Lightened-Up Valentine’s Dessert: Cacao & Berry Meringue Nests

IMG_0258.JPG

Holidays are so special for the food traditions that surround each one. Everyone has their favorites that they look to each year; Apple Pie, Stuffing, Roast Beef...the food itself is delicious but the memories and traditions that the foods carry are one of a kind.

Dessert is always a high-note, especially for Valentine’s Day, but it can be challenging to have room for a heavy pie or sugary cake after a huge feast. These Cacao & Berry Meringue nests are still delicious and special, but are much lighter than most traditional holiday desserts.

Meringue is a light and airy batter made from sugar, egg whites, and cream of tartar.  Cacao powder give these nests a delicious chocolatey flavor, as well as an extra dose of antioxidants, iron, magnesium, and calcium.

Unsweetened whipped cream is rich and creamy, and the lack of sugar balances out the sweet meringue. Combining a serving of healthy fat alongside sugar in the meringue also helps to avoid a sugar crash or “hangover”!

Finally, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are high in fiber, full of antioxidants, low in sugar, and are beautiful on this special dessert.

Not only will you and your family enjoy eating this special dish, but it will be sure to impress! Maybe it will even make it onto the dessert table next year and become a new tradition.  

Ingredients:

  • 8 egg whites

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp cream of tartar

  • 1.5 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 

  • 2/3 cup organic unsweetened cacao powder

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or coconut cream

  • 1/4 cup organic unsweetened cacao nibs

  • Mixed fresh raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries

Instructions:

  1. In a large, very clean glass bowl, combine egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar. With a hand or stand mixer, beat until foamy. 

  2. Begin adding sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating for at least 30 seconds. Continue the process until all of the sugar has been added.

  3. Once all of the sugar has been added, beat the meringue on high for an additional 5 minutes. The finished meringue will be stiff, shiny, and smooth.

  4. Sift cacao into the egg white mixture, and gently fold in until combined.

  5. Fill a large piping bag with the meringue, and pipe onto a wax-papered baking sheet.  Pipe a circle approximately 3 inches in diameter, and then pipe two rows around the outside to form your “nest”.

  6. Place the meringues into a 225-degree oven for approximately 2 hours.  When finished, the meringues should be hard and crunchy on the outsides, but not have any browning.

  7. Turn the oven off, and let the meringues dry out in the oven overnight.

  8. When ready to serve, combine heavy whipping cream and vanilla extract in a bowl, and whip until stiff peaks have formed. 

  9. Fill each shell with 1-2 T of whipped cream, and top with berries and cacao nibs.