Floating Hearts with Raspberry Sauce
1 1/2 pounds fresh raspberries, or two 12-ounce bags frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup plus 11/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups Raspberry Sauce (see above)
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Fresh mint leaves for garnish
1. Prepare raspberry sauce: Combine the raspberries and sugar in a blender and blend until smooth. Push the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Use immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container for two days, or freeze up to three weeks.
2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip on high speed until white, fluffy, and just about to hold soft peaks. With mixer still on high, pour in the sugar in a slow, steady stream. Whip until the meringue holds stiff peaks.
3. Cut out a round piece of parchment just a little bit smaller in diameter than the large, wide sauté pan that you will use to cook the meringues. Grease the parchment with vegetable shortening. Pour 3" to 4" of water into the pan and bring it to a bare simmer.
4. Fit a pastry bag with a #8 or #9 plain tip, and fill the bag about halfway with the meringue. Form hearts by piping two teardrops, each about 3" long, side by side on greased parchment.
5. Carefully slide the parchment onto the surface of the simmering water, and pull it out from under the hearts. The hearts should just slide off as soon as the paper comes in contact with the hot water. Simmer, covered for 45 seconds. Lift the hearts from the water with a slotted spoon, and drain them on paper towels. Repeat until you have 16 to 20 hearts. (Meringue hearts can be refrigerated uncovered for up to one day.)
6. To assemble the dessert: Pour the raspberry sauce onto a shallow platter that is large enough to hold all of the meringue hearts. Using a slotted spatula, carefully float the meringues on top of the sauce. Arrange strawberry slices around the rim of the platter and decorate with the mint leaves. Serve immediately.