Let’s not argue!  Whether Pavlovas are an Australian concoction or a New Zealand confection, it’s a delicious dessert, perfect for a light, but special treat.  Named after the famed Russian prima ballerina of the 1920’s, this dessert has turned heads and started debates about the origin for decades.  Who really created it?  Since I have many Australian and New Zealand friends…I’m stepping away from this one!  Let’s just say that whoever invented it, they did a service to us all!  Light, airy, fruity, with just a touch of decadence…sounds like a romantic ending to our dinner.

This Sunday, in honor of Valentine’s Day,  I want to surprise my family and friends by making something I’ve never tried before…yes, another baking adventure!  This time, I feel a bit more comfortable than my attempt at sourdough bread, but I still sought help from some knowledgeable bakers.

I know that I usually don’t show many “how-tos”, but I thought that for this post it was important for you to join me on this journey, so in the future (maybe Tuesday?) you can easily make this treat.

Here’s what the bakers told me.  When making the meringue, always start with a spotless glass or metal bowl and whisk.  Any grease residue will prevent the eggs from attaining their ultimate froth.  You also want to be sure to separate the eggs (be sure that there’s not a speck of  yolk) when they are cold, then leave them on the counter for up to an hour so that they will be at room temperature when you use them.

Use caster sugar.  It dissolves quickly into the egg whites and does not have the grainy texture that granulated sugar does.  You’ll know when the meringue is ready when it forms a stiff, glossy peak.

The tip for making perfect hearts is a making a stencil from a heart cookie cutter and tracing the shape onto parchment paper with a pencil.  Then place another sheet of parchment over the stenciled piece. (I used 2 colors so that you could really see the tracing).

Now you’re ready to pipe your hearts. Use a pastry bag (or even a plastic bag with the tip cut off) so that you can control the flow of the meringue.  Keep the tip on the parchment paper, do the outside line first, then go round and round to fill in to the middle.  Be sure to go around the outside again for a last pass so that you have a well- formed edge and a shallow well in the middle to put your Chantilly Cream.

Gather a cold bowl and whisk, cream, sugar and a bit of vanilla and voila, the perfect filling!  Top with fresh fruit and you’ve got one great dessert!

Since Valentine’s is on a Tuesday this year, you know I’m serving this on Sunday for family and friends.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Make it special, make it Sunday!

Pavlova Hearts with Chantilly Cream

Yield: 4

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

A light, airy, fruity, dessert with just a touch of decadence.

Ingredients:

For Meringue:

3 egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For Chantilly Cream:

1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fresh fruit of your choice

Directions:

For Meringue:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Make a heart stencil on parchment paper and cover with another piece of parchment paper (as shown).

Beat eggs until frothy (either with a whisk or electric mixer) then add the cream of tartar. Keep beating and start adding the caster sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until the mixture forms stiff peaks (as shown).

Place mixture in pastry bag or plastic bag with tip cut off and form into hearts. Remember to go over the outside of the heart again so that you have a well in the center of the heart (as shown).

Bake for 1 hour, turn the oven off and let it cool in the oven for one hour. Then remove from the oven and let totally cool.

For Chantilly Cream:

Hint: Put your bowl and whisk or beaters into the freezer to get them very cold.

Add heavy cream, caster sugar, and vanilla extract to bowl and beat until it forms soft peaks.

Remove the hearts from parchment paper with a spatula and fill center with Chantilly Cream and top with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

Serve.

Enjoy!