Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Raspberry Pavlovas

The Setting: Melting snow, vanishing clouds, messy apartment.

The Soundtrack: Gilmore Girls, Season 4

Steaming up the Oven: Meringue Pavlovas

The Scenario: Working on some Valentine's Day ideas....

If you haven't noticed, I have a bit of a thing for meringues (Peppermint Bark Meringues, Meringue Ghosts).

For Valentine's Day I thought I'd up the romantic ante and turn my classic meringues into Raspberry Pavlovas, or individual meringue wells filled with Chantilly cream and topped with fresh raspberries.

Easy on the eyes and almost as easy to throw together, this impressive looking dessert is perfect for a Valentine's Day dinner party or an intimate dinner for two.

Raspberry Pavlovas
2 egg whites
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
Chantilly cream, recipe follows
2 cups fresh raspberries (Do not rinse the raspberries, as they will become waterlogged. Instead, gently pat them with a damp paper towel.)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you desire, you can use a 3-inch biscuit cutter or coffee cup to trace circles on the back side of the parchment paper to give yourself a guide for piping. I like to wing it.

Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and vanilla with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks start to form. With mixer on, beat in sugar 1 T at a time, allowing each addition to become incorporated.

Gently transfer the mixture to a piping bag and pipe five 3-inch circles of meringue on the parchment. Fill in the circles, and make two more unfilled circles on top of each to create wells.

Bake at 300 degrees F for 25 minutes or until cream-colored, crispy on the edges, and just set in the centers. Since meringues are very delicate and oven temperatures vary, peek at these after 15 minutes. If they appear to be taking on too much color, reduce the oven temp slightly.

Cool to room temperature before very gently removing from the parchment paper. Handle with care.

To serve, fill each well with Chantilly cream and fresh raspberries.

Chantilly Cream
Chantilly cream is a fancy name for sweetened whipped cream flavored with vanilla. This one is sweetened very lightly because the meringues are so sweet already.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in an electric mixer on med-low speed. Beat for 2 minutes. Gradually increase speed to med-high and beat just till the cream holds stiff peaks. Store leftover Chantilly Cream in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.

Extra meringues can be carefully placed in a flat, single layer in a zip-top plastic bag and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days. 

The perfect bite will have a bit of everything: chewy, marshmallowy meringue, light and fluffy Chantilly Cream, and the sweet-tart burst of raspberry, flecked with crunchy bits of meringue crust. In the mood yet? 

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life!

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