Cinnamon meringue is piped into a tart-shaped pavlova shell, baked and filled with a dark chocolate mousse and then topped with cinnamon whipped cream. An elegant Valentine’s Day dessert or special treat.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I’m not planning anything.
My husband and I have been together for nine years. We’ve laughed, cried, yelled, and made up more times than I care to remember. We have held hands, worried and stood silently in hospitals together. Dreams have been shattered and rebuilt, piece by piece, but always together, holding hands in the midst of it. Life is funny the way it pushes and pulls you, changes you into something different than you may have once been, covering up old scars and ripping scabs off new ones.
And some things will forever stay the same. Tomorrow there will be no physical gift exchange. Cut flowers will remain on the shelves and aisle end caps for someone else. Candlelit dinners in overcrowded restaurants will be crowded by bodies other than ours. Diamonds will not be given, for I wear only a single band to symbolize who I’m connected to, one that matches his.
Rather than flowers that wilt, crowded restaurants, or diamonds on credit cards, I’ll be grateful for the things I have: A husband who scrubs the floor more often than I, who tirelessly washes laundry so I may work, and who loves unconditionally.
Tomorrow, I’ll hold that man’s hand, and all will be well.
The next morning, though, I may just see if I can find some clearance Scharffen Berger chocolate to make these again, and I may even share with the neighbors as I did yesterday. I don’t think they mind.
These tarts are adapted from a dessert my aunt shared for Christmas a few years ago. I instantly imagined them as a Valentine’s Day dessert, and then it took me a while to share. I apologize, but cinnamon meringue just doesn’t last long around here. It’s gone in a flash, with kids and adults licking their fingers to pick up the tiny broken bits on the counter.
May every day be Valentine’s Day with the ones you love.
1 cup superfine (caster) sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
14 ounces high quality dark chocolate
1/2 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon extract (can substitute ground cinnamon)
Make the meringue shells: Preheat oven to 275º F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment. (You can trace two 8″ circles or six 4″ hearts on the opposite side of the parchment as a guide, if desired.)
In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment or using hand a hand mixer, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Start adding the superfine sugar one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated and the egg whites form stiff, shiny peaks and the sugar is completely dissolved. Fold in the apple cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Using a spatula or a pastry bag spread the meringue into a 1/2″ thick layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet to form two 8″ circles or six 4″ hearts with just the edges mounded to 1″ thick.
Bake the meringue for one hour. Meringue should be crisp and dry on the edges. Turn off the oven allow the meringue to cool completely in the closed oven for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Once the meringue shells have cooled and are ready to fill, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Remove from heat. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the chocolate over the bottoms of the meringue shells. Set the remaining melted chocolate aside to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, lightly beat together the four remaining egg yolks with the water. When the chocolate has cooled to body temperature, Slowly pour in the egg yolks and water while whisking. Continue to whisk until smooth.
In a medium bowl, whip the cream, confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon extract until stiff peaks form. Fill a pastry bag with half of the cinnamon whipped cream. Add the other half to the chocolate mixture and fold to incorporate. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the meringue shells, filling just to the top. Refrigerate until chocolate mousse is set, approximately 1 hour. Top with remaining cinnamon whipped cream and serve.
Makes two 8″ meringue tarts.