I thought about it ................. I really did. I thought about the fact that I could probably make you think that I was a goody-two-shoes. That I'm so health conscious I wouldn't dream of making anything for Valentine's day that was over-the-top indulgent ......... you know, with tons of calories and loaded with fat.
I even thought about telling you that I made these lovely French Meringues because they were "French" and that's what a blog with the name The Café Sucré Farine should be posting for Valentine's Day ................ that would be the proper thing to do, right?
The truth of the matter was ................
................ I was totally out of butter!
I wanted to make a few Valentine treats to take to my son and daughter-in-law. We were invited for dinner on Sunday evening, so I got up early that morning to get started before church. I wasn't sure what I wanted to make, so I thought I'd check first to see what ingredients I had to work with. I was super shocked to discover that there was NO butter! I usually keep a good supply of basic pantry supplies, but somehow, the butter had dwindled down to nothing unnoticed.
What was I to do? How could I make yummy Valentine's treats with NO butter? Being too lazy to run to the market (only 3 blocks away), I put on my thinking cap and checked out other ingredients that were available; SUGAR, flour, EGGS, CHOCOLATE, citrus fruits, fresh strawberries, WHIPPING CREAM and lots of condiments, like mustards, vinegars and in the freezer, a bunch of jars of STRAWBERRY JAM.
I started getting some ideas ................. meringues would be fun. Yes, and really pretty with a bit of pink food coloring and that 2D decorating cake decorating tip I'm really smitten with right now............... but still a little boring................ it IS Valentine's week, after all. True, ............ so what would give really pretty meringues a bit of delicious, slightly indulgent pizzazz? Hmmmmm................. ah ha! CHOCOLATE ................ but not just any chocolate ................ a creamy, silky chocolate ganache would be the perfect added touch. Oh, and then there was that lovely strawberry jam ............. I decided to add a bit to my ganache for an extra delicious Valentine touch.
I set to work - I whipped up the meringues and while they baked, I made the ganache and got ready for church. I let the meringues sit in the oven to cool till we returned home around lunch time. After that it was simply a matter of throwing the ganache into a zip lock bag, piping a dollop onto half of the meringues and giving each one a pretty top. The result -Oh my! I think you're going to love these melt-in-your-mouth treats. But be sure to make plenty, they'll go like hot cakes!
So, there you have it ................ a goody-two-shoes I'm not, though we do try to eat quite healthy for the most part here at The Café. And I have to tell you, I'm excited about another super delicious Valentine's treat that would be a beautiful way to say, "I love you." or "You're special." Be sure to check back on Wednesday for my Strawberry-Clementine Valentine Soup, a unique, bursting with fabulous flavor, yet light dessert soup. You won't miss the extra calories just like I didn't miss the butter as I prepared these fun sweet treats.
French Meringues w/ Strawberry-Ganache Filling
Ingredients for the meringues:
4 egg whites
2 ¼ cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Ingredients for the ganache:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
3 tablespoons strained strawberry jam
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 150˚F*. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. With a pen, trace around a small round object (I used the top of a spice container, about 2-inches in diameter). Repeat tracing circles, leaving 1-inch in between, till parchment paper is filled. (I put about 18 on each sheet.) Repeat with second sheet pan. Set aside.
2. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until light and foamy.
3. With mixer on low speed, add vanilla then, very slowly, add powdered sugar. Once all sugar has been added, set speed at medium and beat for 20 minutes. Mixture will be very thin at first, but will get quite thick, smooth and satiny.
4. At this point you can either spoon the egg white mixture in mounds onto prepared cookie sheets or spoon mixture into a decorating bag or a gallon size zippered bag fitted with a 2D Wilton tip (also called a drop petal tip) If using a zippered bag simply snip a tiny cut off one corner. Place 2D tip into bag and slip into corner opening then fill bag with egg mixture.
5. To pipe meringues: start in center of one circle and swirl outward in a circular motion till circle is filled with meringue. Repeat till all circles are filled. For a great video tutorial on how to do this type of swirling, check this out.
6. Bake for 2 hours or until meringues are crisp. Turn oven off and leave meringues in oven till completely cool. Remove from oven when cool .
Instructions for the ganache and final step for meringues:
1. While meringues are baking, prepare ganache; place jam and cream in a medium size microwave safe bowl. Cook on high for 1 minute**. Add the chocolate chips and allow to heat for 3 minutes. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour to thicken ganache***.
2. Remove from refrigerator and whip the ganache for 5 minutes or until it's light, fluffy and color lightens slightly. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. (For "multi-colored effect see tip**** below.) Pipe (or spoon) a quarter size (or larger, if you want a thicker filling) onto half of the cookies Top with remaining cookies and compress gently till filling spreads to edges. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set ganache.
* ~ If your oven temperature doesn't run this low, set it for the lowest temperature and prop the door open slightly with a wooden spoon while baking.
** ~ If you don't have a microwave, place jam and cream in a small saucepan. Heat until tiny bubbles are just starting to rise to the surface. Turn off heat, add chocolate chips and allow to sit for 3 minutes, then stir with a whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
*** ~ If ganache becomes too thick in refrigerator (meaning it becomes a solid mass and won't come out of the bowl), microwave it for about 10 seconds to soften slightly before mixing.
**** ~ You can add a few drops of pink food coloring to meringues or, for the swirled or striped effect you see in the photos, paint a few thin strips of gel food coloring on the inside of your decorating bag, starting at the tip end and painting about halfway up the bag.
Adapted from Allrecipes