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Valentine Meringues

Servings 84 approx. (1 1/2") hearts

Ingredients

For the meringues:

  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups confectioner's sugar

For the chocolate:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate about 8 ounces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons shortening or coconut oil I only use non-hydrogenated fats

Instructions

  1. Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  3. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt on low speed until foamy. Your bowl and beater/s should be clean, dry and free from any oil, butter or other fat.
  4. Increase the mixer speed to medium speed and continue beating until the mixture is opaque.Do not rush the whipping process by using the top speed on your mixer.
  5. Gradually add the confectioner's sugar. I added about heaping spoonful at a time, sprinkling it over the egg whites and continuing to beat at medium to medium high speed. Save high speed for the very end of your whipping time.
  6. Beat until stiff and shiny peaks form. The mixture will look glossy and marshmallowy. It will take about 5 minutes to reach this stage.
  7. Fit a 1/2" round piping tip into a piping bag or plastic freezer bag with the tip cut off.
  8. Pipe half of the merinque (onto the parchment lined baking sheet) into 1 1/2" teardrops to form the left side of a heart leaving room to pipe the other half of the heart. Create your teardrop by piping the top of the heart with a circular mound, then release the pressure on piping and pull down to a point. (See post for piping visual.) Leave some room between each heart. I could have piped mine closer than what you see in the photos.
  9. Continue piping until all of this first half of the mixture is used up. Wash and dry piping tip and fit into a clean bag.
  10. Add a couple drops of food coloring to the remaining meringue to achieve your desired shade of pink. You may need to re-whip this half of the mixture to achieve the stiff peak stage again.
  11. Use the pink tinted meringue to pipe the other half of the white hearts. If you have any pink left over, simply continue piping all pink hearts. You can use a wet finger to coax stray meringue tails or points into place.
  12. Bake for about 3 hours or until meringues are crisp and dry. Let cool completely on the baking sheets.
  13. Melt 3/4 of the chocolate and all of shortening in the microwave stirring every 30 seconds until warm enough to finish melting by stirring. Do not over cook or your chocolate will seize. Add the remaining 1/4 of chopped chocolate to the warm melted chocolate mixture and continue stirring until completely melted. (This is a shortcut method for tempering chocolate.) You can heat for an additional few seconds if your chocolate isn't fully melted.
  14. Dip the bottoms of cooled meringues in the melted chocolate and place on a wax paper lined tray to set up in a cool area. (Do not put them in the refrigerator to set up.)
  15. Once the meringues are dipped and the chocolate is set, peel them off the wax paper and store in an air tight container at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

*These directions are for crisp meringues without a chewy center. They are light and airy.

*To insure your bowl is free from any oils, swish around some vinegar and water on all sides and wipe clean. Fats will inhibit your whites from reaching their proper consistency.

*I only use fresh egg whites that I've separated myself. I don't use them from a carton.

*You may get some cracking. Most of my hearts were fine. Cracking can happen due to using older egg whites, being cooled too quickly, or beaten too quickly. I did not use the method where you leave the meringues in a turned off oven to cool. If you want to try that, turn off the oven when they are done, then use a wooden spoon to prop the oven door open a bit to release the heat. Leave in oven until cool. Otherwise, be careful to follow the directions for gradually whipping the egg whites.

*You may need more or less chocolate depending upon how heavily you dip each meringue.

*Meringues can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container, possibly longer. If you are planning to make them well in advance, I would wait to dip them until closer to serving as the chocolate does add some moisture and will reduce the time they can be stored and still stay crisp, although I have some that have been dipped and stored for a week that are still crispy.

The base meringue recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine, December 2015

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