Thursday, January 14, 2016

Strawberry Sweetheart Meringue Dessert Cups

Ready for Valentine’s Day?  Oh, don’t panic, the V-day is exactly a month from now.  But I guess being prepared is always better than rushing at the last minute, right?  That’s especially true if you’re trying something new, such as making this gorgeous and fun dessert to share with your Valentine!  Let me present to you: Strawberry Sweetheart Meringue Dessert Cups!

These gorgeous dessert cups are easier to prepare than they look.  AND, they are gorgeous?   I think strawberries and dark chocolate go hand in hand, when it comes to the ultimate dessert.  Together, I also think they are perfect ingredients for Valentine’s Day!

At the base of this Sweetheart Dessert Cup is a strawberry meringue cup, which is crispy and light.  Yet, it is slightly sweet and tart at the same time.  I covered the inside of the meringue cup with a thin layer of dark chocolate.  The dark chocolate adds a nice bitter sweet flavor while preventing moisture (from the cream) from getting into the meringue.  This way, the meringue cup stays nice and crispy.

I filled the cups with a strawberry cream, which consists of strawberry preserves for the aroma, whipping cream for the light texture, and some mascarpone cheese (Italian sweet cheese, comparable to American cream cheese) for a smooth and silky richness.   Last but not least, I garnish these cups with a strawberry in sweetheart shape and a spring of mint (please see the Youtube video above on how to easily cut the strawberries into heart shapes).  These components are similar to a pavlova, but in a dessert cup form. 

These Strawberry Sweetheart Meringue Dessert Cups will surely win your Valentine’s heart!  In my humble opinion, preparing a treat for someone is a wonderful way to show your love, don’t you agree?  I wish you all a wonderful Valentine’s Day celebration in advance.  If you don’t have a Valentine yet, you can still make this treat for your family, friends or someone you care about.   Wish you all a sweet and warm V-day.

Tools and ingredients used:

Wilton #22 Piping tip (Click here for more information)
Pastry Bag (Click here for more information)
Silpat Baking Mat (Click here for more information)
Stand Mixer (Click here for more information)
Baking Pans (Click here for more information)
Cooling Rack (Click here for more information)
Vanilla Powder (Click here for more information)
Strawberry Preserves (Click here for more information)
Vanilla Extract (Click here for more information)
Mascarpone Cheese (Click here for more information)
Heavy Cream (Click here for more information)
Dark Chocolate (Click here for more information)
Strawberry Jell-O (Click here for more information)
Oxy-Sorb Packages to keep food dry (Click here for more information

Strawberry Sweetheart Meringue Dessert Cups
Makes: 20 3-inch cups

Ingredients for the strawberry meringue cups
3 large egg whites
1 package (3 ounces) Strawberry Jell-O
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
6 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Ingredients for the strawberry cream fillings:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 fresh strawberries, for garnish
10 springs of fresh mint, for garnish (optional)

To Prepare the strawberry meringue cups:

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat on medium until frothy. Pour the Strawberry Jell-O and sugar into the egg whites in a slow steady stream. Then, add the vanilla powder. Turn mixer on high and continue to beat until the egg whites are stiff and shiny, about 5 minutes. 

Scrape the meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip and pipe the meringue cup. When piping, apply gentle pressure on the pastry bag to release the meringue. Starting in the middle and make 3 full circles, about 3-inch in diameter to form the base. Then, continue to pipe on the perimeter of the base for another 2 full circles to form the edges of the cup.

Pipe the cups at least 2-inches apart from each other. You should be able to get about 20 cups in a batch.

Bake the meringues until they are firm, about 2 hours. Rotate the pans in the middle of baking. Then, turn off the oven and leave them there overnight with the oven door closed.  The heat will continue to dry the meringue.

To prepare the strawberry cream fillings:

Place heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, strawberry preserves and vanilla extract in the bowl of the stand mixer filled with whisk attachment. Beat until light and fluffy. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a large wound tip. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble:

In a microwave heat proof bowl, place 3/4 of the chopped chocolate and melt on high heat.  Stirring chocolate in 20 second interval until chocolate is just melted. Then, stir in the remaining 1/4 of the chocolate and stir until completely melted. Slightly cool melted chocolate before use.

Spoon a teaspoon of melted chocolate into the meringue cup. With the back of a small spoon, gently spread the chocolate inside the meringue cup for a thin even coating. Set aside until chocolate is firm.

When ready to serve, pipe a generous amount of strawberry cream into the meringue cup. Split the strawberry in half and garnish on top of the strawberry cream. Add a spring of fresh mint leaves if desire. Enjoy.

Amy’s Note: I usually pipe the strawberry cream right before serving to prevent too much moisture from getting into the meringue cups. You can store the baked and chocolate filled meringue cups in an air tight container for up to a week at room temperature. You can place a few moisture absorbing packages in your container to ensure freshness.