Taste and fold in more sugar or puree, if needed.

To assemble dessert:  With a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pipe, or else spoon the whipped cream on top of the meringues and serve with berries and extra strawberry puree, if desired.

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