Chocolate Heart Meringue Cups with Whipped Cream and Berries
Yield: 6- 7 Servings
Additional Time: 10minutes
Though the meringue cups bake light in color on the outside, they still have a distinctive, yet delicate chocolate flavor, which balances perfectly with the delicate whipped cream and berries. I used a combination of raspberries, blackberries, and tart, plump red currants (when available), but feel free to use any mixture of fresh berries.
roughly 1 pint (12 oz)mixed berrieseg. raspberries, blackberries, and fresh red currants
semisweet chocolate shavingsoptional
Preheat the oven to 225°F (107°C). Trace six large hearts (roughly 3 inches tall x 2½ inches wide) on a large sheet of parchment paper. Place parchment paper on a large baking sheet - pencil side facing down.
Place the egg whites in the bowl, clean and free of any grease, of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk over low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until egg whites are foamy. Increase speed to medium and continue to whisk for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly start sprinkling in the granulated sugar, while continuing to whisk at medium speed. Increase speed to high and whisk until meringue reaches a stiff peak, roughly 10 to 12 additional minutes.
Gently fold in the cocoa powder with a spatula. Place the meringue in a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pipe a thin layer (roughly ½-inch thick) of meringue - filling the entire heart - to form the base of the cup. Carefully trace the edges of the heart four times with piped meringue to form the sides of the heart meringue cups. It should be relatively tall, about 1½ inches tall at least. Repeat until all of the meringue cups are formed.
Immediately (and carefully) place the meringue in the oven and bake for 1 hour and 45 minutes, or until the meringue is dry. Once baked, turn off the oven and allow meringues to dry in the warm oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Meringue should be crispy, hard, and not sticky. If the meringue is wet or sticky (which can depend on humidity levels), allow them to bake for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove the meringue cups from the parchment paper and set aside. Allow the meringue to cool completely.
Assembly: Place the cold cream, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or medium sized bowl). Using the whisk attachment, or a hand-held mixer, whip the cream until it reaches soft peaks. Do not overbeat.
Fill the meringue cups with dollops of whipped cream, top with mixed berries, and garnish with shaved semisweet chocolate (optional). Serve immediately.
Meringue shells can be prepared up to a day or two in advance and kept in an airtight container at room temperature (preferably with a silica gel pack to keep moisture out).