My husband and I have never been out to dinner for Valentine’s Day. On our first Valentine’s Day together, only a couple months after we started dating back in college, my husband took me on a picnic. He had spent the morning tucking homemade sandwiches and cookies into a cute little picnic basket and afterwards we went to Barnes and Noble. Since I don’t love eating in the grass, we don’t picnic as much anymore but we always make something a little messy and labor intensive together for a special dinner at home. We love being in the kitchen together and so we celebrate each other by doing something that we enjoy! In the past we’ve made gnocchi, homemade pasta, beef bourginon…anything that takes a little extra effort. This year we are making chicken bhuna (which is my favorite Indian curry) and homemade naan. Love is in the air!
Also since it’s Valentine’s week, your Instagram feed is probably starting to look a little like fifty shades of chocolate, so I thought I would switch it up and give you these brown sugar pavlovas. Sometimes, meringues and pavlovas can be overly sweet and not my favorite dessert, but the addition of brown sugar gives these a more rounded, caramelized flavor. The mildness of the mascarpone and sharpness of the fruit also helps to off set that sweetness. These are great to help you use up leftover egg whites and fruit that is starting to go bad. I used a little of the leftover beet creme anglaise to give the mascarpone cream that pink tint, but you could definitely leave it out or play with adding another flavor (strawberry or raspberry jam would be great). They are also fun to decorate so I encourage you to play around with them!
Brown Sugar Pavlovas with Mascarpone Cream
Yield: 4- 4” pavlovas
for the pavlovas:
3 egg whites (125 g)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
for the mascarpone cream:
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp beet creme anglaise *optional*
For the pavlovas:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Use a ramekin or round bowl to trace 4 4” circles on a piece of parchment paper. Flip the parchment over so that the lines are on the bottom side and place it on a sheet pan.
Whisk egg whites, sugar, and brown sugar together in a heat proof bowl and place over a medium saucepan with simmering water. Cook, whisking often until warm and frothy and the sugar is dissolved. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer.
Beat with the whisk attachment on medium high speed until stiff peaks form and meringue is cool and glossy (about 5 minutes).
Divide the meringue into 4 and spread inside the drawn circles. Create a small nest by pushing the sides a little higher than the center.
Bake for 40 minutes, until meringues are dry and can be gently lifted off of the pan. Turn oven off and let meringues cool in the oven for at least 1 hour.
For the mascarpone cream:
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer and whip until smooth and soft peaks form. Don’t over mix or the mixture will become gritty.
1. Filled cool meringue nests with mascarpone cream and top with fresh fruit and herbs.