Hearts: Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (130 degrees C) and place racks in
upper and lower third of your oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment
paper. Using a 4 inch (10 cm) heart-shaped cookie cutter as your guide,
draw 6 hearts (12 total) on each piece of parchment paper.
In the bowl
of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on
low-medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat
the whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar, a little at a time,
and continue to beat until the meringue holds stiff peaks. (The
meringue is done when it holds stiff peaks and when you rub a little between
your thumb and index finger it does not feel gritty. If it feels gritty
the sugar has not fully dissolved so keep beating until it feels smooth between
your fingers.) Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2
inch (1.25 cm) plain tip.
small spot of meringue at each corner of the pan to attach the
parchment paper to the baking sheets. Pipe the
meringue within the perimeters of the 12 heart shapes you have drawn on the
parchment paper. Smooth with an offset spatula.
preheated oven for about 60 to 70 minutes, alternating the baking sheets, top to
bottom and front to back, about halfway through baking. (The time does
depend on how humid or dry a day it is.) The meringues are done when they
release easily from the parchment paper. When the meringues are
baked, turn off the oven, open the oven door slightly, and leave the meringues
in the turned off oven for about another half hour.
For the strawberry whipped cream: In a large mixing bowl
combine the whipping cream,
vanilla extract, and sugar. Cover and chill the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator for at
least 30 minutes. When chilled, beat the mixture until soft
peaks form. Then add the sweetened
strawberry puree, a little at a time,
beating just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. Taste and
fold in more
sugar or puree, if needed.
dessert: With a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pipe, or else spoon the
whipped cream on top of the meringues and serve with berries
and extra strawberry puree, if desired.
Note: In the above
picture, I have used two meringues and sandwiched them together with the cream.
leftover meringues in a cool dry airtight container up to one week.
4-inch (10 cm) meringue hearts.