Treat your Valentine to a deliciously lovely dessert

swthompson@herald-leader.comFebruary 11, 2014 

A Valentine gift that tastes delicious might be the perfect way to say "I love you."

Meringue cups are what Elena Maydanovich's customers at European Delights Gourmet Bakery in Brannon Crossing want on Valentine's Day. "It is our seasonal item, and we start making them for Valentine's and until the end of summer," she said. "Also, a lot of people want to know how to make meringue because you can do a lot of stuff with it. And it is very light and delicious and very well-known in Europe. It's a recipe for any special holiday."

Maydanovich, who was born in the Ukraine, moved to America 25 years ago with her family.

"My mom used to make the cake with meringue all the time, and that's how I learn how to make meringue," she said.

With help from Maydanovich, you can make heart-shaped meringue cups for your special valentine. Here's her recipe.

recipe

Heart-shaped meringue cups

Meringue cups:

3 egg whites

6 ounces sugar

Filling:

6 ounces heavy cream, whipped

6 ounces lemon curd

Garnish:

Dark chocolate, melted

Fresh raspberries

Place egg whites in large bowl of a 4-quart KitchenAid mixer. Using whisk attachment, whip them on low speed just until frothy. Increase speed to medium, and add sugar, a little at a time. Mix for about 15 minutes, until egg whites are stiff with glossy peaks.

Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a small round tip, with the whipped egg whites. Pipe out a heart or round shape, building the walls up on the side so you can fill with cream after the cups are dry.

Free-form meringue shells can be created without piping. Trace heart shapes on parchment paper. Use the back of a spoon to carefully spread about 1/2 cup meringue inside each traced heart shape. Still using the spoon, form an indentation in the center and a decorative edge around the side of each shell.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place piped meringue cups in oven for 4 to 5 hours, or until they are completely dry.

The next day, melt 2 pounds of quality dark chocolate. Pour into a dish deep enough for the meringue cup to fit into. Dip the meringue cups completely in the chocolate and place on parchment paper to dry, about 2 hours.

To make filling: In a mixer bowl, whip heavy cream until thickened. Add lemon curd, stirring with a hand whisk. Place in refrigerator to chill. When ready to serve, fill cups with cream and top with fresh raspberries. Coffee and chocolate go together like love notes and kisses; when combined in luscious dessert, romance happens.

For Valentine's Day, the National Coffee Association asked celebrity chef Michael Leviton to create a lavish dessert blending coffee and chocolate. Leviton is the owner of Lumière, one of the top restaurants in the Boston area.

Dark chocolate and coffee cake with coffee mousse and cookie crumble

8 ounces brewed coffee

12 ounces 70 percent chocolate, finely chopped

6 ounces butter

6.5 ounces sugar

5 eggs

Pour 8 ounces of your favorite brewed coffee into a small pan. Over low heat, reduce to 3 ounces.

Place chocolate in a small bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, melt butter and pour over chocolate; stir. If chocolate is not completely melted, place bowl over a hot water bath and stir until smooth.

To the pot of reduced coffee, add half the sugar. Bring to a boil and pour over chocolate mixture.

In a mixer bowl, using the whisk attachment, whip eggs and remaining sugar gently to light peaks. Gently fold chocolate mix into the egg mix until just combined. Pour into a greased 9-inch spring form pan. Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until set in the center. When set, remove from oven and chill.

Coffee mousse

2 cups brewed coffee

3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened

4 ounces heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

3/4 cup powdered sugar

Cookie crumble (see note below)

In a small pan over medium heat, take 2 cups of your favorite coffee and reduce to 4 ounces (½ cup).

In a mixer, whip cream cheese until it is very smooth. Reduce speed to low, then carefully add coffee, heavy cream and vanilla bean, followed by sugar and crumbled cookies.

Note: For cookie crumble, chop some of your favorite cookies into bite-size pieces and dry out in a low oven until crunchy.

Plating suggestion: Using a squeeze bottle, spread chocolate in a circle on each individual dessert plate. Position a slice of cake on each plate. (Alternately, cake may be baked in individual round spring form molds.) Top each portion of cake with a large dollop of coffee mousse and garnish with the cookie crumbs and a drizzle of more chocolate sauce.

Sharon Thompson: (859) 231-3321. Twitter: @FlavorsofKY. Blog: Flavorsofkentucky.bloginky.com.

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