I love Valentine’s Day.
Absolutely love it.
Why do I love February 14th so much?
Well… I get to wear pink head-to-toe and no one questions me. I get to eat a whole bag of Hershey’s Kisses. I get to tell my family and friends how much I love them! (the most important part!)
My favorite way to celebrate the day of love is with a lot of together time and good food. I love to make big breakfasts before heading off to work/school/errands and a decadent dinner in the evening (steak au poivre, please!). With all the rich food (and generous glass of wine), we are sometimes too stuffed for dessert. And no dessert on Valentine’s Day is a crime!
While planning out this year’s celebration, I wanted to come up with a light dessert that was still elegant and special.
Which is why I’ll be serving up Individual Pavlova Hearts for dessert tomorrow.
Pillowy, marshmallow-y, heart-shaped meringues are filled with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh strawberries. They are unbelievably elegant, super delicious, and come in under 250 calories per serving (!!).
Plus, you can make all the components ahead of time and assemble at the last minute. Which means more time with your loved ones (the whole point of Valentine’s Day, right?).
It starts with making meringue for the hearts. I recommend taking the time to prep all the ingredients before starting so you can move smoothly through the process.
Start by preheating your oven to 250 degrees.
Then draw four hearts (about 4-5-inches in size) in pencil on a piece of parchment paper – I actually free-handed these, but if you have a template, use it! Flip the parchment over (because no one wants to eat pencil!) and place the parchment on a rimmed baking sheet. Set the baking sheet aside.
In a bowl, combine ½ cup of superfine sugar (½ cup + 1 teaspoons granulated sugar processed in a food processor for 30 seconds) and a bit of cornstarch. Whisk well to combine and set aside.
In a small ramekin, combine some white vinegar and some vanilla extract. Set aside.
Now that we have all the “add-in” ingredients assembled, we can start making the meringue.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 2 egg whites and a pinch of salt. Start to beat the egg whites on a low speed, gradually working towards medium speed. When you look into the bowl of the mixer and see small, even bubbles forming (it looks like the egg whites are only foam) start sprinkling in the sugar/cornstarch mixer one tablespoon at a time. When the sugar is all added, turn the mixer up to medium-high and then add the vinegar/vanilla mixture. Continue to beat on medium-high until the meringue is shiny and stiff peaks form.
I piped the meringue because spooning it out and shaping it free-hand would be a bit messy. I snipped a corner of a zip-top baggie and added a star piping tip. If you don’t have piping tips, that’s okay – they are just as beautiful with rounded edges!! I piped concentric hearts to form the bottom of the meringue and then added a second layer on the outer edge only. This creates a cup where the whipped cream and berries will sit!
Bake the meringue hearts at 250 degrees for about 45-50 minutes, then turn off the oven, crack the oven door open, and let the circles cool in the oven for about one hour. You can make the meringue hearts earlier in the day and store them in an air-tight container until dessert time!
Then it’s time to assemble.
Place the meringue heart on a plate.
And add some whipped cream.
Then top with fresh strawberries!
It is a perfect, light dessert that your loved ones will drool over!
So, what are you making for Valentine’s Day?
- 2 egg whites
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup superfine sugar
- ¾ teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon white vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- Preheat your oven to 250 degrees. Outline four hearts (4-5” in diameter) on a piece of parchment paper using a pencil. FLIP the parchment over and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine superfine sugar and cornstarch. Whisk to combine thoroughly. If you don’t have superfine sugar, no worries. Toss ½ cup + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 30 seconds and then you have superfine sugar!
- In a small ramekin, combine vinegar and vanilla. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine 4 egg whites and a pinch of salt. Start to beat the egg whites on a low speed, gradually working towards medium speed. When you look into the bowl of the mixer and see small, even bubbles forming (it looks like the egg whites are only foam), start sprinkling in the sugar/cornstarch mixer one tablespoon at a time. When the sugar is all added, turn the mixer up to medium-high and then add the vinegar/vanilla mixture. Continue to beat on medium-high until the meringue is shiny and stiff peaks form.
- Pipe the meringue evenly into each heart – use concentric hearts to fill in the heart outline and then pipe a second outer layer to create a cup.
- Bake the meringue circles at 250 degrees for 45-50 minutes, then turn off the oven, crack the oven open, and let the circles cool in the oven.
- When the meringues are cool, remove from the oven and set aside. They can be made ahead and stored in an air-tight container until you’re ready to assemble!
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine heavy whipping cream and sugar. Beat cream on medium-high speed until just becoming stiff.
- Place a heart meringue on a pretty plate.
- Dollop 2-3 tablespoons of whipped cream into the middle of the heart and spread it out evenly to fill the entire cup. Layer on sliced strawberries.
- Serve it up to family and friends immediately! Enjoy!