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Share the love of 1 billion valentines this year

Do you know anyone who doesn't celebrate Valentine's Day? I don't; Valentine's Day is one holiday we all keep near and dear to our hearts.

Remember Valentine's Day parties in elementary school? They were the best. I can only speak from the girls' point of view, of course, but we used to agonize over the selection of each classmate's valentine card. You didn't want a mushy one to go to the wrong boy - he might get the wrong idea. If his perception from the card was that you really liked him a lot - elevated from just being 'nice' - you might find him chasing you at recess for a few weeks.

Before the party, valentines were discretely delivered to homemade heartshaped mailboxes, to be opened at the party. Imagine holding a pile of love notes! Each envelope could make your heart race. Oh, the giggles that filled the air as we read, and then read into, the messages on the valentines! The color rose on cheeks and smiles spread on faces as cards were quickly jammed back into envelopes, shyly avoiding sharing their contents. The card industry's best attempts at love messages (You are cool! Stay Sweet! Be Mine?) were inflated in our young minds into sweet declarations of everlasting love. Every child walked out of those parties feeling 10 feet tall.

And who wouldn't be more than a little starry eyed after receiving 25 to 30 messages of adoration?

The Greeting Card Association expects 1 billion valentines will be sent this year - that's gonna be a whole lotta love!

It is never 'goofy' to tell people that they matter to you, and for many, Valentine's Day provides a perfect opportunity to express adoration, admiration and love to each other.

Valentines come in all shapes, sizes and forms: Cards handcrafted or purchased, jewelry, flowers, candy, special breakfasts, lunches or dinners.

I'll treat my sweethearts to a nice dinner followed by a fun, festive dessert. I am making Pink Meringue Heart Shaped Boxes filled with Lime Curd, decorated with a drizzle of dark chocolate syrup, fresh raspberries and ribbons of lime zest.

XOXO!

Bon Appetit and Eat Locally!

Pink Meringue Heart Shaped Boxes filled

with Lime Curd

Makes 8 to 10

Meringue:

8 egg whites

Pinch of salt

1 ½ cups superfine sugar

4 or 5 drops pink food coloring

Lime Curd:

¾ cup superfine sugar

3 eggs

3 egg yolks

1 cup fresh lime juice (from about 7 limes)

¼ cup grated lime zest

½ cup unsalted butter

Fresh raspberries, mint leaves or thin ribbons of lime zest for garnish

For the meringue: Preheat the oven to 250° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. On one sheet, trace around a small heart (about 3 inches across) to create eight to ten shapes for meringues.

The egg whites will whip more easily if they are room temperature before you begin. With an electric mixer on high speed, whip the egg whites and salt until they begin to foam. Slowly add in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it's all incorporated. Beat the egg whites until stiff and glossy, about six minutes total.

Transfer the meringue to a pastry bag with a large tip. Following your outlines, fill in the hearts at an even thickness. When you have eight (or 10) hearts, go back and pipe the sides of each to form a heart shaped box. On the second sheet pan, create 8 (or 10) free form lids in heart shapes. Don't worry about the lids fitting the box, free form shapes are fine!

Bake for 1 ½ to 2 hours. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in the warm oven to continue drying for several hours or overnight, until crisp.

Prepare the lime curd: In a bowl, lightly whisk the sugar, eggs and egg yolks. Combine the lime juice, lime zest and butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring the liquid to a rapid simmer over high heat. Remove from the heat. Whisk half of the lime butter into the egg mixture. Then whisk this back into the simmering lime butter in the saucepan.

Cook over medium-high heat, whisking vigorously, until thick and creamy.

Strain the curd into a nonreactive bowl, press plastic wrap onto the top to avoid forming a skin, and let cool. Wrap well and refrigerate for up to three days.

To serve: Place a meringue box on each plate, fill with the cold lime curd, and place a lid at a rakish angle. Garnish with berries, mint leaves or thin ribbons of lime zest and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.