Raspberry Cream Dessert

I wanted to make a fun dessert for a Valentine's Date that was different than my usual molten chocolate cake.  I was inspired by the fabulous Barefoot Contessa and her famous Eton Mess dessert so I put together what I like to call Raspberry Cream and I think you'll like it.  It's easy to make and looks really pretty in glasses, especially with the red and white theme.  Usually the recipe says to refrigerate the raspberry mixture until it's cold, but I actually liked serving it warm because it kind of melted everything together and the meringue cookies were so good kind of melted in it.  Hope this gives you a fun treat idea to try for this Valentine's weekend!

| INGREDIENTS |

4 [6 oz] packages fresh raspberries

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 3-inch bakery meringue shells, broken into pieces

| DIRECTIONS |

Pour 2 packages of the raspberries, 1 cup of the sugar and the lemon juice into a 10-inch sauté pan.  Crush the berries lightly with a fork and bring the mixture to a full boil over medium-high heat.  Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy.  Fold the remaining 2 packages of raspberries into the hot mixture and refrigerate until very cold.

In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream, the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and the vanilla together on medium-high speed until it forms firm peaks.

In decorative glasses, layer a spoonful of the whipped cream, a spoonful of the raspberry mixture and then a few meringue pieces.  Repeat once or twice, depending on the size of the glasses, until the glasses are full, ending with berries and a dollop of cream.   Serve immediately or chill for an hour, until ready to serve.